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."
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a senior editor at The National Interest. Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drezner has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation, and the Treasury Department.| Daniel W. Drezner |