Amal Movement supporter carries a banner that reads in Arabic, This is Nabih Berri you idiots, during a protest in Mar Elias, Monday, Jan. 29, 2018. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Lebanon teetered on the verge of chaos Monday after a video showing Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil calling Speaker Nabih Berri a "thug" triggered a wave of street protests by the speaker's supporters, who responded by blocking a number of Beirut's major roads and vital arteries with burning tires.Bassil's "thug" remark was the tip of the iceberg of long-simmering tension between the FPM and the Amal Movement that has its roots in Berri's staunch opposition to the election of Michel Aoun as president in 2016 .Further fueling tensions was another leaked video in which Bassil, the FPM leader, was asked in a closed meeting with FPM supporters about a solution to the problem with Berri, who is locked in a nearly two-month standoff with Aoun over the officers' decree. Berri demanded a televised apology from Bassil for calling him a "baltaji" or "thug" as a means of defusing street tensions.Reacting to Bassil's video, supporters of Berri took to the streets in various areas in Beirut in the afternoon, waving the Amal Movement's green flag, Berri's portraits and denouncing the FPM leader.Hezbollah, which is allied with Aoun and Berri, threw its weight behind Berri, denouncing Bassil's remarks and saying that such rhetoric doesn't build a state.
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