"Sectarian Identity and Attitudes Toward Foreign Policy: Evidence from a Survey in Lebanon"

Faten Ghosn, Associate Professor School of Government & Public Policy and School of Middle East and North African Studies
Given the complexity of the foreign policy setting in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the multi-sectarian landscape in Lebanon makes it an ideal site for studying the role that identity plays in determining attitudes towards foreign powers in major regional issues. In this essay, we examine to what extent sectarian identity shapes Lebanese attitudes toward the foreign policies of international actors in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Syrian Civil War. Using an original nationally representative face-to-face survey conducted in Lebanon between October 2-26, 2015 with a sample of 1,200 adults (age 18 and over). Our findings suggest that sectarian identities and political alliances have independent impacts on foreign policy attitudes toward belligerent countries. Lebanese Shiite, Christian and Druze sects hold highly negative attitudes toward anti-Syrian regime countries (i.e. Saudi Arabia and Turkey) whereas Lebanese Sunnis hold negative opinions of pro- Syrian regime countries, (i.e. Iran and Russia). While for most Shiites their sectarian identity and political affiliation overlap, other sectarian groups vary in their preferred political alliance, and accordingly their foreign policy formation. In addition, attitudes regarding both conflicts do not completely overlap; there is a substantial difference in countries’ policies toward these two conflicts by sects, especially for the Christians and Druze.
Location: Marshall, Room 490
845 N Park Ave
Original event listing here.



Friday, February 3, 2017 - 3:00pm

SBS Unit: