Nevertheless, despite their fear of extremism spreading and their distaste for Assad, Middle Eastern publics voice no support for aiding those attempting to oust the Assad government. People in the region have seen the results of Western intervention in Iraq. And they may not relish the idea of other Arab states acquiring a taste for interfering in the domestic affairs of their neighbors. There was little support for aid to anti-government forces battling the Damascus regime in 2013, and there is even less backing in 2014.
In most countries in the region, at least two-thirds of respondents oppose outside military aid, and in some places opposition tops 75%:
This is consistent with earlier polling on military intervention in Syria and Libya, and it is similar to other polls on the question of arming the opposition. In fact, as the image above shows, opposition to outside military aid for Syrian rebels has significantly increased in the last year. Note that this includes opposition to military aid being provided by other Arab governments. While intervention in these conflicts has sometimes been sold as an opportunity to change the way that the U.S. is perceived in the region, or as a way to get the U.S. on the “right side of history,” the vast majority of people in the surrounding countries naturally view any interference in the affairs of these countries with great suspicion and disfavor. No matter what side the U.S. takes or claims to be taking, our government’s interference is sure to be resented, and that will in turn add to the considerable hostility to the U.S. that already exists. Until Washington realizes that the U.S. is wrong to interfere on any side, even when it thinks that it is taking the “popular” side, our policies will continue to make more enemies that we would likely not have otherwise.