World News Brief, Thursday January 13

Hezbollah to resign from Lebanon government over Hariri assassination investigation (+ analysis & background); North and South Korea pick up the phone for first time in eight months; Haiti: one year on; High turnout in Sudan poll; and more

Top of the Agenda: Hezbollah Exit to Topple Lebanese Government

In a decision that would likely bring down the current government, Islamic militant group Hezbollah (Haaretz) plans to resign from the Lebanese cabinet over tensions associated with an investigation into the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. Analysts widely expect the UN tribunal (NYT) investigating the attack to charge several members of Hezbollah. The militant group has vehemently dismissed the UN body as an "US-Israeli plot" and demanded that Lebanon withdraw its funding for the organization. Saad Hariri, the current prime minister and son of the slain Lebanese leader (BBC), is scheduled to discuss the crisis with President Obama in Washington on Wednesday.

According to experts, the standoff has aggravated existing rifts between Hariri, who is supported by the United States, and Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and Syria (Reuters). Hezbollah's departure would most likely end Hariri's rule and destabilize a fragile state prone to sectarian violence (Guardian). The United States has strongly appealed for the tribunal to issue its findings and prosecute those responsible.


Pending UN indictments could link Hezbollah and Syria to the death of Rafik Hariri. Lebanon expert Michael Young says all sides, including Saudi Arabia and the United States, are scrambling to deal with the impact of the findings.

This article for examines the politics surrounding the special UN tribunal investigating the murder of Hariri.

In Foreign Affairs, Bilal Y. Saab argues the investigation into Rafik Hariri's assassination highlights the detrimental role that Hezbollah plays in Lebanese politics, and placed Lebanon at the center of a regional power struggle that the United States cannot afford to ignore.


This CFR Backgrounder presents a cogent profile of the Lebanese militant group.


PACIFIC RIM: North and South Korea Restore Hotline

After a nearly eight-month long suspension, North Korea reopened communication with the south via a Red Cross hotline (Yonhap). Pyongyang has proposed a quick resumption of détente talks, but South Korea continues to demand that the north acknowledge wrongdoing for violent provocations.

Separately, in meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates stressed that Pyongyang halt nuclear and missile testing prior to resuming Six Party Talks (WSJ).



- Haiti Recovery Hits One-Year Marker

- EU Considers Raising Rescue Fund

- Sudan Looks To Have Reached Referendum Threshold


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on