- By David KennerDavid Kenner is the Middle East editor at Foreign Policy. He is based in Beirut, Lebanon, and has been with FP since 2009 (a long time, he knows). He worked for FP previously in Cairo, where he covered the early days of the Arab Spring, and before that in Washington. He has attended Georgetown University and the American University of Beirut and has reported from Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
Lebanese politicians have been hunkering down ever since protests broke out in Syria eight months ago, fearful that the instability in their neighbor could spill across the border. And while Beirut has avoided large scale unrest so far, one of the most spectacular outbursts occurred on Monday – not on the streets, but on the set of a Lebanese television station.
It all started when former parliamentarian Moustafa Alloush faced off against Fayez Shukur, the head of the Baath Party in Lebanon, on a live talk show. Alloush’s political patron, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has taken to Twitter in recent days to denounce the Syrian government’s "massacres," while Shukur leads the Lebanese wing of Syria’s (functionally) one-party regime.
The scene was set for a conflagration – and one soon erupted. Alloush denounced Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a "tyrant," "criminal," and "liar," Shukur called Alloush a liar, and Alloush responded by telling Shukur to "eat shit." It deteriorated from there.
You can watch the fracas above. I’ll only say that talk show host Walid Abboud first attempts to defuse the situation by appealing to the "docteurs," but by the time Shukur has picked up a chair, is reduced to yelling at the two "shabab" — or "guys."
Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who has tried to remain neutral regarding the violence wracking Syria, tried to play down the incident over Twitter. "Unfortunately, it happens on #TV in many Democracies," he wrote. "[B]ut, not my style."