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Groundbreaking Poll on the Syrian Opposition – Final Stake in the Heart of the Leftist Conspiracy Theories

September 23, 2012

A recent survey by the International Republican Institute which polled over 1000 Syrian opposition members seems to decisively put to rest the myth promoted by the Assad regime’s supporters, that opponents of the regime are motivated by narrow sectarian and hardline Islamist considerations. The ground breaking poll, which was discussed at length in the Washington Post, provides an invaluable insight into the views of those working to overthrow the four decade rule of the Assad family, and serves as a decisive and final nail in the coffin of all the “anti-imperial” Leftist conspiracy theories, which for months were claiming that the Syrian opposition were Saudi-CIA-Wahabi funded fanatics hell bent on imposing Zionist-CIA-Wahabi hegemony on Syria.

What immediately stands out from the results of the survey is the huge variety and breadth of opinions and positions that exist within the opposition. Were this a survey of pro-regime supporters, doubtless the magical number “99.9999%” would have come up on every single position and question.

It is hard to imagine a more useful article that opposition activists could Tweet or publicize than this survey. It provides the clearest idea yet of who the Syrian opposition is, and what they believe in.

Lets take a look at the number. 1,168 opposition members, both inside and outside of Syria were polled.

Demographic breakdown;

  • Arab 80%
  • Kurds 14%
  • Other 5%


  • Sunni 80%
  • Not religious 11%
  • Christian 3%
  • Other 6%

According to the Washington Post;

“Fifty-nine percent, inside and outside the country, said they would vote for a qualified Alawite candidate — one from the Assad regime’s most favored and most loyal sect — in a free election”

This is a remarkable result, considering the horrendous atrocities the country has seen in the past 18 months, and even more so when one recalls the strictly sectarian, tribal and religious lines Iraqi and Lebanese voters usually cast their votes along. Despite the best efforts of the regime, the country has not become polarized along strictly sectarian lines. It is in sharp contrast to the regime’s supporters, and their favorite slogan of “Assad or we burn the country”.

The Washington Post goes on to mention the following;

Similarly, 80 percent gave at least mild support, with an average score of 5.2 out of 7, to this proposition: “Government processes, school curricula, and the constitution should mention religion respectfully, but otherwise be secular and not give priority to any specific religious viewpoint over another.” “

Again, remarkable, and totally inconsistent with the idea of an opposition funded by fanatical Saudi Wahabis hell bent on imposing their brand of Islam on Syria. In today’s Syrian schools, the Baath Party’s ideology is drilled into school children with an uncompromising rigidness that is unmatched by any “Madrasa” in the Pakistani tribal areas.

And 84 percent, both inside and outside Syria, gave a score of 7 to this resounding democratic declaration: “The government majority in parliament needs to respect the right of the opposition minority to criticize vigorously and without fear whatever the government does.”

In other words, the Syrian opposition are well aware of the need for a democracy to respect the will of the majority, without violating the rights of the minority, unlike present day Syria, where a tiny minority consisting of one family exploits another minority as cannon fodder to oppress the vast majority of the country.

As in any healthy democracy, there was also a difference of opinions on key subjects. A mere third of those surveyed said they supported the idea of a federal model for a post-Assad Syria, a third said they opposed and a third didn’t have an opinion on the issue.

One of the most surprising results from the survey is the opposition institutions the participants choose to identify with. While the Free Syrian Army came in first with 17%, the Syrian National Council and the Local Coordination Committee both tied with 11%. Which left the other 61% fragmented among other organizations or choosing not to affiliate with any group. Evidently, the opposition has yet to produce a single institution that can speak for the majority of the opposition, much less the entire country.

When asked what political model they would like Syria to emulate, three quarter of the participants gave Western democracies like the USA and France highly favorable scores. Just a quarter voiced any preference for a Saudi model. So much for the “Salafi Wahabi Plot to Impose Salafi-Whabism on Syria” myth.

And finally, when asked what degree of foreign intervention the opposition favored, less than half said that they wanted foreign boots on the ground. The vast majority preferred aid to be limited to arming the Free Syrian Army, a reasonable, pragmatic and and realistic request to make of anyone claiming to be a “Friend of Syria”.

Categories: Syria
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