World

Ambassador to Syria Will Face Negative Views of U.S.

by Steve Crabtree

Two in three Syrians have an unfavorable opinion of the United States


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Obama administration announced this week that it plans to send a U.S. ambassador to Syria, an important signal that it seeks improved relations between the two countries. The new ambassador will have to contend with widespread anti-U.S. sentiment among Syrians. Asked in a poll in March 2009 to rate their opinion of the United States on a 5-point scale, about two-thirds (64%) of Syrians expressed an unfavorable view (combining scale points 1 and 2). This figure is similar to evaluations in several other Arab countries, including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.

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Syrians' approval of U.S. leadership were also predominantly negative: 71% said they disapproved of U.S. leadership, while just 15% approved. Among the Arab populations listed in the graph, only Palestinians (80%) were significantly more likely than Syrians to say they disapprove of U.S. leadership, though disapproval rates were similar among Iraqis (76%) and Yemenis (72%).

Survey Methods


Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,082 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in March 2009 in Syria. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3.5 percentage points.

Results from other Arab countries are based on face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in February and March 2009. Non-Arabs were excluded from the sample in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait; samples in these countries are nationally representative of Arab adults. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranged from a low of ±3.3 percentage points in Tunisia to a high of ±3.8 percentage points in Yemen.

The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
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