The will of the people

July 29, 2006

In News

Opinions diverge on sectarian lines – but not completely

Editor’s note: In an attempt to gauge the mood of the country after nearly two weeks of Israel’s latest assault on Lebanon, the Beirut Center for Research and Information queried 800 citizens regarding Hizbullah’s July 12 capture of two Israeli soldiers, the resistance’s military operations against Israel and the American position on the crisis. Respondents were also asked to assess the
Lebanese government’s performance on the diplomatic front and its handling of
relief efforts. This survey was conducted by Lebanese statistician Abdo Saad
between July 24 and July 26 according to confessional and regional
distribution, including the opinion of the displaced in the regions of

The survey consisted of direct questions concerning respondents’ position
regarding Hizbullah’s role in the conflict.

The answers to the first question showed a relatively high level of support for
Hizbullah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers, contrasting the positions of some
local political forces’ condemnation of the operation. Such support was based
on a belief that Israel and the US intended to implement UN Security Council
Resolution 1559 by force, regardless of whether Hizbullah carried out the July
12 raid.

Moreover, the results show the majority of Lebanese believe the only way to
liberate Lebanese detainees in Israeli prisons is through the capture of
Israeli soldiers and a prisoner swap, as was the case in 2000.

The survey showed near-identical numbers as an earlier survey, published by
As-Safir on March 2. That survey showed 70.9 percent support for Hizbullah
operations to capture Israeli soldiers.

However, while 59 percent of the Druze community in March supported such
operations, only 40 percent now express such support.

Christian support for capture operations rose from 48 percent to 55 percent, due
likely to the Free Patriotic Movement’s memorandum of understanding signed with

The survey showed 87 percent support for Hizbullah’s retaliatory attacks on
northern Israel. Such a high level of support must be attributed to Hizbullah’s
political and military performance, in addition to a national consensus
identifying Israel as Lebanon’s main enemy.

The survey suggests that Hizbullah’s military performance has bolstered
confidence in the resistance’s abilities as 63 percent of respondents expected
a Hizbullah victory over Israel.

The survey showed that a large majority of Lebanese do not consider the US to be
an honest mediator (89.5 percent). A similar survey conducted by the Beirut
Center for Research and Information published in As-Safir on January 31 showed
38.2 percent support for the US role in Lebanon. This drop is due to the close
political cooperation between the US and Israel.

Meanwhile, the majority of respondents were unsatisfied with their government’s
performance on the diplomatic level (64.3 percent) and relief efforts (54

However, the rates varied according to sect, as 82.1 percent of Shiites polled
and 64.8 percent of Sunnis polled said they were dissatisfied with the
government, while 50.1 percent of Druze polled and 61.9 percent of Christians
polled said the government had done a good job with humanitarian relief.