By Jill Dougherty
Members of the Syrian opposition support international armed intervention in their country, including establishing a "no-fly" zone, humanitarian corridors and training Free Syrian Army fighters, but they do not support an international presence on the ground, a survey showed.
The survey of the Syrian opposition was conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports democracy around the world.
It is funded by the U.S. Congress, the State Department and private donations. A quarter of the respondents gave the umbrella opposition organization, the Syrian National Council (SNC), high ratings for legitimacy. But the survey also showed that the council is struggling to consolidate its appeal to a broad section of Syrians who support the opposition movement.
Asked which country treats the opposition best, the respondents cited France, Qatar and Turkey, followed by Britain, Libya, Germany, the United States, and Saudi Arabia. China, Russia and Iran were chosen as countries that treat the opposition the worst.
If an international alliance does intervene militarily in Syria, the respondents said it should be led by Turkey.
The respondents said they were 81% Sunni Arabs and 85% male, and educated. Two thirds said they had a university certificate or certificate of post graduate education.
IRI carried out the survey from June 1 to July 2 with the international survey research firm Pechter Polls of Princeton, N.J.
Because of security issues, IRI said the survey was conducted electronically and was not a random sample. Instead, it used "snowball" methodology, which the group described as "relying strictly on dissidents who were known to IRI."
Key individuals were used to initiate the referral chain, IRI said, "ultimately reaching a sample of 1,168 opposition members, approximately 315 of whom were inside Syria."
Asked to rate priorities for the opposition in a post-Assad Syria the respondents put establishing a strong judicial system and giving fair trials to suspected war criminals at the top of the list. But they also supported punishing war criminals without judicial process.
If Syrian President Bashar al-Assad eventually leaves office, 82% of Syrian respondents living outside the country said they would return at least temporarily.