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Most young Arabs reject Islamic State, think ‘caliphate’ will fail

A vast majority of young Arabs is increasingly rejecting the Islamic State (IS) extremist group and believes it will fail to establish a caliphate, a poll has found.


According to the 2016 Arab Youth Survey, only 13 percent of Arab youths said they could imagine themselves supporting IS even if it did not use much violence, down from 19 percent last year, while 50 percent saw it as the biggest problem facing the Middle East, up from 37 percent last year, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.

The Arab Youth Survey was based on 3,500 interviews across a range of issues with respondents aged 18 to 24.

However, concern is mounting across the region as a chronic lack of jobs and opportunities were cited as the principal factor feeding terrorist recruitment.

In eight of the 16 countries surveyed, employment problems were a bigger pull factor for IS than extreme religious views.

In 2016, only 36 percent of young people said they felt the Arab world was in better shape following the Arab Spring upheaval, down from 72 percent in 2012, the poll said.

The majority (53 percent) agreed that maintaining stability was more important than promoting democracy (28 percent). In 2011, 92 percent of Arab youth said “living in a democracy” was their most cherished wish.

It found that 47 percent believed Sunni-Shia relations were deteriorating and 52 percent felt religion played too big a role in a region dominated by Saudi Arabia and Iran – respective cheerleaders for each sect and on opposite sides of the wars in Syria and Yemen.

Overall, 39 percent of Arab youth viewed the bloody conflict in Syria as a proxy war fought by regional and global powers, 29 percent saw it as a revolution against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and 22 percent believed it was a civil war among Syrians.

The Arab Youth Survey 2016 is carried out by international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland for ABurson-Marsteller. Respondents are from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen.

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