Most Saudis reject Daesh: Think tank

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A whopping 92 percent of Saudis reject the Daesh terrorist group according to new research conducted by an American think tank.

The study was conducted by the Washington Institute’s Fikra Forum, an online blog in Arabic and English focusing on Middle East issues. One thousand people, half below 35, were polled, according to a report in a local publication.

David Pollock, a senior fellow of the Washington Institute who conducted the research, said that 28 percent of the respondents have secondary school education and degrees. The survey was conducted across the Kingdom in September.

He said the Saudis polled described Daesh as one of the world’s worst organizations. Breaking down the results, 78 percent were “very negative” about the organization, while 14 percent were “negative to some extent.”

The Washington Institute has said the outcome of the survey was similar to that of last year. In addition, Saudis surveyed also viewed other foreign nations unfavorably, with 85 percent having negative views about Russia because of the country’s “current policies.”

Ninety-one percent of Saudis polled were “very negative” about Iran, while 42 percent were “negative to some extent” about that nation’s policies. Just 12 percent expect relations between Iran and the Arab world to improve in the next few years.

The opinions about Iran’s nuclear agreement had changed unexpectedly with 42 percent believing it was a bad deal and 39 percent regarding it as good on some levels, said Pollock.

Eighty-five percent of Saudis view Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria negatively, and 84 percent had the same views of Hezbollah in Lebanon. However, one third of Saudis polled support the Syrian opposition, while just 4 percent believe the Kingdom should launch direct military intervention in Syria.

Among other Islamic organizations, a surprising 53 percent of Saudis support Hamas and 41 percent back the Palestinian Authority. Similarly, 65 percent of Saudis do not support the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in the Kingdom and is on Riyadh’s list of terrorist organizations.

However, only 42 percent are “very negative” about China and France, with 60 “negative to some extent” about these two nations, according to the report.

The Washington Institute’s Project Fikra “is a multiyear program of research, publication, and network-building designed to generate policy ideas for promoting positive change and countering the spread of extremism in the Middle East,” according to the body’s website.

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