A few weeks ago, a video of Walid Jumblatt saying nasty things about his allies appeared on YouTube. This week, a new video has popped up, which has Jumblatt’s arch-rival Talal Arslan calling on the Syrians to make Jumblatt “pay the price” for his betrayal of the community.
What is it with Druze leaders and YouTube? Once upon a time, rival clan chiefs would have sent messages to each other with decapitated horses’ heads or by trampling helpless serfs under their stallions’ hooves. Today, they seem to prefer posting embarrassing videos on YouTube.
I have a feeling that the War of the Camera Phones is just getting started. Arslan may next release a video of Jumblatt picking his nose and flicking a booger at a picture of Samir Geagea, to which Walid Bek will undoubtedly respond with an old clip of Arslan giving Rustom Ghazaleh a warm oil massage. These guys are ruthless and are not afraid to play by Nokia Rules.
If you’re interested in precisely how Arslan worded his invitation to the Syrians, take a listen from 4:24 until the end. It seems that in a meeting in Damascus, someone suggested that troubles be stirred up in various Druze villages so as to make Jumblatt take a fall. Arslan replied that only the local families would pay the price of such a strategy, not the political parties. He suggested instead that “if your arm is long, then make him pay the price himself, and when I defend him, you can delegate me in his place.”
It has a bit of a cryptic ‘gotta-see-a-guy-about-a-thing’ quality to it, and I’m not sure that Arslan was really calling for a hit. What he probably meant was that if the Syrians had Jumblatt on a camera phone video doing something super humiliating, they should put it on YouTube and Jumblatt would have to abdicate his throne in shame.