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Few Lebanese Want Hezbollah Militia Simply Disarmed

Few Lebanese Want Hezbollah Militia Simply Disarmed

by Richard Burkholder


PRINCETON, NJ -- Following the recent 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah paramilitary forces, there were widely differing interpretations of the outcome from international observers. Among the Lebanese people, however, there is a degree of consensus that Hezbollah prevailed militarily. About three-fourths of all Lebanese (74%) say they view the conflict as "mostly a military victory for Hezbollah," while just 14% see it as "mostly a military defeat." 

The Future of Hezbollah Fighters

The United Nations Security Council has called for the disarmament and decommissioning of all of Hezbollah's fighting forces. However, only one in seven Lebanese (15%) say they believe Hezbollah's fighters should simply be disarmed. Nearly half (47%) say that while they agree with the proviso to disarm Hezbollah's fighters, they would then like to see them integrated into Lebanon's national army. More dramatically, just over a third (36%) say they favor neither the initial disarmament nor the subsequent integration of Hezbollah's forces.

Christians (61%) and Sunnis (58%) are inclined toward the option of disarmament followed by military integration, with relatively few (24% of Christians and 11% of Sunnis) saying they simply want Hezbollah's fighters to be disarmed. The vast majority of Shiites (85%), however, say they want Hezbollah neither disarmed nor incorporated into Lebanon's national forces.

Future Arms Shipments to Hezbollah

Despite the U.N. Security Council's ban on such shipments, most Lebanese say they believe both Iran (68%) and Syria (66%) are likely to continue to ship arms to Hezbollah. Shiites, Sunnis, and Christians are about equally likely to hold these perceptions.

Just over a third of all Lebanese think Iran and Syria should continue to supply arms to Hezbollah (38% for Iran, 37% for Syria), though they are outweighed by the majorities who disagree (53% and 54%, respectively). Not surprisingly, there are serious differences between the country's Shiite community -- about 8 in 10 of whom would welcome such shipments -- and its Sunni and Christian populations, of whom 64% and 70% are opposed, respectively.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews conducted between Sept. 18 and Oct. 12, 2006, with a randomly selected national sample of 1,000 Lebanese adults, aged 18 and older. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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