Pilot Peace Poll for Syria
Download the WAPOR Doha regional conference paper here: Pilot Study for a 'People's Peace Process' in Syria
Download the WAPOR Doha conference presentation here: 'People's Peace Process' in Syria PowerPoint
Download the full report with questionnaire and results here: Syria Pilot Peace Poll Report
Download The Day After (TDA) short version of the report in English here: TJ Pilot Survey TDA (English)
Download The Day After (TDA) short version of the report in Arabic here: TJ Pilot Survey TDA (Arabic)
Methodology and Sample - Using a questionnaire developed in Gaziantep with input from relevant stakeholders in April 2014, 1500 interviews were collected across Opposition occupied areas of Syria and refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan in May, June, July and August 2014. This sample was not statistically ‘representative’ of the population but can be used to identify ‘indicative’ trends and relationships in terms of critical demographics including ethnicity, religion, region/Governorate, age, gender and education. Using the same questionnaire and methodology additional pilot samples were collected in October 2014 to include 50 Alawites in Regime held areas and 50 Kurdish refugees in Turkey following their expulsion from Kobani by ISIS.
Problems - In an open ended question the top problem for the Sunni majority was the Syrian Regime followed by the war and shelling while the war was the top problem for Kurds followed by the Syrian Regime and ‘terrorism from both sides’. The war was also the top problem for the Alawites followed then by ISIS. Using a list of 25 different problems common to conflicts globally the severity of the situation in Syria was made apparent with ‘So many killed and displaced by violence’ being a top problem in most areas. Significantly, in the October pilot ‘No effective negotiations to end the conflict’ was now 2nd on the Kurd refugee list up from 5th in the summer and 4th on the Alawite list up from 8th on the Sunni list.
Conflict and Responsibility – In the Opposition held areas the Syrian Regime is held most responsible for starting the conflict and keeping it going, with, to a lesser extent ‘Regional and International forces’. However the Opposition is also partly blamed for the continuation of the conflict with only about a quarter of those interviewed saying they were ‘Not responsible at all’. Although the Alawites in Regime held areas place most blame on the Opposition and regional forces they also place significant blame on their own Regime. Everyone, it appears, understands that no one is totally without blame in this conflict.
Justice - Given the severity of the violence in Syria ‘Fair trials of most responsible persons’ was the top justice priority for the majority of those sampled with what might be characterised as longer term lesser priorities such as ‘Democracy’ and ‘Reconciliation’ much lower on Sunni and Kurd lists. However, in the longer term ‘Reform of government institutions’ is seen as the most important element for conflict resolution. Alawites also want reform but significantly place ‘Democracy’ at the top of their list. With regards to justice and restitution the prosecution of those who ordered gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity would seem to be the only acceptable outcome while loss of property and livelihood could be compensated for financially. All crimes should be documented and in this regard civil society organisations are playing an important role in Opposition held areas but not, it would appear, in Regime held areas where Alawites are not documenting such crimes. Although a majority of the Sunni population sampled favour Sharia law and courts with regard to the future administration of justice, significantly, women, those who are better-educated and ethnic minorities do not. They prefer courts operated to international standards and this approach to Justice is only rejected by a conservative minority that appears to be dominated by less well-educated young men in more conservative regions of Syria. Alawites also reject Sharia law and courts in favour of ‘Syrian law and courts operating to UN international standards with international monitoring’.
Violation of Human Rights - The Sunni majority have suffered more human rights violations than the Kurd minority with the Regime forces held most responsible although the Kurds also identified the Armed Brigades as significant abusers and this was increasingly true for the Kurd refugees displaced by ISIS. Abuses were recorded as both widespread and serious and as a consequence the prospects for justice without prosecution through, for example, Truth Commissions, are limited at this time. However, in the longer term a significant majority from all ethnic and religious backgrounds would welcome a national dialogue to resolve Syria’s problems and write a new constitution to international human rights standards. Significantly Sunni, Kurds and Alawites all shared this same aspiration.
Recommendations – Develop a new questionnaire with all willing participating stakeholders to map out the elements of a ‘People’s Peace Process’ for post conflict institutional and constitutional reform in Syria using indicative samples of all critical populations and representative samples wherever this is possible.