Given the news that the EU is not to renew the ban on sending arms to Syria, I thought it worth revisiting some of the recent polling on the subject. YouGov asked about supplying arms to the Syrian rebels at the start of the month and found very little support. Only 17% supported sending arms, with 56% opposed.

Polling back in April had delved a little deeper into opinions of sending arms to Syria. People were actually far more positive towards sending protective military equipment, such as flak jackets and helmets (46% support, 30% oppose). There was much less support for sending actual guns (only 17% support) and overwhelming opposition towards sending heavy weaponry (11% support, 64% oppose).


39 Responses to “Polling on arms to Syria”

  1. Fourth!!

  2. If Syria is a powder keg, throwing further arms in to it is akin to throwing in a lit match.

  3. You have now got an arms race.

    Russia are sends anti-aircrart missiles.

    It;s a big fat NO from me, but we are the USA’ puppet and our politicians from all of the 3 main parties seem to want to “keep America happy”

    Getting involved in wars all over the world is crazy, costly and bites us in the ass in the long run.

    This can’t be a vote winner, for the Tories or pro-euro camp. That’s right our foreign policy now goes through the EU.

  4. With the number of countries/groups getting involved in Syria, we have to be carefull not to start a wider conflict. Even WW3.

  5. There I was thinking – there’s been quite a lot of YouGov polling on Syria, though we haven’t discussed it much. Shall I look for it? – nah Anthony will be along in a minute. And so it proved.

    What is most interesting about these polls, as with Libya, is that, when questions are framed in anon-partisan way (ie not mentioning the government, PM etc), how little variation there is across Party support. Perhaps UKIPers are a touch more isolationist, Lib Dems a bit more in favour of British intervention (again as in Libya) but also most against supplying arms. But there’s very little in it.

  6. Replying to the previous thread:

    So how come these rebels have got money to buy weapons?

    I think it will be the usual ‘quid pro quo’ as seen in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya – namely those countries which supply arms or forces getting lucrative rebuilding contracts.

  7. I think support will increase now. If the Coalition decide to send weapons to Syria, most of the Coalition’s supporters will fall into line.

  8. Anthony

    Any ideas why that went to moderation? UKIPers?

  9. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-22689552

    This is a truly lovely story and demonstrates the way to break down barriers.

  10. Simon

    I think the point is that we will make money from this war, we are after all a major arm producer, business is business. I don’t think anyone has suggested just giving the arms away but even if they did you can be sure that we will benefit somehow

  11. We need conflicts to keep our armaments businesses flourishing, the UK is a world class producer of weapons of war, and thousands of jobs rely on our ability to compete in a very tough market, should we be proud of our skill ? I think so, we live in the real world, so, send the guns in.

  12. I see that enforcing a No Fly Zone gets a net support.

    I wonder how respondents would answer after today’s news that Russia intends supplying Assad with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles -and Israel will bomb the installations if they do.

    There are so many proxy wars here, with the interests of Iran, Saudi, Israel, USA, all at work. Following Hezbollah’s outright support for Assad, the Sunni Syrian rebels attack Lebanese Shiites, spilling the bloody sectarian civil war over the border into benighted Lebanon.

    I cannot see a political solution -whatever pressure Hollande & Hague imagine will result from the lapsing of the EU arms embargo .

    And we we would be mad to match Russia’s move with arms for the opposition.

    This could blow up into something really nasty-and we need to be on the outside , not the inside.

  13. @paulcroft

    I’ve been clicking back and forth from your link for five minutes now… the story has gone from 3rd to 2nd most popular read (and 2nd most shared).

    Feeling devious tonight!

  14. Ken

    My economics teacher taugh us that wars are a good way for us to test our technology and show it off to the world, a sort of sick presentation or sales pitch to the world.

  15. According to wiki we are the sixth largest arms exporter and France is the fourth largest, I thought we were higher up but still there is a fair bit of money involved

  16. I see that enforcing a No Fly Zone gets a net support.

    I wonder how respondents would answer after today’s news that Russia intends supplying Assad with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles -and Israel will bomb the installations if they do.

    There are so many proxy wars here, with the interests of Iran, Saudi, Israel, USA, all at work. Following Hezbollah’s outright support for Assad, the Sunni Syrian rebels attack Lebanese Shiites, spilling the brutal sectarian civil war over the border into benighted Lebanon.

    I cannot see a political solution -whatever pressure Hollande & Hague imagine will result from the lapsing of the EU arms embargo .

    And we we would be mad to match Russia’s move with arms for the opposition.

    This could blow up into something really nasty-and we need to be on the outside , not the inside.

  17. I must say I concur with this analysis.

    http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/international/Analysis_-_France_and_Britain_roll_the_dice_on_Syria.html?cid=35969346

    What do Hague & Hollande do now if ( when) the Geneva peace talks fail to produce any progress?

  18. From previous thread to answer Richatd UN’s question:

    “@ RiN
    On credit (on assets to be sold after they won)? Maybe some odd Near East sovereign funds?
    I doubt if without Western intervention the rebels can win. If the S-300 are delivered and they know how to use them (as many of the personnel were trained in Russia, they probably can), there’s no chance of a Western intervention. Other regional countries would think twice – because of Israel.
    Historically it’s interesting that France and the UK push for the implicit intervention. They had quite an argument over the control of Syria.

  19. Terrible spell check… Richard in Norway – it was an answer to you. And it fits well here.

  20. Britain and France don’t have a great history when it comes to intervening in the Middle East. Suez, Algeria, Afghanistan and Iraq have shown us as much.

    Having said that, Suez was the last joint venture and I doubt that any satirists will be figuring out any sort of Eden-Cameron comparison any time soon.

  21. @ Colin

    As you can see from the copied over post, I fully agree with you and indeed Lebanon makes it even more complicated.

    If the S-300 are delivered there won’t be no fly zone (neither side want the risk involved). Also, unlike , use of airpower is less of an issue in Syria. After using the non fly zone in Libya to destroy ground troops – the French-UK alliance has a problem currently.

    Anyway about S-300 – with train crew it can take down missiles let alone aircrafts (but I don’t think it would happen)

  22. It will be a sad day if the UK and France decide to arm the various opposition groups in Syria, their is no way either country can know where the various arms shipments will finally end up.

    There are groups fighting in Syria alined with al-Qaeda the mortal enemies of the Uk and France who may well receive these arms dispite any assurances to the contrary.
    Its not inconceivable that those very weopons could be used on the streets of this country one day,or against our soldiers somewhere in the world.

    We must have the courage and common sense to step back and no matter how uncomfortable or horrible or what the outcome is, let Syria resolve it’s own civil war ,the only thing we should supply is humanitary aid.

  23. I really have to stop post ink from a mobile…

    No Fly Zones are less important in Syria than they were in Libya. After that it is unlikely that the Alliance can get away by the NFZ as a pretext to destroy ground forces (a missing word made my previous post difficult to understand).

    The S-300 would have an influence if the government forces had trainED crew. If they had, they won’t be needed as there would not be a Western intervention (using NFZ to help the rebels).

  24. Laszlo

    You must know me by now, the only time I ask such a pointed question is when I already know the answer, or a least think I know! It is said that Saudi and Qatar are the major backers of the “rebels” indeed it is understood that many of the so called rebels are actually mercenaries in the pay of Qatar

  25. @ RiN

    I know it was a rhetoric question. I wouldn’t be surprised if different factions were supported by different sponsors and some sponsors supporting more than one competitor and perhaps both sides.

  26. The schism within Islam, and the violence which each side is willing to inflict on the other is taking lives constantly across the Middle East.

    It is at the heart of the Syrian civil war, and the continuing sectarian slaughter in Iraq.

    You don’t see many protest marches about it.

  27. AW
    May I substitute the following for my post of 10.34?

    Syria
    I am struck by the lack of reference in this thread to the likelihood of increased civilian loss of life which will occur as a result of the lifting of the Syrian arms embargo and the escalation of fighting which will occur. Anyone who has served in the army will know that, especially in urban fighting, the concept of collateral loss of life of civilians is a euphemism for the fact that behind the sights of a gun anything that moves is a target, whether soldier, woman or child. Artillery and air fire, now being widely used, especially by the Government forces, are totally indiscriminate.
    For any discussion, on this blog or in political talks in Geneva, or in statements to the press, to be conducted in terms of putting pressure on the Assad regime by increasing the flow and quality of armaments, or, still worse, of the varying interests or rights of nations, in supplying arms to the Government of Syria or to the rebels, is a disgrace. The weapons which are supplied will not disappear at the conclusion of the conflict, any more than the ratcheting up of hostility between Russia, France, Israel and the UK and competing Middle Eastern governments.
    The overwhelming opposition to the lifting of the arms embargo revealed in the yogov poll suggests that this is a defining moment in the character of our defence industry not as supporting peace and our own defence, balanced by aid and political support and strrengthening which would bring warring societies back into peace and international commerce. Instead we risk having an industry which profits from conflict and from a readiness to expose innocent and vulnerable societies to the means of the increasingly professional and technically sophiisticated conduct of war at arms length – or worse, with the unfolding of events, risking the involvement of our own forces on the ground as conflict escalates and spreads.

  28. @ Colin

    They may dress it the cloak of secterianism, but it isn’t about the meaning of the doctrine. It’s especially clear in Syria.

  29. People clearly think its lunacy to be giving arms to jihadis.

    Is there polling, however, on the constitutional position? Since when has the EU been in charge of Britain’s foreign policy? Is the Lisbon penny dropping with people yet? Do people approve? Have they been asked?

    How will they react when they realise that we do not have an independent foreign policy? And that all the ‘co-operation’ with France on military matters is just just us being good neighbours, it is the nascent EU army and navy?

    Far more shocking to many people, I think, than the shocking news that we are to arm jihadis.

  30. Colin

    It’s no where near as bad as the 30 years war or any of the other Protestant versus Catholic wars

  31. I see Jon Snow is calling for more understanding of Pakistan shortly after two anti-polio workers were shot dead there.

  32. RIN
    Wea-hey, Richard! Let’s go back to the Middle Ages, when they know how to kill in God’s name.

  33. know – knew

  34. RICHARD

    So that will be a comfort to the relatives of those being slaugtered for being the “wrong” sort of muslim.

  35. LASZLO

    @”They may dress it the cloak of secterianism, but it isn’t about the meaning of the doctrine”

    I disagree.

    If I see one more all male mob of nut jobs screaming about blasphemy & demanding death to some poor sod in a supposedly civilised country, I think I will be sick.

  36. Now’s probably the time to mention that Assad is a secular Baathist with a largely Alawite supporter base. It’s more about a geopolitical power struggle between the (admittedly largely Shia) Russian backed Iranian block and the (admittedly largely Sunni) American backed Saudi block.

    The whole thing is just tragic. Syria is being destroyed and I can no longer see any way back for them. Massive multilateral intervention a year ago might have forced a political settlement but not now. Assad and his supporters have killed tens of thousands and now we have videos of rebels eating hearts, and all the neighbouring and regional powers are piling in for a piece of advantage. I can’t see how a country can move past that, politically, or where the impetus for that is going to come from. What solutions are left? Partition, maybe?

    On the UK Government, they should intervene effectively or not at all. Anything else is just leading the Syrian people on for more slaughter.

  37. So why is the UK involved at all? It was never part of the Empire / Commonwealth.

    It’s just sticking our nose in again pretending as we once had an empire we are still important. In austerity times cant we leave Syria to those who have been ihistorically nvolved in Syria.

    Why do events like the murder In Woolwich occur? Answer – because we have been involved in too many wars which are of no concern of ours.

    Oh, I forget – because the UK and USA are the world’s biggest arms exporters that’s why we want to sell the weapons… Silly me…

  38. I hope we get some more polls on this.

  39. The only reason people would support arming the rebels or giving them anything at all is out of ignorance of their actions. The media doesn’t reflect the true depravity of the groups these weapons would find their way to.

    They don’t know about the rebels decapitations, cannibalism, bombing of public areas, bombing of mosques etc. They just believe they’re benevolent freedom fighters intent on bringing democracy to Syria.

    Most of the Syrian people don’t support these rebels and they definitely don’t want sharia law imposed on them. The west is only supporting them so they can topple Assad and leave the country as devastated as Iraq is now. They want Syria neutered so they can go for Iran.