Nasrallah 'most admired' Arab leader

99% of Lebanese Shi'ites: Israel is weaker than it looks, only matter of time before it's defeated.

nasrallah 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
nasrallah 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah is the most admired leader among the Arab public, a survey released Wednesday showed. Twenty-six percent of respondents in six countries selected Nasrallah as their most admired leader, compared to 16% who chose Syrian President Bashar Assad and 10% who picked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to the survey published by the the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington. The poll was published the same day Israel completed a lopsided prisoner swap with Hizbullah that is likely to further boost Nasrallah's standing in the Arab world. The Shi'ite Hizbullah leader was also the top pick in predominantly Sunni countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Jordan. Ninety-nine percent of Lebanese Shi'ites polled said Israel was weaker than it looked and that it was only a matter of time before it was defeated. The numbers are up from 59% in an identical survey two years ago. The 2008 survey found that 39% of all Lebanese shared this view, compared to 32% who said no one could tell if Israel would get stronger or weaker, and 20% who said Israel would use it power to consolidate its position. Shibley Telhami, the author of the study, attributes the nearly unanimously negative Shi'ite view of Israel to a unification of the Shi'ite position following internal struggles in Lebanon over the last two years, as well as the massive media exposure to Hizbullah and its Iranian backers. The survey was carried out among nearly 4,000 (non-Palestinian) Arab respondents in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. The results of the survey came as no surprise, according to Prof. Rafi Israeli of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "It turns out that the most murderous and barbaric leaders are also the champions of the Arab world," he said Wednesday. Israeli said a similar poll broadcast on Al-Jazeera shortly after the 2001 attacks on the United States found that Osama bin Laden was the No. 1 leader in the Arab world. "In our dealings with the Shi'ite world, including Iran, both the West and Israel have been acting in a state of dhimmitude," he said. "Muslims, and especially Shi'ites, take this as a sign of weakness and submissiveness."