Posted by Alex on Thursday, May 31st, 2007
Posted by ALEX
About a year ago, the polling site Syriapol was launched, created by George Ajjan, a Syrian-American Republican activist who has commented frequently on US-Syria relations here and elsewhere. Below is a press release that includes a summary of the first phase of the project, in which most of the 350 poll takers were expat Syrians. George hopes to get more participation from inside Syria in the second phase. Although online polls are usually not as reliable as properly designed polls which try to ensure that their samples are representative of the broader population, George managed to to get closer to the ideal case by targeting Syrians who held various political views by listing a link to syriapol on most of the popular Syrian blogs and sites. This ensured that the sample of participants was not drawn exclusively from Syrians with any specific political camp.
Here is a graphic that shows typical results for one respondent (in Arabic), syriapol's press release follows.
Initial syriapol Results Released
Syrians frustrated with regime, but strongly reject foreign invasion, Islamic governance
Clifton, NJ, USA – syriapol, a study of Syrian public opinion, today released the initial indications of the first phase of its data collection, in which an online audience composed primarily of Syrian expatriates bluntly rejected an overthrow of the current Syrian regime through foreign military intervention, and expressed support for a secular form of government.
The survey’s creator, Syrian-American political activist George Ajjan, anticipates the second, more substantial phase of the project, which would entail greater participation from within Syria, thus far limited due to compliance with US sanctions against Syria. Ajjan, whose family emigrated to the US from the city of Aleppo in the early 20th century, says he created the project to offer more reliable information about Syrian public opinion to decision makers and activists across the globe than the biased propaganda spouted by political operatives, both pro-regime and pro-opposition.
syriapol, by contrast, uses a market research technique called conjoint analysis to extract the respondents’ preferences on a series of attributes related to regime change, form of government, economic reforms, democratic elections, as well as the Peace Process, and then immediately provides the results confidentially in a graphical format to the individual participant. According to Ajjan, the survey’s format, in which a participant evaluates a series of 16 hypothetical scenarios, encourages a more honest assessment because it does not ask direct yes/no questions that almost always lead to jaded responses from participants fearful of government spying.
As for the results, Ajjan says that the initial indications are interesting, but far from conclusive because about 75% of the approximately 350 respondents thus far do not live inside Syria. He further stipulates that online surveys could never provide a truly accurate picture of Syrian society on the whole, given the low rate of Internet penetration, with the caveat that the syriapol project at least provides some quantitative data to balance a political atmosphere currently filled with little more than spin.
Ajjan concludes, “From what I can see thus far, Syrians first and foremost want results: maintaining a secular culture, promoting economic reforms, establishing democratic elections at administrative levels, and gaining back the Golan Heights. The participants in general have little taste for violence and therefore still seem willing to offer the regime the chance to deliver on its rhetoric.” Concerning the overwhelmingly negative attitude expressed by survey respondents towards a foreign invasion of Syria, Ajjan cautions, “President Assad and his Administration should nevertheless be paying close attention because some responses also indicate support for a domestic uprising.”