Though fighting within Syria has escalated in recent months, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was already widely unpopular in neighboring countries this spring, according to surveys conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

The vast majority of Jordanians, Egyptians, Tunisians and Turks said in March and April that they would like to see Assad step down. In Lebanon, however, views differed sharply along sectarian lines, with Shia Muslims overwhelmingly expressing support for the Assad regime.

Even though many would like to see Assad out of office, there has been no consensus on taking action to dislodge him from power. There was limited support for tougher international economic sanctions or Arab military intervention, and very little support for Western military action.

In Jordon (89%), Egypt (89%) and Tunisia (88%), about nine-in-ten said Assad should step down, while two-thirds (67%) agreed in Turkey. Views in Lebanon reflected sectarian divisions: 80% of Sunnis and 67% of Christians wanted Syria’s autocratic ruler to leave office, compared with just 3% of Shia Muslims. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.