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Syrian rebels said to seek Islamic democracy

Syrian Rebels Said To Seek Islamic Democracy by Oren Dorell, USA TODAY

Syrian opposition members generally want a democratic government that protects the rights of minorities, though many also want a constitution based on Islam, according to a recent survey.

Their aspirations are important because the Obama administration has said it is refraining from arming the opposition, which has been pummeled by Syrian security forces for 18 months, in part out of fear of igniting sectarian violence and that weapons would reach Islamist radicals who would threaten allies in the region.

The survey by the International Republican Institute, which trains democracy activists around the world, found high support for a government that “respectfully acknowledges religion” and treats all religions equally. The second-most popular model of choice was for a constitution …

Among Assad’s opponents, moderation reigns

David Pollock is the Kaufman Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and an adviser to Pechter Polls.

Reporting about violence in the Middle East often focuses on Islamic extremists, and this is increasingly true for much of the coverage of Syria’s uprising. But in the Syrian political opposition, Islamic extremism is truly the exception that proves the rule. The vast majority of Syrian opposition activists, according to a new, systematic survey of more than 1,000 of them, express relatively moderate views about Islamic issues. They also voice support for many key democratic values — and most look to the West and other democracies for inspiration and protection. These findings offer support for the view that mainstream Syrian opposition fighters merit the increased aid that would enable …

Groundbreaking research with Syrian opposition undertaken by Pechter Polls picked up by CNN

The following article was written by Jill Dougherty, foreign correspondent for CNN and based on ground breaking research we undertook at the request of IRI with members of the Syrian opposition.  We thank all those involved in helping us get these insights from Syria (your wouldn’t believe how tough it was to get and how many people helped…), particularly IRI for their commitment to advancing democracy even in the most challenging of places. 

Survey: Syrian Opposition Want ‘no-fly’ Zone

By Jill Dougherty (Link to CNN article)

Members of the Syrian opposition support international armed intervention in their country, including establishing a “no-fly” zone, humanitarian corridors and training Free Syrian Army fighters, but they do not support an international presence on the ground, a survey showed.

The survey of the …


Survey Of Syrian Opposition

Washington, DC – IRI today released a survey of Syrian opposition  (PDF) (Right click and save as to download) and its analysis (PDF) (Right click and save as to download), the second Syria-related survey the Institute has released in the past month  

Fieldwork was conducted from June 1 – July 2, 2012, and was undertaken in cooperation with international survey research firm Pechter Polls of Princeton, NJ. 

Given security considerations, the survey was conducted electronically using a referral, or “snowball” method, rather than through strictly random selection of respondents, as would be done in a public opinion poll.  To achieve broader representation, key individuals (or channels) were used to initiate the referral chain, ultimately reaching a sample of 1,168 opposition members, approximately 315 of whom were …

Survey: Syrian opposition want ‘no-fly’ zone

From’s Security Clearance blog by Jill Dougherty

Members of the Syrian opposition support international armed intervention in their country, including establishing a “no-fly” zone, humanitarian corridors and training Free Syrian Army fighters, but they do not support an international presence on the ground, a survey showed. 

The survey of the Syrian opposition was conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports democracy around the world.

It is funded by the U.S. Congress, the State Department and private donations. A quarter of the respondents gave the umbrella opposition organization, the Syrian National Council (SNC), high ratings for legitimacy. But the survey also showed that the council is struggling to consolidate its appeal to a broad section of Syrians who support the opposition movement.

Asked which country …

The Case for Ramping Up EU Intervention in Syria

EU Intervention In Syri

If Europe wishes to effect true democracy in the wake of the Assad regime, it must stop playing into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood and start aiding the rebels on the ground militarily.

Magnus Norell and David Pollock

It has been conventional wisdom that the Syrian opposition is deeply divided, making aid and support from the international community very difficult to send. The lack of “one address” with which to coordinate also makes any thoughts of a more robust military intervention even more unlikely. Add to that the continued refusal of Russia and China to support stronger UNSC resolutions and there is no wonder that the carnage in Syria has gone on for nearly 18 months with the world looking on and wringing its hands.

It may …

Syrian Opposition from inside Syria: First-Ever Credible, Scientific Survey

Syrian Opposition

Today the Wall Street Journal published results from the first-ever credible, scientific survey of the Syrian opposition from within Syria undertaken by Pechter Polls.

The survey was conducted by Pechter Polls in November – December 2011 and the results were publically embargoed until today.

The confidential survey of opposition activists living in Syria reveals that Islamists are only a minority among them. Domestic opponents of Assad, the survey indicates, look to Turkey as a model for Syrian governance—and even widely admire the United States.

Pechter Polls, which conducts opinion surveys in tough spots in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, completed the Syria opposition poll in December 2011. Respondents were contacted over a secure Skype connection by someone they could trust—all native Syrians—who asked them to fill out …

Pollster gauges Arab opinion

By Madeline McMahon Staff Reporter

Adam Pechter ’93, who owns a political polling company, told students Sunday afternoon about the importance of garnering honest responses in measuring shifting public opinion in the Middle East.

Pechter spoke to about 15 students at a Master’s Tea in Silliman College Sunday afternoon about his company, Pechter Polls, which conducts polls in Middle Eastern countries by training local employees to collect data from their own communities. Pechter said he thinks this method avoids what he called the biases of Western pollsters and can help pinpoint the source of conflicts in the Middle East, such as those during the recent “Arab Spring.”

“It’s necessary to have the [most honest] response possible, where the responders feel the most comfortable,” he said. “We need valid …

September 2011 Poll Shows 40 Percent of Jerusalem Arabs Prefer Israel to a Palestinian State

PolicyWatch #1867

Poll Shows 40 Percent of Jerusalem Arabs Prefer Israel to a Palestinian State

By David Pollock November 2, 2011

The nearly 300,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, regardless of diplomatic rhetoric, are almost evenly divided in choosing between Israeli and Palestinian citizenship.

In the wake of Washington’s decision to cut funding to UNESCO, a new phase of diplomatic debate approaches regarding the application for recognition of a Palestinian state “with East Jerusalem as its capital.” Yet new research reveals that a surprisingly large number of the Palestinians who actually reside in the city reject that prospect. Forty-two percent say they would even try to move to Israel if their neighborhood became part of a new Palestinian state. And a statistically equivalent 39 percent say they would prefer …

East Jerusalem Palestinians Say UN Move Would Hurt Them; Many Prefer Israeli Citizenship

By David Pollock Policy Alert, September 22, 2011

The PA’s demand for a UN declaration that names east Jerusalem as the capital of a new Palestinian state actually goes against the wishes of much of the city’s Palestinian population. A new and credible poll of east Jerusalem Palestinians shows that nearly half would prefer to become citizens of Israel rather than of a new Palestinian state — casting fresh doubts on the official Palestinian claim to the city. Only one-quarter (23 percent) of the city’s nearly 300,000 Palestinian residents said they would “definitely” prefer Palestinian citizenship, despite the recent surge in nationalist activity leading up to this week’s UN debate. Even more remarkably, 42 percent said they would actually move to a different neighborhood if necessary in order to remain …