ORB poll reveals Syrian support for a diplomatic solution to the crisis

Despite more than five years of conflict, three in four Syrians believe a political, rather than military solution stands the best chance of bringing an end to the ongoing crisis.

These are the findings from a rare poll conducted by ORB International across Syria.  The poll was asked to a sample of n=1,981 Syrians who were interviewed face-to-face across all 14 governorates (including interviews in ISIS controlled Raqqa and Der-ez-Zor) between January 1st and February 15th 2016

Despite a violent civil war, it is encouraging to see that hope for a peaceful solution remains.  When asked how likely it is that Syrians can “put their differences aside and live side by side” three in five (61%) say it is likely, a slight drop from 69% in ORB’s July 2015 poll. Opinion among Sunni Muslims (59%) and Alawi/Shia Muslims (68%) was, perhaps surprisingly, similar. Even in Daraa, the so called ‘cradle of the revolution’ a majority (55%) still feel they can put their differences aside.

This desire to see a diplomatic end to the conflict has also been reflected in recent focus groups ORB has conducted both in Syria itself in Aleppo, Idlib and Hassakeh and with recent refugees from ISIL held areas Raqqa and Der ez Zour (conducted in Gaziantep, Southern Turkey). While focus group participants believe a political solution is possible, they also acknowledge the need for international actors to find common ground. One participant in a March 2016 focus group said:

“There must be US and Russian pressure on Bashar al-Assad to compromise, to step down, then it would be possible to reach a solution.” – Male 18-35 from Der ez Zor, Syria

Similar numbers of Syrians are also optimistic about the future security of the country.  Just over three fifths (61%) are optimistic about the security situation in the next six months.  While the conflict continues unabated in some areas of the country, it is clear that the current ceasefire in some areas has breathed a new lease of life into the population and given them hope that the conflict could be resolved. Focus group participants in Heritan, Aleppo spoke of their belief that Syria can be rebuilt after the conflict.

“The ceasefire has given people the chance to come out in the streets again. It makes us think of the beginning of the revolution. Syrians are active people and we will be able to rebuild the country” – Male 18-35, Heritan, Aleppo governorate, Syria

Western media and governments are often fixated with ISIS.  Our strategy is to ‘degrade’ them.  With the exception of those areas they control or have attacked recently, (where people think that their influence has increased: Raqqa 74% increase, Der ez Zor 97% increase, Hama 55% increase), the general perception across Syria is that their influence has decreased (60%) over the past six months.  Though the narrative in the west is that they have been hit hard by falling oil prices and continued airstrikes, when individuals from ISIS-held areas are asked, opinion is more divided over whether their reported economic problems are a reality:

“We have seen that they have halved salaries for fighters, and sometimes they are paid late. However, I don’t think they are having economic problems because they have taken over more oil wells and they are increasing the taxes” – Male 18-35 from Raqqa, Syria

Download reports

Syria 2016 Press Release

Syria 2016 Tables

Non-confidential intelligence reports: