Syria through the eyes of Syrians

Syria through the eyes of Syrians

Over the past two years, the situation in Syria has seriously changed. Since the Russian Airspace Forces started to operate in the region, the “Islamic state” has lost almost all its territories and currently retains its presence only in the south of the Deir ez-Zor province. Thus, the situation is in the phase of a gradual transition from armed confrontation to a political settlement of the crisis.

In many areas of the SAR, where previously daily fighting has raged, now operate de-escalation zones, and the parties maintain a silence regime, resolving differences within the framework of the peace negotiation process. Thanks to this, political scientists and sociologists were able to begin work on the study of public opinion in Syria. At the moment the survey is already completed, and the results were summed up.

The political scientist and the head of the expert group, senior researcher at the Faculty of Political Science of St. Petersburg State University Maria Pushkina stresses that the main purpose of the survey was to understand what the real state of affairs in the country is, what the Syrians themselves think about the situation in the Arab republic.

“It was not easy to carry out research and create a large body of data, but we still managed to gather information in all the 14 provinces of the republic, even in those areas where intensive military operations are being conducted. In general, a more extensive study confirmed the results of the preliminary survey. The overwhelming majority of respondents – over 92% – assess the situation as a crisis. Its reason lies in the conspiracy of a number of countries that are external parties to the conflict, as well as in some internal problems of Syria, due to which the state has noticeably weakened, in particular, for example, in a high level of corruption. Often people were afraid to answer questions honestly, fearing that their sincere answers could harm them and their families, but when the Syrians understood what the purpose of our work is, they often thanked that at least someone is interested in the real opinion of the Syrian people, and does not play with their country, as if with a puppet.”

The study showed that the Syrians ambiguously evaluate the work of the authorities: 34% – negative, and slightly less, namely 26.5%, on the contrary, is positive. The infrastructure of many areas of the country is destroyed, in addition – unemployment, constant interruptions in the supplies of water, gas and electricity. Undoubtedly, people would like to live in a strong country where state institutions would function successfully.

But at the same time, which is typical, notes Maria Pushkina, despite the war and a difficult humanitarian situation, the majority of the population negatively answered the question: “Would you leave Syria if possible?”. At the same time, people want to flee the war, and the migration potential of Syria as a whole is very high.

“The willingness to leave was spoken mainly by the residents of the outlying areas of the country, as well as those regions that are now more engulfed in combat operations. It can also be noted that the more radical the respondent is, the more religious he is, the more often it was about moving to Europe, to Canada – to those countries in which, according to them, their personality would be respected. In general, the migration potential turned out to be lower than originally expected: the majority of respondents said that they would not leave Syria even if possible, and 14% had even the opportunity, but they deliberately did not use it.”

If people assess the work of local and regional authorities ambiguously, then more than 60% of the respondents spoke positively about the president Bashar al-Assad. The study revealed that many Syrians respect their leader, above all “for the courage that he showed, remaining in difficult times with his people” (a typical statement of the respondent). In addition, most praised the work of the ruling Baath Party, while not forgetting other parliamentary parties in Syria.

Regarding the external situation, among all the states participating in the armed conflict in Syria, Russia was more often called a friendly country by the respondents, since this is the country that made the greatest contribution to the struggle against the general enemy – the “Islamic state”. Positive attitude towards the Russian Federation was expressed by the overwhelming majority of respondents – 74%. On the contrary, the main enemies of the republic are the Israelis and the United States, who scored 96% and 88% of negative assessments, respectively. These external players, on the contrary, are perceived as accomplices of terrorists.

According to the poll, almost all who spoke in favor of Bashar Assad and Russia as a friendly country also said that they do not allow the dismemberment of the country into parts and separation of Kurdistan from Syria. And the percentage of dissenters with this exceeded 80, which means that many respondents who do not support the current president, nevertheless, insist on maintaining the integrity and unity of the country. At the same time, the majority of the Syrians surveyed believe that the life of their country should be formed on the principles of a secular state, some of them, in addition, note the need to take into account also the religious component.

Thus, this study reflects the fatigue of the Syrians from the war and their desire to live in a strong country with well-functioning mechanisms of the functioning of state institutions. Moreover, despite the statements of many Western politicians about the “inhumanity” of Bashar Assad, the majority of Syrians, realizing the nature of the internal problems of the Republic, nevertheless evaluate its work positively and give preference to the ruling Baath party. As for the assessment of the main external forces operating in Syria, Russia is perceived by the people of the republic as an unconditional friend, and the United States, on the contrary, as one of the worst enemies.

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