On December 19, 2019, a relatively unknown figure in Lebanon stepped to the podium at the
Presidential Palace just outside Beirut, his bookish and stoic demeanor contrasting with the
cheery Christmas decorations adorning the hall from which he was about to make his speech.
To the millions of Lebanese watching Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab begin his remarks
in a seldom-employed academic Arabic, however, the absurdity of the scene did not eclipse