Foreign intervention in Syria?

February 08, 2012, 10:45 AM GMT+0

Majority of Britons oppose military assistance in Syria, although 60% would enforce a no-fly zone

The majority of Britons are opposed to any kind of military intervention in Syria in light of escalating armed attacks between President Al-Assad and the recent revolutionary uprisings, but a large percentage of Britons would however support the enforcement of a no-fly zone over the nation, our poll has shown.

Syrian anti-government groups have called on the West to help put a stop to the escalating violence between security forces and armed protestors that has rocked the country in recent months.

  • 66% oppose sending British allied troops into Syria to help overthrow President Bashar al-Assad; 9% support it, 24% don’t know
  • 60% support a no-fly zone over Syria to stop the Syrian air force from attacking rebels or civilians; 18% oppose, 22% don’t know
  • 55% oppose the idea of providing arms to civilian rebels; 16% support it, 28% don’t know
  • 60% oppose the idea of sending British allied troops into Syria to protect civilians from attack; 18% support it, 22% don’t know

With Western military intervention considered unfavourable, the notion of the no-fly zone over parts of Syria has reportedly been proposed as a means to reduce casualties by preventing the Syrian air force from attacking rebels and civilians.

Should a no-fly zone be implemented without UN approval?

Almost half of the British community feel a no-fly zone should be imposed only with the approval of the UN, while 2 in 5 say a no-fly zone is not necessary at this time, our poll shows.

Syrian anti-Government protesters have continually called for international protection from NATO, taking the lead from the overthrow of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi early last year, in which NATO intervention played a vital role.

It has been suggested that a no-fly zone should only be implemented with the support of the United Nations, while others feel that with a UN stalemate in place, the EU or NATO could impose a no-fly zone without necessarily securing UN approval.

  • Our poll shows that 48% of Britons think a no-fly zone should only be imposed with the approval of the UN, while 21% feel that NATO or the EU should be able to impose a no-fly zone without UN approval
  • 8% say that no-fly zone should not be imposed at all
  • 40% believe that a no-fly zone over Syria is necessary right now
  • 27% say that a no-fly zone is not necessary now, but may become so in future if President Bashar al-Assad continues attacks on the Syrian people from the air

In response to the escalating situation, Syrian opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun told the BBC that 'We're asking them [the international community] to assess every possible option to create and enforce a safe area in Syria and to stop the atrocities being committed in Syrian towns.'

But NATO officials argue that the Libya 'template' is unlikely to work in Syria, adding that any proposed Syrian 'mission' currently lacks both international consensus and wider regional support. The organisation has also stated that it would be wary of implementing this defence after the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, warned that western intervention would cause an 'earthquake' that would 'burn the whole region'.

See survey details and full results here