Polls Show Syrians Overwhelmingly Blame U.S. for ISIS

Eric Zuesse

The British polling organization ORB International, an affiliate of WIN/Gallup International, repeatedly finds in Syria that, throughout the country, Syrians oppose ISIS by about 80%, and (in the latest such poll) also finds that 82% of Syrians blame the U.S. for ISIS.

The Washington Post  summarized on September 15th the latest poll. They did not headline it with the poll’s anti-U.S. finding, such as “82% of Syrians Blame U.S. for ISIS.” That would have been newsworthy. Instead, their report’s headline was “One in five Syrians say Islamic State is a good thing, poll says.” However, the accompanying graphic wasn’t focused on the few Syrians who support ISIS (and, at only one in five, that’s obviously not much — it’s hardly even news). It instead (for anyone who would read beyond that so-what headline) provided a summary of what Syrians actually do support. This is is what their graphic highlighted from the poll’s findings:

82% agree “IS [Islamic State] is US and foreign made group.”

79% agree “Foreign fighters made war worse.”

70% agree “Oppose division of country.”

65% agree “Syrians can live together again.”

64% agree “Diplomatic solution possible.”

57% agree “Situation is worsening.”

51% agree “Political solution best answer.”

49% agree “Oppose US coalition air strikes.”

22% agree “IS is a positive influence.”

21% agree “Prefer life now than under Assad.”

Here are the more detailed findings in this poll, a poll that was taken of 1,365 Syrians from all 14 governates within Syria.

The finding that 22% agree that “IS is a positive influence” means that 78% do not  agree with that statement. Since 82% do agree that “IS is US and foreign made group,” Syrians are clearly anti-American, by overwhelming majorities: they blame the U.S. for something that they clearly (by 78%) consider to be not  “a positive influence.”

Here is the unfortunately amateurish (even undated) press release from ORB International, reporting their findings, and it links directly to the full pdf of their poll-results, “Syria Public Opinion – July 2015”. Though their press-operation is amateurish, their polling itself definitely is not. WIN/Gallup is, instead, the best polling-operation that functions in Syria, which is obviously an extremely difficult environment.

WIN/Gallup and ORB International had previously released a poll of Syria, on 8 July 2014, which reported that, at that time, “three in five (60%) of the population would support ‘international military involvement in Syria’. In government controlled regions this drops to 11% (Tartus), 36% (Damascus) and rises in those areas currently largely controlled by the opposition – Al Raqqah (82%), Aleppo (61%), Idlib (88%).” In other words: The regions that were controlled by Islamic jihadists (Sunnis who are backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United States) were, a year ago, overwhelmingly wanting “international military involvement in Syria.” They wanted to be saved from ISIS. Government-controlled regions didn’t feel the need for international involvement. Syrians were, apparently, at that time expecting “international military involvement” to be anti-jihadist, not pro-jihadist, as it turned out to be (which is the reason why the current poll is finding rampant anti-Americanism there).

This earlier poll further found that, “There is also evidence to suggest that Bashar al-Assad’s position is strengthened from a year ago.”

So, apparently, the more that the war has continued, the more opposed to the U.S. the Syrian people have become, and the more that they are supporting Bashar al-Assad, whom the Syrian people know that the U.S. is trying to bring down.

Also on September 15th, Russian Television issued a video of their interview in Damascus of President Assad. Unfortunately, most of it is in Russian, and without subscripts. However, parts of it are in English, and this interview does provide English-speakers an opportunity to hear him speak, unmoderated by Western media.

UPDATE: To see how the U.S. major media have been covering this issue, a good example of that is here.

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