Syria: Americans pessimistic, but softening on Obama

November 07, 2013, 5:11 PM GMT+0

American attitudes have softened on the President's handling of Syria, but remain pessimistic about the deal to destroy the country's chemical weapons

Last week, Syria met its second major deadline in the Framework to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reported that Syria has destroyed all its declared chemical weapons mixing, filling and production facilities. This means that Syria can no longer produce chemical weapons, but destruction of its existing stockpiles has yet to start.

According to new YouGov research, support for the way President Obama is handling the Syria situation has increased since a deal was struck to rid Syria of chemical weapons, and disapproval is down about 10% from it's high point in the beginning of September.

Still, more Americans disapprove (42%) of Obama's handling of the situation than approve (34%), and the number of Americans who now have no opinion on his performance (24%) is at its highest since late August, just over a week after an attack in Damascus vaulted Syria back into headlines.

Americans also remain pessimistic about the deal brokered by Russia and the United States, which assured the U.S. would not launch military strikes in Syria for the time being.

In a poll conducted September 14-16, immediately after the deal was finalised, YouGov found that six in ten Americans (60%) thought that Syria was just stalling for time rather than negtiating in good faith. Three days later (September 17-18) a majority of Americans (51%) stated it was unlikely Syria will honor the terms of the agreement and surrender their stockpile.

The latest poll shows that many (36%) do not think the Syrian government will meet future deadlines, more than twice those who think it will meet them (15%). Republicans are the most skeptical, with almost half (46%) believing that the government will be unable to meet deadlines.

However, Americans appear not to be following the story very closely.

When asked if the Syrian government has been meeting it's deadlines, as it ostensibly has, almost half of Americans (48%) did not know. Many more Indepedents and Republicans think the Syrians are off track than think they are on it, while approximately 10% more Democrats tend to believe that the Syrian goverment is in fact meeting its deadlines.

Recently 11 rebel groups decided to not support "a group created abroad", referring to the secular, US backed rebel opposition. They are instead giving their support to a new Syrian rebel movement aiming to create a Syrian state based on Islamic law. Given established American antipathy towards Islamism, this new development is perhaps not likely to garner extra confidence from the American public.

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty.

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