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January 09, 2007

The Lebanese Speak
Posted by Zvika Krieger

Returning to Lebanon after spending three weeks in Sri Lanka, I was surprised to see that the anti-government March 8 coalition was still camped out in downtown Beirut. Their 38-day protest has brought the city to a standstill, and even the “escalated” actions they announced yesterday will probably do little to break the stalemate between them and the governing March 14 coalition. One of the primary reasons for the current conflict is that both sides claim to represent a larger segment of the Lebanese people since this summer’s war with Israel. It’s tough to tell who is right.

Zogby International has released one of the first exhaustive studies of Lebanese public opinion since the war, which sheds some light on the current conflict. According to the poll, opinion on the major issues facing the Lebanon seems to universally divide along sectarian lines—with the Shi’ites on one side and the Sunnis, Christians, and Druze on the other. This helps to dispel Hizballah’s claim of broad-based support for their pro-Syrian, anti-government coalition.

In case you were fooled by Christian leader Michel Aoun’s alliance with Hizballah, the poll proves that Lebanese Christians remain among the most pro-Western and pro-American segment of the country’s population. The Druze continue to be the most consistent source of US support in Lebanon -- they are the only group in Lebanon that still supports US efforts to spread democracy in the region and, interestingly enough, they would rather be ruled by Condoleeza Rice than Ahmadinajad, Saddam Hussein, or King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Condi ’08, anyone?

The poll also shows how deluded Lebanon’s Shi’ite population has become—the vast majority of them believe that Iran has only peaceful intentions for its nuclear program and that an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq would make things better. But even with Iran’s nuclear grand-standing, the poll reports that Shi’ites in Lebanon would prefer to live under Hugo Chavez than Ahmadinajad.


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Yes, but rather than actually living under Condi Rice, the Druze of Lebanon live under Walid Jumblatt --- a mercenary feudal leader whose alliances change like snakeskin. The same man who now praises Washington also blamed it for destroying the Twin Towers on 9/11, just in case anyone had any bizarre notions about the Druze being neocon-loving pro-Americans.

The link to the Zogby poll didn't work for me.

The link to the Zogby poll didn't work for me.

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