June 17th, 2013
02:46 PM ET
1 year ago

Arming Syrian rebels not popular, polls say

(CNN) – Even as President Barack Obama seeks to rally support for his plan to further assist Syrian rebels at this week's Group of Eight conference in Northern Ireland, polls show Americans back home casting a wary eye on providing arms to opposition forces in the conflict-torn nation.

In a Gallup survey conducted over the weekend, 54% of adults said they disapproved of the Obama administration's decision to provide military aid to rebel fighters in Syria, compared to 37% who said they approved of the move.

The announcement of the new lethal aid to Syria came on Thursday, when the White House said it had confirmed that chemical weapons were used by President Bashar al-Assad against rebels and his own people, and thereby crossed a "red line." While the Obama administration did not specify what type of military support it would provide, sources have told CNN that small arms and ammunition are part of the package.

Republicans were more likely in Gallup's poll to disapprove of arming Syrian rebels – 63% said they disagreed with the new U.S. stance. Among Democrats, 42% disapproved of the change in policy.

Even before Thursday's announcement, a majority of Americans stood opposed to ramping up lethal support to rebels in Syria. A Pew Research Center poll conducted partly before the news showed 70% opposed to sending arms to Syrian rebels. Twenty percent said they favored the move.

That poll reflected a drop in support since March, when 29% of Americans surveyed said they supported sending arms to Syrian opposition forces.

In this week's Pew poll, 68% said the U.S. military was already overcommitted, and thus unable to intervene effectively in Syria. Sixty percent suggested the opposition forces receiving American arms may not be any better than the Assad regime.

The Gallup survey was conducted by telephone from June 15-16 from 1,015 adults, and the sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

In Pew's survey, 1,512 adults were surveyed by telephone between June 12-16. The sampling error was plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.


Filed under: Polls • Syria
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Geordie

    What started out as a rebellion against a corrupt government , has now been hijacked by extremist groups and will give the Taliban a new foothold . Obama is once again showing us that he doesn't have the knowledge of international affairs nor does he have the leadership skills , he has been an absent President.
    Sending weapons to Syria now would only end up in the hands of terrorists.

    June 17, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. sonny chapman

    Looks like the American Public is smarter than our leaders.

    June 17, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. PJ

    Before we do anything, I want to know:

    1. Will we have support from other Countries in the region? No way should we be the "lone wolf"
    2. Absolutely no, none, nada boots on the ground, and
    3. Who will pay for the "rebuilding"? We have our own Country to rebuild. Infrastructure, jobs,
    economy, etc.
    4. Does McCain or Graham answer any of these questions, or just make demands on the President, then
    criticize him because weapons "are not enough".
    5. How can we be absolutely sure that the "right" people get the weapons.
    Guess you could say, this makes me very nervous.
    I'm sad for the people of Syria, but who can we trust?

    June 17, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Loyalright

    What happened to all the liberals that say Republicans want to go to war all the time. The polls proved you wrong. We put our noises into Arab Spring and that caused four Americans to lose their lives. Stay out of other countries business. Let the dust settle and then reevaluate.

    June 17, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. american

    U all disgust me. Innocent people r dying n were all just standn by letn it happen. Wats wrong w u people? Women r being raped by the gov troops. kids r dying and americans dont wana help. Thats rite i am an american and if i could i wud go over there n help fight the gov troops. Im disgusted u people dont wana help. If we were n the same position we wud want help frm other people. Wow

    June 17, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. Name Uche Agonsi

    I wish America should develop a political system that would strive for peace without war. My other desire/wish is for Obama to hasten up the withdrawal of US troops in Afghan even before the 2014 deadline to facilitate the economic recovery of US & equally help in bringing down the US debt. Having said these, I want to add here that the only thing working for Obama in his decision to arm Syrian Rebels, against majority of Americans opinion, is the active support on the mission by US allies/NATO. This is seen as a healthy development. But the question that remains unanswered is who among the warring parties can bring stability & peace in the region........knowing how rebellion has become a culture of these moslems .

    June 17, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  7. just sayin

    the time to act was two years ago, when you could have affected the outcome. now, assad has regained the upper hand, has brought in allies, has the russians ready to send him advanced missiles. in short it is too late. obama, a day late and a dollar short, as usual. it is what you get when you lead from behind. a great opprtunity to get rid of assad was missed and now iran and hezbollah are much bigger players.

    June 17, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Geordie

    What started out as a rebellion against a corrupt government , has now been hijacked by extremist groups and will give the Taliban a new foothold . Obama is once again showing us that he doesn't have the knowledge of international affairs nor does he have the leadership skills
    ---------------------
    Is not that exactly what happened in Iraq, a genuine rebellion being hijacked by outside groups? And, we had boots on the ground in Iraq. It's pretty obvious that once the US involves itself, it's going to sucked in to the point where there is no exit plan aside from fighting the fight ourselves.....which also means fighting the Russians. Or didn't you know that?

    No, only warmongers want to go into Syria with guns blazing and no exit strategy. The Russians have deeply rooted military stakes in Syria. Try using one of those web programs to look at the Syrian coast line. You reach a point where you suddenly can't zoom in anymore. It's a naval station run by the Russians, and it's the closest thing they have to a warm water port.

    Most of the Russian navy are subs that go under the polar ice caps. Ever heard of a Russian aircraft carrier before? If Assad falls then the future of that port becomes in doubt, and the Russians are not having for any of that. Why else do you think that they have sent state-of-the-art anti-aircraft weaponry and radar systems to Syria. A no-fly zone would cost $50 million per day, and it wouldn't work because of the Russian hardware. It's not Iraq in the 1990s.

    June 17, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  9. Wilson

    We should stay out of this. But we should have also stayed out of Egypt and Libya as well.

    June 17, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Marie MD

    I don't agree in getting involved with mcnasty and his palling around with kidnappers or not but what really turned my stomach was one of these guys cutting open somebody (hope the guy was really already dead) taking out his heart and taking a bite of said heart.
    I still have the image of a poor camel (Time) being slaughtered in the name of whatever and that was a celebration!

    June 17, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    Well, it should be fun watching the GOP/Teatrolls hem and haw and try to find a way to use this against Obama after supporting this kind of "free weapon giveaway" idiocy for the past 40 years.

    June 17, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  12. Guess

    The gop will push this to war with iran if we let them, thats the gop goal,. they see a no lose situation here, and they are right, stay out of it, if the gop gripes, too bad, thats good for you. The will critisize til you are too far to turn back, and call you a coward, or a war monger if you do. mr.pres. stay the fik out of their, you dont actually think the american people believe this is about human rights, cause its not

    June 17, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  13. Joseph Hiddink

    Friends of the Rebels will feel relieved that their friends in America started the big fires that destroyed many homes.
    It is just a small nudge for the US to get behind the terrorrists or else. People in wooded areas better invest in video cameras to see the darlling religious people setting fires .

    June 17, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. Steveo

    So how long before these weapons are aimed at us by folks who don't like us? OH WAIT, those are the very same folks we are giving them to in the first place! When will we learn? We helped get rid of Mubarek in Egypt and look what replaced him! A hot mike told us they think of us as their enemies and yet are handing billions to them. When will we learn?

    June 17, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. Guess

    Why are we worried about syria? there are other human rights violations in the world. right here.

    June 17, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  16. donna

    Obama says Syria used Sarin gas, and as a response he will send a few guns to the rebels.

    It's just not a believable response to such a serious accusation.

    June 17, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. Steveo

    @american

    U all disgust me. Innocent people r dying n were all just standn by letn it happen. Wats wrong w u people? Women r being raped by the gov troops. kids r dying and americans dont wana help. Thats rite i am an american and if i could i wud go over there n help fight the gov troops. Im disgusted u people dont wana help. If we were n the same position we wud want help frm other people. Wow
    -------------
    Same thing happened in Iran, we did not go there! Same thing happened in Sri Lanka, same thing in the Sudan, in Bahrain, In Libya, in the Congo and elsewhere!

    June 17, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  18. Steveo

    @Guess

    The gop will push this to war with iran if we let them, thats the gop goal,. they see a no lose situation here, and they are right, stay out of it, if the gop gripes, too bad, thats good for you. The will critisize til you are too far to turn back, and call you a coward, or a war monger if you do. mr.pres. stay the fik out of their, you dont actually think the american people believe this is about human rights, cause its not
    --------------–
    Do you realize Bill Clinton (a DEM) called out Obama (a DEM) for doing nothing. Clinton driving us to war? Clinton warmonger too?

    June 17, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  19. Guess

    Wondering if the gop promised to cooperate on legislature if he gives them syria? this is not a good idea, let the gop bang their war drum til they deafen themselves, you dont kknow enough, or already know to much about these rebels. look @mccain, he ended up looking like a fool, who has no ides who he is talking to, and he didnt

    June 17, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  20. Guess

    America is tired of our country spending all our taxes on war, we are all to aware of its costs. we simply cant be the global police

    June 17, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. Rick McDaniel

    "Not popular" would be an understatement. Really.

    Of course, he isn't REALLY serious. Small arms against sarin gas, is like using slingshots against Goliath.

    June 17, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. just askin

    just more of obama looking like he is trying to do something while not actually doing anything meaningful. he was shamed into it by bill clinton. this is no way to run a country or a foreign policy. to call obama a clueless amatuer at this point is to give him too much credit.

    June 17, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Geordie

    Rudy NYC
    What is your point..???
    Not only do I know the coastline of Syria very well but I have visited that country a couple of times and have some friends there.There is a Russian naval station near the port of Tartus and yes I have been there too.
    So no need to be so cynical.
    Syrians were hoping for some support before the extreme bloodshed started but are now worried that supply of weapons will end up in the wrong hands.
    This is a sad and catastrophic time for that country , show some humanity and stop looking at it from a Republican or Democratic stand point.

    June 17, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. it must be said

    Well if all these guys got is toy like rockets, I don't think sending them a few small arms is going to do much. Stingers, anti-tank weapons, artillery, is what is needed. But they need to be taught how to use it correctly. I guess that is what the Arab allies are for?

    June 17, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |