Americans favor action as Syria seen as a "threat" to Mid-East stability

January 07, 2013, 9:15 PM GMT+0

A recent YouGov Omnibus poll, conducted shortly before this weekend’s rare public appearance by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, finds that most Americans believe that the situation in Syria could pose a “major” threat to the stability of the Middle East, and to the security of Israel.

During his first public speech in months, Assad laid out a “peace plan” for Syria, discussing the prospect of constitutional change but refusing to engage in dialogue with those "who have betrayed” the country.

During an appearance at the Damascus Opera House Sunday, the Syrian President vowed to continue his fight against anti-Assad forces "as long as there is one terrorist left", condemning his opponents as “terrorists” and “puppets of the West”. He crucially ignored calls to step down.

Assad’s speech was lambasted as being "beyond hypocritical" by one international leader, and Syrians on both sides argued that the “peace plan” would do nothing to end violence in a country which has witnessed more than 60,000 deaths in two years, according to a recent United Nations report. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the Assad regime for the death toll, and criticized the United Nations Security Council for failing to act.

In the U.S., Americans have mixed attitudes when it comes to what – if anything – the government should do to support anti-Assad forces in Syria. According to YouGov’s Omnibus survey conducted Dec 28-31, more than half the population (56%) would prefer to see the United States take some form of action, be it economic or military intervention.

Nearly one in five Americans (18%) support the use of economic sanctions, while 38% would prefer to see some form of military action. More than two fifths of the population (44%) would prefer to take “no action” at all where Syria is concerned.

According to last week’s poll, 31% of Americans would like to see the U.S. provide anti-Assad forces with air support (but not ground support), while just 7% wants to see the U.S. send ground troops into Syria.

Interestingly among partisans, Republicans are more likely to support military intervention (48%), Democrats are more likely to support economic sanctions (27%) and Independents are more likely to support no action (53%) where Syria is concerned.

Understandably, fears of “another Iraq” have beleaguered the media and diplomatic rumor mills for months, but our Omnibus survey shows that one in five Americans (20%) simply don’t believe that the situation in Syria poses any threat to the security of the United States.

In total, around two thirds of the population thinks that the Syrian situation poses “no threat” or a “minor threat” to U.S. security (67%), which would likely count towards a disinterest on the part of many Americans for military forces to be sent in to assist with another “overseas war”.

However, nearly a quarter of Americans (23%) believe that the situation poses a “major” threat to the U.S., and more than half think that the current situation poses a major threat to the stability of the Middle East (59%) and to the security of Israel (51%). With this in mind, Americans are clearly not prepared to turn their backs on the people of Syria.

The YouGov Omnibus survey is a daily measure of public opinion that runs Monday through Friday among a nationally-representative sample of adults in the United States.

For further information about poll results, and for details about methodology and Omnibus services, please email