Lebanon tensions over leaked video diffused after Shi'ite officials visit Christian area

Shi'ite officials visited a Christian-majority district in Lebanon on Feb. 2 in a bid to ease tensions that stemmed from a leaked video where Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil was heard calling Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri a "thug."

(REUTERS / Remo Casilli)Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil speaks during a meeting with Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano in Rome, Italy, November 15, 2017.

On Friday, officials from the Amal and Hezbollah parties visited the Christian area of Hadath in the district of Beirut in an effort to diffuse a brewing sectarian conflict over the controversial video which angered Berri's supporters. The supporters had previously staged protests across the country and demanded an apology from Bassil, Reuters detailed.

The release of the talked-about video came amid increasing tensions between Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Berri over the promotion of several army officers. A day after the video surfaced, Prime Minister Saad Hariri called for calm, saying the country does not need more inflammatory issues, The Associated Press reported.

President Aoun, Bassil's father-in-law, talked to Berri over the phone on Feb. 1. The two conflicting parties also met with members of the president's Free Patriotic Movement in Hadath.

"The situation has returned to normal after lessons were learned from recent events," said Aoun on Feb. 2 via his official Twitter account.

During a joint news conference, officials from Amal, Hezbollah, and the FPM pushed for national unity and religious tolerance. FPM lawmaker Alain Aoun said the meeting in Hadath conveys the message to Berri that "his dignity and ours are one."

Amal, on the other hand, said it had nothing to do with the demonstrations organized by Berri's supporters, who had blocked some roads, burned tires, and fired guns into the air. Troops had to be deployed in Hadath to keep violence from breaking out.

Moreover, according to the FPM, Bassil had already expressed regret over his controversial comments. The party added that it has now moved on from the issue.