Americans concerned about Syria fear ISIS will reemerge
Three-quarters of Americans are concerned about the situation in Syria and many see a reemergence of ISIS as likely following recent changes in US policy, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.
But the country is divided over how to proceed. Just over half (51%) think the US has a responsibility to remain involved in the ongoing conflict in Syria, while 43% do not. The poll finds a sharp partisan divide over whether America has a responsibility to remain involved in the conflict there: 72% of Democrats say yes, while 65% of Republicans say no.
Overall, three-quarters of the country (75%) is concerned about the situation in Syria, including 43% who are very concerned. Concern, too, is highly divided along partisan lines — 65% of Democrats say they’re very concerned. Less than half of independents (40%) and about a quarter (24%) of Republicans feel the same
President Donald Trump announced a withdrawal of all troops from Syria last week, but he reversed course on Wednesday, saying a “small number” will remain. The poll was conducted after the decision to remove them, but before he said some could stay.
Around two-in-five (42%) Americans approved of Trump’s decision to withdraw all US troops from Syria, while half (50%) disapproved. Three-quarters of Republicans approved, while majorities of Democrats (79%) and independents (51%) disapproved.
Many say that the change in US policy in Syria will likely result in a reemergence of ISIS — 69% say it’s likely, 23% not so likely. Democrats (85%) and those who disapprove of Trump’s performance as President (80%) are most likely to be say there will be a resurgence of ISIS, but that is also the view among a majority of Republicans (56%) and those who approve of Trump’s job performance (54%).
A plurality think the US hasn’t been tough enough on Turkey in response to its military action in Syria, which targeted America’s former Kurdish allies. Overall, 42% feel the response has not been tough enough, while 33% think the response has been about right and 8% say it has been too tough.
More broadly, Trump’s ratings for handling his job as the commander in chief — 40% approve and 57% disapprove — are around the same as his overall approval numbers. But there has been a 9-point increase in the share who disapprove of his work as commander in chief, driven by a 16-point increase in disapproval among independents and a 12-point increase in disapproval among Democrats.
Three-in-ten (31%) say leaders from other countries have respect for Trump, 61% that they don’t. That’s an improvement for Trump compared with June of last year, when just 26% said Trump is respected by foreign leaders shortly after his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. That shift comes mostly from Republicans. Last year, 59% said the President was respected by other world leaders, 76% say so now.
Despite the improvement, perceptions of whether Trump is respected by other world leaders remain worse than they ever were for former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, or Bill Clinton. The smallest share to say so about Obama in CNN polling was 39% in March 2014, it was 35% for George W. Bush in February 2005, and 41% for Clinton in September 1994.
The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS from October 17 through 20 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.