Syrian intervention and the UN

April 02, 2012, 10:43 AM GMT+0

Multi-country poll shows European nations want military intervention in Syria, but only with backing from UN

New results from our multi-country poll show that most of the European nations surveyed, including Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Finland, France and Britain, would prefer Western countries to provide military assistance to Syria, but only with the backing of the UN.

Almost half of British, Swedish and Finnish respondents, along with the majority of respondents from Denmark, feel that Western nations should have the backing of the United Nations before assisting Syria.

  • 53% of Danish respondents say action should only be taken with backing from the UN
  • Almost half of British respondents (48%) agree that UN backing should be part of any action
  • 45% of the Swedish and another 45% of Finnish agree
  • Almost 2 in 5 (39%) Germans feel UN backing is necessary
  • Just 35% of French respondents say that any intervention should have backing from the UN

United Nations action in Syria against Bashar al-Assad's regime has so far been vetoed by China and Russia meaning the UN cannot back any action by the Western nations to intervene.

Without UN backing

Sweden shows the highest support for taking action in Syria regardless of UN support, followed closely by France, while Britons are the least supportive of this course of action.

  • 30% of Swedes think Western countries should take action in Syria regardless of UN backing
  • France is close behind with 29% of respondents agreeing to this
  • 27% of Germans think Western countries should take action regardless of whether they have UN support
  • Denmark and Finland are less keen on taking action without UN backing, with just 18% of Danes and 15% of Finns agreeing
  • Britons are the least supportive of acting without the UN at only 10%

No intervention at all

Britain is the country that feels strongest that Western countries should not take any action against the Syrian regime, and most polled nations have less than 1 in 5 agreeing.

  • Almost a quarter of Britons (24%) feel that no action should be taken by Western countries to intervene in the Syrian regime
  • Almost 1 in 5 respondents from Finland (18%) feel no action should be taken
  • 16% of Germans say no action should be taken, along with 14% of Danes
  • Just over 1 in 10 respondents from France (11%) agree
  • Sweden is least in favour of this option, with just 8% choosing this course of action

Syrians are lobbying for Western support after foreign intervention from NATO played a role in the overthrow of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi last year. However, the prospect of foreign protection for Syria has proven more complicated.

Should the US rule out intervention?

The Obama administration has so far ruled out military intervention in Syria, as it claims to see 'no strong reason' for the US to intervene. Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma has spoken out in favour of this analysis.

'US officials are unanimous in arguing that the Assad regime is doomed and can only hang on for a limited time, with or without increased US support for the Syrian opposition,' he says. 'This means that the US has no compelling national security interest in jumping into the Syrian civil war that is emerging. The regime's days are numbered.'

Amir Taheri, Saudi commentator on the Al-Arabiya News site, has criticised this stance, writing that 'paradoxically, the prospect of foreign military intervention may be the surest means of avoiding…a foreign crisis. Like all cowards in history, Assad would stop killing only when persuaded that there is a force out there, beyond the actual conflict that is willing and able to stop him.'

See the full details and results here