Charney Research conducted 40 in-depth interviews in August–October 2014 on issues related to the conflict in Syria and local-level initiatives to promote peace, reconciliation, and transitional justice for the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC). This was the second phase of our Syrian qualitative research. (The first phase was conducted a year earlier, in August and September 2013.)
Craig Charney and Christine Quirk conducted field training of the research firm’s field supervisors in August 2014 in Istanbul. During this training we refined the discussion guide, explained strategies for obtaining cooperation, discussed potential obstacles and solutions, and conducted practice interviews to ensure correct administration of the questionnaire. The field supervisors, in turn, trained and briefed local staff for the study. We are impressed by and deeply grateful for their commitment and courage, without which we could not have conducted the research.
The objective of this study was to ensure that all the main demographic and confessional groups, and people in various government- and opposition-held locales, including in the two largest cities, were included in the study. We set quotas for each region and demographic, and used a modified snowball sampling technique to select respondents. Under this method, which is commonly used when interviewing difficult to access populations, respondents who met the quota criteria were referred by acquaintances of local interviewers and/or selected on the basis of referrals from study participants. (Interviewers could not interview their own acquaintances, however.) Such a sample is not statistically representative of the Syrian population; however, statistical descriptions are not required for qualitative research of this type. We chose this method, rather than a larger-scale quantitative poll — which is not feasible under current Syrian conditions — to enable us to explore similarities and differences in respondents’ opinions and probe and contrast their reactions to ideas and possibilities in depth.
A first round of interviews took place between August 21 and September 9, 2014. The interviews were roughly half an hour in length, in Arabic, and were recorded live. They were transcribed in Arabic, then translated into English by the research firm. Interviews were conducted in person by the local research firm’s Syria-based interviewers, all of whom were native Arabic-speaking Syrians.
The interviews were conducted in the following areas: four each in Aleppo, Raqqah, Hama, Damascus, Deir al-Zor, Hasakah, Tartous, Homs, and two each among refugees in Turkey and Jordan. Six were conducted among internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Syria. Sixteen interviews were conducted among pro-regime respondents and 24 among opponents. Four respondents were Christian, six were Alawi, four were Kurds and 26 were Sunni Arabs. The interview pool included 20 men and 20 women.
From the initial round of 40 interviews, Charney Research rejected 20 due to quality control issues. They were replaced by the results of a second round of interviews between October 21 and 31, 2014, done by different interviewers. They were conducted in the following areas: four each in Deir al-Zor, Hasakah and Raqqah, three each in Aleppo and Tartous, and two in Hama. After a careful quality control evaluation, we concluded these interviews were satisfactory.
Since this is a qualitative research report, it does not use numbers to describe the distribution of opinions. Nor does it speak of “the majority” or “the minority.” Rather, we use qualitative descriptors when referring to proportions within the interview pool that hold a view or express a position. The definitions for these terms are as follows:
“All” — Every respondent in a group
“Almost All”— More than eight-in-ten respondents
“Most”— Between six and eight-in-ten respondents
“Divided”— Between four and six-in-ten respondents
“Many”— Between three and four-in-ten respondents
“Some”— Between two and three-in-ten respondents
“Few”— Less than two-in-ten respondents
“None”— Zero-in-ten respondents
The table below lists the 40 interviews that passed Charney Research’s quality control standards.
|AGE||CONFESSION||EDUCATION COMPLETED||REGIME STANCE|
|29||Homs||Male||IDP||29||Christian||Mobile Phone Maintenance||Anti|
|47||Deir al-Zor||Male||–||29||Sunni||Free Trader||Anti|
|52||Raqqah||Male||–||29||Sunni||Owner of Clothing Store||Pro|
|53||Raqqah||Male||–||40||Sunni||Owner of Fabric, Clothing Store||Anti|
- None of the areas in Deir al-Zor where respondents were located were under ISIS control at the time of the interviews. ↵