Sunday, February 19, 2006

Syrian Political Attitudes Poll by George Ajjan

Dear readers,
George Ajjan, a friend and Syrian American, has come up with this interesting poll. I hope many readers will be willing to take take the poll. It is anonymous. George has put a lot of work into this. He has made it himself and will publish the results of the poll on "Syria Comment" for all of us to consider and discuss. The poll is quite powerful and will allow us to determine percentages for how Syrians feel about stability, the present government, democracy, economic growth, the Golan Heights, the peace process, etc. Nothing has been done like this before. The more people who take it, the more representative it will be. His effort has not been sponsored, paid for, encouraged, shaped, or influenced by any government or intelligence agency - CIA, Mossad, Mukhabarat, MI6, French Foreign Legion, Danish Muhammad loving league, KGB, or al-Qa’ida cell. I urge you all to take it. It was created in the best tradition of providing open knowledge and will be 15 minutes well spent. Readers can take it in either English or Arabic. Very best, Joshua

Here is George's description of it.

A new web-based polling portal for Syrians, named syriapol, has been
launched – http://www.syriapol.com/.
Feedback can be sent to me directly: george@ajjan.com, or through my personal
website http://www.ajjan.com/.

The aim
is two-fold:

1) To offer Syrians of all viewpoints a place
to express, in quantitative terms, their attitudes toward the status quo, or
changes to it

2) To provide that information, gathered through an
unbiased mechanism, to anyone who will make decisions, set policy, or advocate a
course of action, whether inside or outside the Syrian Arab Republic, and from any political viewpoint, whether pro-regime or anti-regime

syriapol’s goal is merely to collect valuable information, and
encourage its exchange. The project is actively neutral – it does
not seek to advocate any particular point of view, only to collect information
from Syrians regarding their views, whether they are pro-regime,
pro-opposition, or anywhere in between.

Syria cannot move forward without the engagement of Syrian citizens. Accordingly, this poll seeks to offer Syrians a space in which to apply complex and multi-faceted thought to their country's future. And it will provide those who make decisions, set policies, or promote courses of action with quality public opinion data from the Syrian people themselves.

The Syrian people will continue to feel the effects of positions advocated by various parties on the political, democratic, economic, and diplomatic fronts. A better an understanding of what the Syrian people desire in any of these areas, what they prefer to see change or remain the same, and strongly they feel about it – will play a crucial role in determining the success of any group, party, or regime seeking to move Syria forward.

The poll itself does not pose direct questions. Instead, it asks participants to evaluate a series of hypothetical scenarios concerning government, politics, economy, democracy, and the peace process. It then uses complex regression analysis techniques to quantitatively determine preferences of the respondents. Finally, by correlating the results to a series of demographic questions that accompany the poll, we can analyze Syrian society segmented by geography, sect, age, education level, etc.

Individual replies will remain confidential. If the respondent so chooses, syriapol
will share by email an analysis of that individual’s replies to the poll. Additionally, a summary of composite results and abstract findings will be published publicly and widely distributed.

syriapol is absolutely independent. It is not funded by, affiliated with, or otherwise
connected in any way whatsoever to any government, political party, movement, or
organization, in any country.

I invite all Syrians, and indeed anyone interested in Syrian attitudes toward government, politics, economy, democracy, and the peace process, to visit http://syria.ajjan.com/.

Feedback can be sent to me directly:

george@ajjan.com, or through my personal website http://www.ajjan.com/.

75 Comments:

At 2/19/2006 08:41:00 AM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

can we trust these informations ?can they realy be confidential?, certainly it can be sold to another party , like cia or syrian itelligence for money, who monitor the accuracy of the results?, or could somebody manipulate these informations?,like the election results in Iraq, can someone who lies and say he is syrian vote there?, even that he is not honest, such as many ,who participate in your syiacomment, they are jews or lebanese, or so.. they claim syrian irigin.

 
At 2/19/2006 08:56:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Majed you are a paranoid weirdo. if the CIA would want these information i am sure they wouldnt need to act. use your brain man, you have been hearing and believing too many conspiracy theories that we arabs love.

 
At 2/19/2006 10:04:00 AM, Blogger abu youssef said...

I answered the questions and requested that an email be sent with my responses but haven't received anything :( Is this a bug or should I be patient? I wonder...

 
At 2/19/2006 11:37:00 AM, Blogger George Ajjan said...

Thanks for your comments. Majed, I appreciate your concerns and skepticism, as many Syrians will probably respond the same way. All I can tell you is that I am not interested in selling the results. They will be made public for free (general conclusions, not individuals replies) for anyone to see, including Baath, CIA, etc.

As for people trying to manipulate the survey, suffice it to say that I have built a number of protective measures into the project to minimize the impact of such attempts.

Abu Youssef, please be patient, the email will come shortly, the replies are semi-manual at the moment. If any Syrian with strong computer programming skills would like to offer his/her time to help automate the process so that poll-takers will get their results immediately, please contact me: george@ajjan.com

Thanks to all for the positive feedback I have received by email.

 
At 2/19/2006 12:00:00 PM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

Syrian people love to demonstrate , because they love freedom, after the demonstration against the Denmark embassy, there come demonstration by worker with chicken, then judges,who were anned , now demonstrating infront of presidential office, thanks God its the begining

 
At 2/19/2006 01:04:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

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At 2/19/2006 01:10:00 PM, Blogger Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe said...

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At 2/19/2006 02:14:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

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At 2/19/2006 02:31:00 PM, Blogger Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe said...

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At 2/19/2006 02:38:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

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At 2/19/2006 03:31:00 PM, Blogger ugarit said...

Well here are results of my survey!!

Thank you for your participation in syriapol. Here are your results.

43% Method of Change
26% Form of Government
4% Economy
13% Democratic Elections
13% Peace Process


The number represents the percentage of your decision that depends upon each factor.

The most important issue for is the method of change of government in Syria. You are strongly against a foreign invasion, and you have equal preference for the current regime to stay in power or a domestic uprising that forces the regime to step down.

Second to this is the form of government. You are against an islamic government, and have slight preference for a sectarian form. You most prefer a secular government.

The next 2 issues, well behind these first 2, were your desire for democratic parliamentary elections in Syria, and your preference that Syria not regain the entire Golan Heights. Finally, economic issues were of practically no value to you.

 
At 2/19/2006 04:36:00 PM, Blogger Nicolas92200 said...

Dear George,

I'm happy to learn that you are responding to commentators directly. This would take out a layer of communication, had I wanted to pass a message via Josh.

The idea is really great. This is the first effort of the kind that I am aware of. Suggestions have to made previously to Josh to add some polling feature on his comment, but your effort made it first. I connected and wanted to taked the poll, but was put off by an issue I consider a matter of principle.

I am sunni/arab, but was never brought up to think along this line; above all this; I am a Secular Syrian. The idea of trying to deine participant along ethnic and religious lines seems ludicrous to me. I can understand the reasnoning behind it but I don't approve of it. The least you could have done is add a blank option. Sunni, Alawi, Shiite are not religions!!! I can understand that you were brought up in a country that lives along ethnic and religious differences and divisions. This country exported this type of thinking to Iraq and the results are not impressive. I personally find it insulting to use these notions in regards to my/your country. As much as i support the idea of a poll, but if start with this sectarian community assumptions then i would prefer not to take part in such a project, until you at least include an option of "Secular". Or to be more positive, let me suggest to add the option of "Does not Matter". This would help reveal the dose of secularism in the Syrian society.

 
At 2/19/2006 05:17:00 PM, Blogger George Ajjan said...

Dear Nicolas92200,

Thank you for your feedback.

You are correct, Sunni/Alawi/Shiite are not religions. They are religious sects, however, so as per your feedback I have changed the wording to "relgious sect by birth" in english. In arabic, it says, الطائفة الدينية.

There is an option for "other", so I suggest that you take the poll, select "other" and then put "secular" or "does not matter" in the description field. Others who have similar feelings to you have dealt with the issue in that way.

Regardless of how you or I feel about it, the fact is that sectarian issues do have a profound influence on political developments in the region. We can argue about the legacy of Ottoman millets, the careful political/military appointments in Syria in past years to reflect sectarian sensibilities, and the focus on sectarian politics that has characterized recent foreign intervention it the region. But the reality remains: analyzing Syria in 2006 without accounting for sectarian feelings would produce an incomplete study.

 
At 2/19/2006 06:14:00 PM, Blogger Atassi said...

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At 2/19/2006 06:46:00 PM, Blogger ugarit said...

Mr. Ajjan:

I would add judaism to the list of religions. There are tens of thousands of Syrian Jews.

 
At 2/19/2006 07:09:00 PM, Blogger George Ajjan said...

Thank you Ugarit for this suggestion. Also, thank you for posting your results publicly to show other bloggers where you stand. I hope others will follow your lead.

When constructing the poll, I gave lots of thought to the choices on the religious sect and ethnicity questions. Ultimately, I chose to limit the number of choices on both of these. Syria is quite diverse and a complete list can get to be cumbersome.

However, anyone whose ethnic or religious identification is not listed can easily select "other" and then specify. If I start to see many many replies that use the "other" category, indicating a substantial portion of the respondents belonging to that description, then I can always add that to the list. For example, I have had Syrians who identified themselves as Yazidi, Ismaili, etc. fill out the survey in such a way, even though they were not listed.

 
At 2/19/2006 08:19:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

For whatever it is worth, Set below is my results:

19% method of change
39% Form of Government
32% Economy
4% democratic elections
7% peace process

Though I did not take enough time to answer the questions, the results turned out to be pretty consistent with my general views. This is a testament to how good the survey has been constructed. It turns out that the survey concluded that I am strongly against an Islamic government and that just behind this issue is my desire for economic growth in Syria. I would like to congratulate Mr. Ajjan and encourage others to participate.

 
At 2/19/2006 09:02:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

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At 2/19/2006 09:12:00 PM, Blogger ugarit said...

The results of the poll which I took reflects some of my misplaced priorities. How could I not consider the economy to be the least important?

I really want a secular, multi-party, democratically elected form of government with a strong focus on economic growth while protecting the welfare of the less fortunate. al-Julan is less relevant.

 
At 2/19/2006 09:21:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Syria-news has reported that a major project worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” is going to be implemented along the Syrian coast. Given the short nature of the country’s coast, the project will attempt to emulate what Dubai did with Palm by building over the seabed. I find this interesting because I had mentioned the potentially attractive return on investments around the Syrian coast in my earlier discussion with idaf. This particular project will be around Tartous and will link the island of Arwad. If and when this regime gets its act together on the economic front, the potential of this country is enormous.

 
At 2/19/2006 10:15:00 PM, Blogger Joshua Landis said...

Here are my results. I took it during the testing period a while ago and did it for fun. George sent me these results.

27% Method of Change

14% Form of Government

32% Economy

18% Democratic Elections

9% Peace Process

So, we can see that the top issue for you is the economy, followed slightly behind by the method of change of the government.

Next is the demcracy issue, followed by the form of government. And in last place was the Golan Heights issue.

 
At 2/19/2006 10:50:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

I see one option only ,peacfull political change ,economic reform politecal reform secular goverment and the return of the Golan Hights.

 
At 2/19/2006 11:02:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Gee, we had 14 members take the poll anon. and approprietly the Golan return came numero UNO on all.

How can you have Democracy, less army, less defense, less security, and move on with progress if a state of war is infront of you. What about all those million refugee from Golan and Palestine. And the list go on. So please stop this brain washing that the Golan is not important. This scam is all too obvious.

 
At 2/19/2006 11:46:00 PM, Blogger Joshua Landis said...

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At 2/19/2006 11:55:00 PM, Blogger Abazayd said...

good game, Josh. Who do you think you are fooling with such a "poll"?

 
At 2/20/2006 02:15:00 AM, Blogger Alex said...

Very well designed survery. I think George really took his time in designing and fine-tuning it.

The only issue I still have with it is that in reality, all outcomes do not take place at the same time and therefore the current measured preferences change, and the relative significance of the different items change as one of them stops being a varyable. (think Maslow's hierarchy of needs) ... needs change as the most pressng ones materialize.

But that would be too complex to measure without paid participation.

 
At 2/20/2006 02:24:00 AM, Blogger DamasceneBlood said...

Here are my results:

31% Method of Change
10% Form of Government
49% Economy
8% Democratic Elections
3% Peace Process


My views are much more extreme with regards to the Economy. I believe that as long as we have a strong economy with little corruption, people won't care much about their government. Look at the US, one of the least politicized societies on the planet, and one of the best economically.

I find it interesting that most posters here have the peace process at the lower end of their concerns. For me, this is a good sign, as cleaning the house internally should be our number one priority.

 
At 2/20/2006 04:08:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Even though the score does not mirror my full view I still thought it was close. Though I feel the economy is much more important that what my score implies.

26% Method of Change
34% Form of Government
2% Economy
21% Democratic Elections
17% Peace Process


The number represents the percentage of your decision that depends upon each factor.

So, clearly, the most important issue for you is the form of government in Syria. You are strongly against an Islamic governement. Your top preference is for a secular government, followed closely by a sectarian one.

Second in importance to this is your interest in the method of change. You are strongly against a foreign invasion of Syria. You have a strong preference is for the current regime to stay in place, although there is some tolerance for a domestic uprising to force the regime to step down.

Next in importance to you was your interest in democratic elections, followed closely by your desire for Syria to regain the entire Golan Heights.

Economic issues had practically no meaning to you.

 
At 2/20/2006 07:20:00 AM, Blogger Joshua Landis said...

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At 2/20/2006 07:33:00 AM, Blogger Torstein said...

Hello from a daily reader of syriacomment.

My concern about the poll is from the academic perspective, considering Joshua is one also.
Although the survey can give some indications to people's views, they will not be representative AT ALL, no matter how many people take it.
The ones participating from Syria will be the most internationally minded who have access to the internet and know how to use a computer. This disqualifies major portions of the Syrian society. It will only give an impression of what the middle and upper classes and the young feel.

But do keep up the good work :)

 
At 2/20/2006 08:05:00 AM, Blogger George Ajjan said...

Dear "torstein",

Your concerns are well-noted and anticipated. As you see, in the beginning of the poll there are a number of demographic questions that ask about education level, monthly income, travel patterns, years lived outside of Syria, etc.

Of course, using the internet, we will get a disproportionate number of responses from internationally-minded and wealthy Syrians. However, when the results are presented I will of course analyze them in total, and then segment them by each of the demographic variables.

So we will have a general idea of how all the poll-takers feel, those living inside of Syria, those with lower incomes, males vs females, old vs young, etc.

I will also create a table showing the distribution of poll takers vs the expected distribution of all Syrians on each demographic variable. So we will be able to see where the data insufficiency lies, and hopefully take measures to correct.

 
At 2/20/2006 08:59:00 AM, Blogger pierre54 said...

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At 2/20/2006 09:16:00 AM, Blogger pierre54 said...

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At 2/20/2006 09:18:00 AM, Blogger pierre54 said...

asad familycracy is incompatible with reforms,bashar has just appointed mohamad naseef as adviser of faruq shara,he is one of the executers of Hama massacre.

 
At 2/20/2006 09:36:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Nassef is one of the toughest Mukhabarat characters brought in from the group of “old guard”. This is the group that Bashar was supposedly trying to get rid of. Sharaa’s job has just been reduced further. In reality it is going to be Sharaa reporting to Naseef and not the other way around as the official titles suggest. To Bashar and the regime, it has always been a race between security and survival on the one hand versus democracy and reforms on the other. Incredibly, people continue to dream that somehow he will choose the latter over the former.

 
At 2/20/2006 09:49:00 AM, Blogger shamee27 said...

George, I would like you to tell me how would an Islamic state broker a deal with the Jewish state. Syrians don't only care about Golan but also want the entire Palestine back. A real Islamic state would not accept anything less than that and unfortunately your poll did not cover this scenario at all.
To all those who are going to give me Saudia and Iran as an example, you know my answer. they are not Islamic states

 
At 2/20/2006 10:03:00 AM, Blogger George Ajjan said...

shamee27:

Thanks for your feedback. I wrestled with this issue at length. In fact, a very early version of syriapol had an attribute for Palestine, but based upon the replies of beta-testers, I decided to drop it.

I also solicited feedback on the islamic attitude toward the Golan. However, ultimately I decided: the fact that hard-line Islamic groups like Hamas for example have shown some willingness to negotiate with Israel suggests that this is not necessarily a contradiction, despite the rhetoric.

 
At 2/20/2006 11:27:00 AM, Blogger ugarit said...

shamee27:

What is an Islamic state? Who defines it? How is it defined? What version of Islam and what schools of thought would be considered Islamic enough? Will ijtihad be permitted? What versions of the Sharia are going to be used? etc.

 
At 2/20/2006 12:54:00 PM, Blogger Ausamaa said...

Dear Josh,

Great Job really. The choices are put forward in a very smart way to descern the important facts the organizer wants, however, I only have too comments that we need to take into account when analysing the results:

1) Most Syrians now are under a siege mentality due to the unfair pressure and threats from the US, and the dirty way some Lebanese politicians are shamelessly -as is hapitual to most of them- are behaving, so this will affect the way we react to everything.

2- The poll does not address the questions of what role Syrians see Syria playing in the Middle East which is essential to us Syrians who grew up and still see ourselves as an integral part of the ARAB NATION with a LEADING roll to play.

...and finally a small but Importantly, a technical remark. I just took the poll and noticed that even under the same Yahoo address I listed I was able to vote twice. Within 5 Minutes....! This will have a sure effect of duplication by overzealous parties. If was Harriri Jr.-for example- I would really consider paying someones to do so if I am going To the lengthes he is going to in his current assignment/vigil. So the poll taker should consider this fact seriously. If you notice, on the more realistic Al Jazeera.net voting corner,you can vote once from the same PC, but on the Elaph site you can vote from the same PC as many times as you like, so usually if the result does not appear in line with Elaph toewd line you see a jump in the pro or con figures on the last days of the poll in total contrast to the percentages appearing at the early and -most probably- true stage of the vote.

The least that can be done to limit the damage is to prevent the possibility of repeat vote from the same PC at least

Thank you and good luck

 
At 2/20/2006 01:26:00 PM, Blogger George Ajjan said...

Ausamaa:

Thanks for your advice.

As far as the question of Syria playing a leading role in the Arab nation, the original design of syriapol had a 6th attribute that pertained to this very issue. However, in the beta testing it just did not show up as being important enough, and furthermore it diverted focus from the other 5, more critical issues.

 
At 2/20/2006 07:40:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

HI George :I think the poll is a good way to examine the leaning of the Syrians ,the problem is that there were many variable which are picked without choice ,I think would be better if you leave to the Syrians to create their owen card by chosing one choice from each list,then calculate the pecentage of people for each choice of a catagory.By the way are you running for congress this year?.

 
At 2/20/2006 08:26:00 PM, Blogger ugarit said...

أول مركز لحقوق الإنسان في سوريا يفتتح غداً بتمويل أوروبي

الاخبار المحلية

تفتتح مفوضية الاتحاد الاوروبي في دمشق يوم غد أول مركز تدريبي لحقوق الانسان في سوريا بتمويل من الاتحاد الاوروبي بهدف دعم المجتمع السوري المدني وحماية حقوق الانسان والذي سيديره المحامي والناشط السوري في حقوق الانسان انور البني .

http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=22631

 
At 2/20/2006 08:27:00 PM, Blogger Atassi said...

Corrupted regime can’t be mended, clueless visionless leadership with head-on path to self-destruction, fearless thugs with extreme greed...

The Reading below may shad some light on the ruling few..
Written by Gassan Mofleh (غسان
المفلح

النظام السوري نموذجا.. لن أتحدث عن آليات الفساد فقد أسهب الكثيرون في الحديث عن الفساد في سوريا وأهم من كتب عن آليات الفساد أستاذنا الدكتور طيب تيزيني وسماها ثلاثية الفساد. ولن أقول أن الفساد في سوريا هو نظاما وليس ظاهرة، سلطة وليس ممارسة سلطوية جزئية بل هو: السلطة عينها في كل تفاصيل الحياة السورية. ويستطيع أي مراقب أو مواطن أن يتلمس الفساد في كل زاوية من زاويا المجتمع السوري / المعارضة ربما تكون أقل فسادا فهي ليست خارج المجتمع، والفساد هنا بات ينتج المجتمع فكيف لمجتمع ينتجه الفساد أو يعيد إنتاجه أن يكون أو أن يصبح مستقبلا؟ والمجتمع لم يصبح مجتمعا بعد من الزاوية المعيارية تاريخيا / كحال بقية المجتمعات الأخرى، مهدد في وحدته، مهدد في دماء أبنائه، وكأنه بات عصي عن التغيير ولسان حاله يقول: حاضر فاسد أفضل من مستقبل مجهول، كنت قد كتبت منذ أيام السجن الطويلة وتناقشت مع رفاقي في المعارضة: أنني أفضل تقسيم الدولة السورية إلى دويلات صغيرة إذا كان الخيار الآخر هو أن أرى نقطة دم واحدة من مواطن سوري، ربما يرى بعضهم أن في كلامي هذا نوع من المبالغة لكنها حقيقة تعتمل تحت رماد الفساد: دولة فاسدة لن تنتج إلا ثقافة فاسدة ومنها ثقافة الخوف وثقافة الخوف الذي تحدث عنها الدكتور عبد الرزاق عيد هي نفسها تتحول في غياب الدولة وأجهزتها إلى ثقافة عنف / خصوصا إذا كنا في مجتمع لازالت قيمه الطائفية والقومجية تهدد وحدته دوما، وهي المعيار الأكثر حضورا في الممارسة اليومية لأنها هي وجه آخر من وجوه هذا الفساد. والسؤال الذي حددنا موضوعنا على أساسه هو: في المجتمعات الحديثة ماهو الرابط بين السلطة أو النظام وبين الشعب أو المواطنين؟ من المفترض أنه رابط قانوني ودستوري وطوعي لهذا تنبث السلطة القانونية والدستورية في تفاصيل المجتمع، ما الذي بثته السلطة السورية في تفاصيل المجتمع السوري؟ سرقة المال العام، الولاء بكل تدرجاته السياسية والماقبل سياسية قبل القانون وفوق القانون، بث القيم الطائفية علنا وسرا، مجتمعا شهد حربا طائفية ضروسا حصدت من دماء أبنائه عشرات الألآف ومدن فقدت أحياء بكاملها/ حماه مثالا، ولكن هل تعلم هذا المجتمع من درسه الخاص الذي عاشه: منذ عام 1978 وحتى عام 1984؟ السلطة أو سلطة نظام الفساد لم تكن تريده ولا تريده أن يتعلم، فقيم التسامح لاتعلمها سلطة غاشمة، تماما كقيم النزاهة في العمل لاتعلمها سلطة لصوصية!! من مفارقة الجنون السوري أن الطبقة الجديدة التي يمكن لها أن تحمي وحدة المجتمع السوري هي طبقة أبناء الفاسدين من الذين وجدوا أنفسهم في الحياة وفي فمهم ملعقة من ذهب ودرسوا وتعلموا في أرقى الجامعات وأصبحوا رجال أعمال لهم أموال في كل بقاع الأرض..هؤلاء ربما نقول ربما مصالحهم تقتضي الحفاظ على وحدة المجتمع السوري من الانهيار!!! ذنبهم أم ليس ذنبهم في أنهم وجدوا أنفسهم في هذه الوضعية هذا ليس موضوع نقاشنا الآن!!!! رغم أهمية هذه الظاهرة في المجتمع السوري؟ ومن المفارقات اللطيفة في المجتمع السوري: أن الفقراء بقدر ما يتوقون للعدالة هم مادة سهلة للإنخراط فورا في عجلة الفساد والقيم المتخلفة من طائفية وعشائرية وحماسة ( وطنية وإسلاموية )..الخ وهذه تذكرني دوما بدفاع بعضهم عن أن السلطة استخدمت الطائفة من أجل مصالحها وليس هنالك مشروعا طائفيا؟! بحجة أن الفقراء كثر من الطائفة العلوية.. أظن أن الفقر هو المرتع الأخصب لنمو الولاء الديني والطائفي والعشائري وصولا إلى مظاهر الشعوذة..وهم الأكثر إمكانية لانتاج ثقافة العنف. وستكون قضية المشروع الطائفي مادة لدراسة مطولة أعمل عليها ولكنني أحاول الاستفادة من كل الآراء كلما كتبت شيئا ما عن هذا الأمر قبل أن تنجز نهائيا وفي كل مرة نحاول الكتابة أنا وكثيرون عن هذا الأمر نجد أنفسنا مضطرين كي نبرر كتابتنا: وأننا لانقصد جماهير الطائفة!! على الرغم أن هذا الأمر لا يجب أن يكون عليه كل هذه الغيتوية المقدسة!! والحديث يدور عن فاعل جماهيري طائفي ديني وسياسي وليس عن المادة الجماهيرية هذا أولا وثانيا في كل مرة علينا أن نوقع توقيعا نتعهد فيه أننا لسنا طائفيين كما وقعنا على عدم النضال ضد الرئيس الراحل حافظ الأسد أثناء لحظة خروجنا من السجن بعد إثني عشر عاما بالتمام والكمال وزيادة شهرا كي نوقع ووقعنا خوفا من أن يعيدوننا إلى سجن صيدنايا. لهذا الكتابة عن الطائفية في سوريا أمر معقد وشائك وله حساسيات كثيرة، ولكنني أرى أنه علينا البحث فيه والحوار فيه حتى نعرف بعضنا جيدا في المجتمع السوري الذي تربى على ثقافة الخوف. ولكن لايمكن لمشروع طائفي سواء كان علويا أو سنيا أو درزيا..الخ في سوريا إلا وسيكون مشروعا فاسدا. مثالا صغيرا على الفساد المبرمج: على مدار خمس وعشرون عاما الرئيس الراحل يتصرف بمطلق الحرية وسرا بميزانية النفط السوري ولا أحد من الشعب السوري يحق له أن يسأل عن النفط مطلقا وأظن أن أستاذي الدكتور عارف دليلة موجود في السجن لتعرضه لهذه القضية كسبب من أسباب سجنه، ومكتب الحبوب في سوريا يتسلمه أيضا بقرار رئاسي طبعا مسؤول من الطائفة، ومكتب القطن في سوريا كذلك الحال..... ماذا بقي من الاقتصاد السوري أرجو أن يقول لي أحدا ماذا بقي من هذا الاقتصاد..؟ لن أتحدث عن الجيش والمخابرات..الخ وبين فساد كلية النظام بكل الفاعلين فيه ومن كل طوائف المجتمع وبين البؤرة التي تسيطر على شبكة الفساد والاقتصاد كله: هنالك فارق مهم / مثال مصطفى طلاس لم يكن يتسلم أية مهام نوعية سوى أنه واجهة في وزارة الدفاع على مدار ثلاثة عقود ونيف ومع ذلك كان سيد من فسد وأفسد.. ولايعني هذا الأمر أن المشروع الطائفي هو تخوين للطائفة أو هو تخوين لفقراءها بل هو إدانة واضحة ومباشرة للنظام الفاسد من جهة ومعرفة حقيقية للواقع الذي وصل إليه المجتمع السوري لكي يجعل صحيفة كا( الفيغاروالفرنسية ) تكتب بالبنط العريض / العلويون يخافون من ضياع سلطتهم. هذا بالضبط هو وجها من وجوه هذا النظام الفاسد وعلى ذلك النموذج السوري في الفساد هو نموذج خاص وعلينا قراءته متلبسا في خصوصيته السلطوية والتاريخية، والابتعاد قدر الإمكان عن المصطلح الجاهز.. كمصطلح النظام الشمولي مثلا. كما قلت سابقا لدينا في المجتمع السوري لغمان يجب التعامل معهما بشفافية وحوار دائم وحذر وهما: الملف الطائفي والقضية الكردية..وللحديث بقايا..! غسان المفلح

 
At 2/20/2006 09:11:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Greed has no bounds. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. In other words, a person’s sense of morality lessens as his power increases. Sadly, this is the story of modern Syria. No checks or balances. Uncontested one man/family/party rule. Were mother Teresa to lead a nation with such absolute powers, she will, sooner or later, be corrupted. I am afraid that reforming a system like this is nearly impossible. It is simply naïve to expect a system like the one in Syria to turn around if left to its own devices. Better laws will be passed. Some reforms can be delivered. But such steps will always feel too little and too late. The cancer of corruption, cronyism, and lawlessness has eaten away at this country. Idaf once referred to it as a castle. I see it as a termite-infested structure whose foundations have been weakened to the point of no return. In closing, no amount of reforms can turn this fast sinking country around. Why? This regime will always value security and survival over democracy and higher standards of living for its people. If anything, their current predicament forces them further into the former choice. Why people continue to expect imminent and meaningful reforms is truly a puzzle to me.

 
At 2/20/2006 09:48:00 PM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

I austria David Irving get three years prison time for expressing his opinion, where is the freedom of speach?

 
At 2/20/2006 09:53:00 PM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

In Syria; we say dont cut the tail of snake and let it go, if you are serious,cut the head of the snake, the regime must go.

 
At 2/20/2006 10:26:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Ehsani ,you keep talking about the coruption in Syria forgrtting what is happening with Katrena releief,coruption is not limited to Syria ,yes politecal reform is not a priority for the Syrian govorment for fear of violence but i think syria is very seriuse about economic reform and if you open your mind and stop thinking that the glass is half empty you will see the steps that Syria is taking to implement free market economy by lifting price control on essentials free TV stations private construction companies steps that were not expected if it was for Syria,s intention to improve the standard of living of the Syrian people.so let us look at the good steps and help Syria to move faster .they might have started thinking about investing in the syrian coast after your suggestion ,may be they are learning from you more than you think.keep the sugestions coming.

 
At 2/20/2006 10:58:00 PM, Blogger George Ajjan said...

Thanks once again to all of those who participated in syriapol thus far, and to Joshua for offering his space to the project. The publicity from syriacomment was the first step and generated lots of replies and valuable data, mostly from english-speaking Syrian expats. Let's encourage the traffic to continue to flow through. I also appreciate the polite and constuctive feedback provided here and elsewhere by concerned Syrians.

The major task now is promoting the project to arabic speakers inside of the Syrian Arab Republic. It is their opinions and preferences which matter most.

It has been wonderful and uplifting to receive so much positive feedback from Syrians all over the world, all engaged in their future, all appreciative for the opportunity to express their views, wherever they lie on the spectrum.

The diversity, complexity, and passion of the results of the poll takers is quite humbling. The Syrian people have a lot to say, and we can only hope that the decision makers in the regime, the opposition, etc., once enough results are collected to publish, will be listening.

يا حبيبي يا سوريين

- George Ajjan (جورج عجّان)

 
At 2/20/2006 11:17:00 PM, Blogger Alawites for Syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2/21/2006 01:21:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"can we trust these informations ?can they realy be confidential?, certainly it can be sold to another party , like cia or syrian itelligence for money, who monitor the accuracy of the results?, or could somebody manipulate these informations?,like the election results in Iraq, can someone who lies and say he is syrian vote there?, even that he is not honest, such as many ,who participate in your syiacomment, they are jews or lebanese, or so.. they claim syrian irigin."

I am Arab therefore paranoid.

 
At 2/21/2006 01:24:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"Ehsani ,you keep talking about the coruption in Syria forgrtting what is happening with Katrena releief,coruption is not limited to Syria ,yes politecal reform is not a priority for the Syrian govorment for fear of violence but i think syria is very seriuse about economic reform and if you open your mind and stop thinking that the glass is half empty you will see the steps that Syria is taking to implement free market economy by lifting price control on essentials free TV stations private construction companies steps that were not expected if it was for Syria,s intention to improve the standard of living of the Syrian people.so let us look at the good steps and help Syria to move faster .they might have started thinking about investing in the syrian coast after your suggestion ,may be they are learning from you more than you think.keep the sugestions coming. "

Yes Ehsani, Syria is a paradise, stopy denying it.

 
At 2/21/2006 07:52:00 AM, Blogger norman said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2/21/2006 09:55:00 AM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

Joshua said : " His effort has not been sponsored, paid for, encouraged, shaped, or influenced by any government or intelligence agency - CIA, Mossad, Mukhabarat, MI6, French Foreign Legion, Danish Muhammad loving league, KGB, or al-Qa’ida cell. I urge you all to take it."


Mr. Landis: There is no need for any of the above agencies to push for this, and it is enough that you are doing so to discredit this whole thing.

 
At 2/21/2006 10:11:00 AM, Blogger VIVA LIBAN said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2/21/2006 12:53:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Joshua ,it was good you removed my note ,it was a reactionary one ,thanks again for hosting this site.

 
At 2/21/2006 01:42:00 PM, Blogger Atassi said...

=============================
Thank you for your participation in syriapol. Here are your results.

48% Method of Change
28% Form of Government
17% Economy
3% Democratic Elections
3% Peace Process


The number represents the percentage of your decision that depends upon each factor.

The most important issue for you is the method of change of government in Syria. You are strongly against a foreign invasion of Syria, and also strongly against the current regime. You would most prefer a domestic uprising that forces the regime to step down.

After that is your interest in the form of government in Syria. You favor a sectarian government, with some preference for a secular form and no interest at all in an islamic government.

Next was your desire for economic growth in Syria.

Democratic parliamentary elections and Golan Heights were practically meaningless to you

 
At 2/21/2006 01:49:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Here is my results Thank you for your participation in syriapol. Here are your results.

42% Method of Change
29% Form of Government
13% Economy
0% Democratic Elections
17% Peace Process


The number represents the percentage of your decision that depends upon each factor.

The most important issue for you is the method of change of government in Syria. You are against a foreign invasion of Syria and have some desire for a domestic uprising. You most prefer for the current regime to stay in power.

Next is the form of government in Syria. You are against an islamic government. You most prefer a secular government, with some tolerance for a sectarian government.

After that is your desire for Syria to regain the entire Golan Heights.

After that was your desire for economic growth.

Democratic multi-party parliamentary elections had zero meaning to you.

y result

 
At 2/21/2006 03:25:00 PM, Blogger Atassi said...

I was reading through the "The United States and Reform in Syria By Joshua Landis March 2004" I couldn't help but to ask some questions, If Mr Landis claims and I believe the regime has been sending the same indications to the world:
" that if the Assad regime fail, Moslem brotherhood will be next in-line to rule Syria". Can you please elaborate if this case still true now, Your theory must be based on facts, events and assumptions, what are they? I even heard and argument that if the governments hold a free election in Syria now, 90% of the Syrians would elect the Moslem brotherhood!! If that is true, Do you consider the regime legitimate since it is supported by ONLY 10% of the population?


http://www.ou.edu/ssa/US_Syrian_Reform.htm

 
At 2/21/2006 03:54:00 PM, Blogger George Ajjan said...

A fascinating reply that I did not anticipate appeared on the syriapol blog from a poll-taker, concerning the economic attribute of the poll. I'd particularly like to hear EHSANI or Idaf's thoughts on this, given their interest and knowledge of Syrian economic matters, especially pertaining to foreign investment.

Anonymous said...
"You made me decide negatively on all the cards because in every card you included "attratcting foreign investment" as an issue...whereas I am STRONGLY against this sort of economic policy, which essentially subordinates the country's laws to private investment, especially foreign investment, and thus would involve the imposition of unfair labour laws, environmental laws, and would benefit a small sector of the population. What about those of us who envision economic development as involving very strong labour laws, mass participation in labour unions and syndicates, developing local industry and maintaining food self-sufficiency (rather than have an export-oriented economy which would produce food at low cost for foreigners, while the population plunges into starvation...just look at the results of "foreign investment" and neoliberal economic policies and the horrible affects they've had in Latin America)...you know there's a LARGE sector of Syrians who essentially wanna tell foreign investors to "go to hell", and indeed will be against private investment of any sort, preferring much more the democratization of capital in the country (not to say that they prefer a centrally-controlled state to have monopoly on capital, but would rather prefer something similar to the direction Venezuela is taking under president CHAVEZ, with democratic, popular organizations essentially wanting much more of a grassroots democracy with much more direct popular control over resources rather than private or state control). Many Syrians would probably tell you that the focus should be on domestic economic policies that WILL MOST DEFINITELY HURT "foreign investment" and not attract any of it. Therefore while i am interested in a secular democracy not imposed through foreign invasion but through popular struggle, I find myself not being able to rate any of the cards in a positive way due to the limitations you have imposed on economic policies. Everytime I read the words "improve economy through foreign investment", I got an immediate allergy and negative reaction, because these policies just don't work! Other than that i'm really interested in this project because I'm very interested in public opinion in Syria, given that we've never had any precise picture of it, just feelers here and there. That's my 2 cents! Thanks."

 
At 2/21/2006 05:38:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

I do want to comment on this. I will post my rebuttal soon as I am currently short on time. I will just say that I totally disagree with the above economic prescription for Syria. I promise to elaborate why soon.

 
At 2/21/2006 07:25:00 PM, Blogger DamasceneBlood said...

Syria has resources, mainly agricultural and mineral, with little to offer in manufactured goods to ouside markets. How come, when we have thousands of factories humming in Syria? simple, our QA is severely lacking, not to mention quality material, quality labor, or quality logistics.

In other words, Syria is way behind the curve when it comes to manufacturing, so that's out (heck, even the US is becoming out of curve with Asia very fast).

Next, we have services: The average Syrian speaks horrible English, and has very little corporate experience. Call centers? India's already got'em, Software? possible, but Egypt and Lebanon are already doing it for cheap, not to mention India. In other words, services doesn't seem very good in revitalizing our economy.

Next we have Toursim, I think Syria could excel here given enough $$$ and the creation of some spectacular projects on the Syrian coastline. This is already in progress and is powered mainly by foreign investors (Gulf).

I believe the Europeans want to make countries like Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and other Oil-poor ME countries into their industrial back alleys: they will allow them to take on the highly polluting, 'dirty' industries that are not welcome in Europe, such as Dyes, Pesticides, and Fertilizers.

If Syria opens its economy up, most local factories/brands will fail to compete and will go bankrupt. Syrians will end up becoming happy employees at McDonald's serving Happy Meals. Is this the path we want to take???

Look at places like Lebanon and Jordan, where the countries are awash in foreign investments. Last time I checked, there was still massive unemployment and low wages in both places. Frankly, I don't think foreign investment is the magic bullet that will save the Syrian economy, and I am not really sure what will.

 
At 2/21/2006 08:35:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Syria has an incredible potential in Agri-industry. It can be larger than California 20 bilion Agre-Export market. It is way behind on all other levels and can never catch up. Impossible. SSPRS has extensive plans Fo Syria's Agree sector. Providing market ready ideas to supply the products at the highest quality globally.

 
At 2/21/2006 09:06:00 PM, Blogger ugarit said...

Dear George Ajjan:

The anonymous poster is absolutely correct. "attracting foreign investment" can be quite destructive to a nation. It all depends on what it means. Only "developed" countries can protect themselves from destructive "foreign investment". Neo-Liberal economics is quite dangerous for the majority. The social market economy is the better approach. It's better for the majority to have a mixed economy. We should'nt "worship" "free" markets. The objective, beyond capital, of foreign and even local investments must quantified.

I recommend that everyone read

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

 
At 2/21/2006 09:35:00 PM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

some call me paranoid, yes , and I am proud to be paranoid, much better than to be naaive and gullable, the whole purpose of this poll is to reach a conclusion that it is OK to make peace with Isreal and allow Isreal to keep some of the Golan Heights, now George you are exposed, most of the Syrians will never accept Isreal , let alone allow Isreal to keep some of Golan. George Ajjan, let us know your background and your education,and if you have a certificate in statistics and polling, and let me know John Zogby opinion of your work.
I believ it would have been better if you ask each question,seperately and gave it a grade.

 
At 2/21/2006 09:56:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Forign investment is not somthing to worry about as they bring investment money and know how which Syria lacks that will provide training to syrians and other opportionities about labor unions they proved in the US to be drag to the economy ,the two major car company in the US are on the verge of banckrupsy because of the unions yhey have,after all companies which take care of their employees do not need unions,and american laws which the american unions helped start are reality and no need for more laws ,the envirment can be protected by applying the same laws that they have in the US or the EU ,about ownership of companies some idustries should propably be govorment controlled like the mail and the railroads and the roads the airports ,but when you think about any company in the US they are owned more by the american people via stock ownership than any syrian govorment controlled Syrian company,and when you look at the free market economy of the US and compare that to the economy of the europian countris like France and the scandenevian countries you find that the US has less unemployment and more opportionaty to succeed .that is why syria should learn from the US not europ , Japan or China.

 
At 2/21/2006 10:58:00 PM, Blogger George Ajjan said...

MajedKhaldoon,

Because of the sensitivity and emotional nature of the issues, direct questions would lead to biases. That is why scenarios are used.

You are certainly entitled to your beliefs (paranoid or not) about the uses of the survey. Fortunately, hundreds of other Syrians have participated in the survey in good faith, and inshallah will continue to do so.

 
At 2/22/2006 12:20:00 AM, Blogger annie said...

"This post has been removed by a blog administrator."

Thanks Josh for that; I used to print your column and its comments and it was a pity to use paper and ink for some of the useless comments

 
At 2/22/2006 12:27:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

SRP is back! I can't say that I missed you though.

SRP says that Syria could beat California, the richest (GDP 1.4 trillion) and the most populated American state. I don't know if he's aware that 20 billions is approximately 100% of Syria's GDP.

But I guess that your friend Bashar is going to fix all that, isn't he?

 
At 2/22/2006 06:04:00 AM, Blogger ugarit said...

Any economic reform and investments in Syria should have the following constraints to protect syrians:

Free to unionize and strike
Living wage
National Health care
K-12+4 free education (preserve that)
X number of weeks of vacation

If market is given these constraints the majority of Syrians would be protected yet be able to receive some of the rewards of invesments. However, if Syria gets advice from the IMF or the World Bank most of these would be destroyed.

 
At 2/22/2006 06:04:00 AM, Blogger ugarit said...

Forgot to mention retirement plan

 
At 2/22/2006 09:45:00 AM, Blogger Atassi said...

Syria witnesses Islamist revival
By Kim Ghattas,
BBC News, Damascus
849 words
22 February 2006
06:05
BBC News Online
English
(c) BBC News Limited 2006. Supplied via BBC Worldwide and not available for redistribution. This and other BBC News material is available free to the British TV licence fee payers at http://news.bbc.co.uk
For centuries, the traditional sound of Islam coming from the northern Syrian town of Aleppo, has been the rhythmical chanting of the word "Allah", as men young and old rock back and forth in a small room in the back of a house.

Beating their drums, chanting faster and faster, the men hope to achieve a trance that will bring them closer to God in the traditions of the mystical or Sufi Islam.

The musical capital of the Arab world in many ways, Aleppo's song and dance have been heavily influenced by Sufism.

But today, it is mostly a very austere call to prayer that can be heard around the city as a growing number of women adopt the full Islamic cover, hiding their hands and faces behind back cloth.

Religion is making a comeback in Syria, where people feel the state's socialist and pan-Arab ideologies have failed for the last four decades.

"We have a phenomenon of radicalisation taking place in schools and university," said Salam Kawakibi, a political analyst in Aleppo.

Mr Kawakibi said he was shocked when he was recently asked to get out of a city cab because the driver could smell he had a bottle of arak, a local aniseed sprit, with him; alcohol is banned by Islam.

"The danger is the influence of Salafism and Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia, because all the Syrians who work there, come back with new practices which they impose on their families and entourage," Mr Kawakibi said.

Co-opting Islam

After ruthlessly crushing a Muslim Brotherhood rebellion in 1982, the Syrian government has found it is unable to contain the rise of religion.

So instead, the authorities have decided to go with the trend and co-opt the symbols of Islam.

"After the clashes of 1980, the state tried to create an official Islam. They encouraged the building of mosques and the creation of religious schools. They think it is a way to control society," Mr Kawakibi said.

"Before, government officials started their speeches with secular phrases, now they start with 'Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim'," the Arabic for, "In the name of God, most gracious, most merciful".

Syria's staunchly secular Baath party encouraged people to go to the mosque in order to keep them away from politics.

The authorities are now warning the international community that if the US wanted to effect regime change in Syria as it did in Iraq, it would bring radical Islamists to power; Islamists in a way created by the state itself.

Strategy backfires

At the start of the war in Iraq, Syria actively encouraged Arab fighters to join battle with the Americans hoping that an insurgency next door would keep Washington busy and unable to turn its sights on Damascus.

But US pressure, as well as the presence thousands of American troops just across the border in Iraq, eventually played a part in convincing Syria to crack down on the cross-border flow of insurgents.

According to several analysts, Syria had also realised its strategy could backfire.

"Initially they thought they thought they were getting rid of the extremist elements in Syrian society by sending them to die in Iraq," said Marwan Qabalan, a Syrian political analyst. "It was a clever strategy - you want to undertake jihad, go do it somewhere else."

But according to Mr Qabalan, memories of Afghanistan were quick to haunt the authorities.

Out of control

Thousands of Arab men from around the region joined the anti-Soviet front in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

After the fighting was over, the Afghan Arabs, as they became known, started returning home with new, deadly skills, posing a threat to their own governments and beyond.

"These people, who have been trained in Iraq, are now coming back to Syria and could use their tactics against a new enemy - possibly the state," Mr Qabalan said.

It is difficult to estimate how many Syrians went to Iraq to fight and how many have returned, but dozens of men who did have reportedly been arrested or are under close surveillance.

But at some point, a threat to the state could come not only from the radical fringes but also from the ordinary Syrians who want to see Islam play a role in political life.

Muhammad Habash, the only Islamist MP in the Syrian parliament, says the Baath party has not allowed the emergence of any real Islamist leaders, but pressure is growing.

"Personally, I don't see the need for Islamist parties and I don't think there will be an Islamic state in Syria if there is full democracy," Mr Habash said.

"But conservative Islamists have the right to ask for Islamist parties."

And while the Syrian government thinks it can maintain control over the increasing religious trend, many analysts now believe the Islamists could outsmart the state.

After decades of secular rule, religion is making a comeback; President Assad's government has co-opted Islam; Muslim activists burned the Danish embassy in Damascus

 
At 2/22/2006 10:43:00 AM, Blogger O.D.M said...

How about a simpler poll?

Who wants to see an end either to Bashar or to his Lisp?

99.9993333%

 
At 2/22/2006 01:29:00 PM, Blogger Ausamaa said...

Just small comment on the order of prioreties that has appeared so far; if the issue of the return of the Golan is showing low score, my beliefe it is so due to two facts;

1) ALL or Most Syrians believe that the return of the Golan, be it by peace or by other means, is an eventuality a matter of time only, so they do not need to debate it. .and,
2) The problems and issues raised by CURRENT challanges dectate the CURRENT Prioreties and does not take away from the strategic goals.

So I do not believe that it affects the importance of the Golan issue to the Syrian psych at all.

 
At 2/22/2006 03:12:00 PM, Blogger gangof2006 said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2/22/2006 03:14:00 PM, Blogger Nafdik said...

George,

Regarding the foreign investment question. Even though I am totally for an open economy and think it is the only way forward, I think the poster has a valid point.

If your intent is to measure Syrian support for a liberal economic model then keep the wording as is. If on the other hand you want to measure whether economic improvement is a priority for the survey taker then the comments point that you should re-word the question to make more neutral and focus on results such as unemployment rate, standard of living and reduction of poverty, rather than means such as foreign investment.

Great survey, all the best in making as many Syrians as possible take it.

 

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