World News Brief, Tuesday January 25

Lebanese leaders debate formation of new government as Hezbollah show hand(+ analysis); Drought in China thretens food prices; Palestinian Authority claims leaked documents are "lies";  Tunisian protesters tear gassed as they demand further reform; and more

Top of the Agenda: Talks Begin on New Lebanese Government

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman commenced two days of negotiations with parliamentary groups in order to appoint a new prime minister (al-Jazeera). In early discussions, Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group, nominated former Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a billionaire businessman, to head the next government. Hezbollah's leadership has vowed to respect Lebanese institutions and form a national unity government if their candidate wins the nomination (Bloomberg). Lebanon's acting Prime Minister Saad Hariri stated he will not join any new coalition led by a Hezbollah-backed candidate (VOA). In the political maneuvering that has followed the dissolution of Hariri's government, Hezbollah has won the support of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt – an influential figure analysts suggest could play a decisive role in a new coalition (CNN).

The recent round of talks was necessitated after Hezbollah brought down the western-backed unity government earlier this month in protest to a UN tribunal investigating the murder of former PM Rafiq Hariri. Experts expect the special inquiry to charge several members of Hezbollah with Hariri's assassination (FT). The United States considers Hezbollah, which has close ties to Iran and Syria, to be a terrorist organization.


In this article for, Steven Heydemann discusses Hezbollah's withdrawal from the Lebanese coalition government and the prospects its political future.

This editorial for The Daily Star suggests that if the consultations for a new Lebanese government go smoothly, few will be able to dispute the results, including foreign powers.

In this op-ed for The National, CFR's Mohamad Bazzi says the people of Lebanon are once again staring into a political abyss.


PACIFIC RIM: Drought Brings Crop Warning in China

An extended drought in parts of north, central, and eastern China is affecting half of the wheat-growing land, and almost a quarter of a million people will face drinking water shortages. Analysts say the drought is likely to put further pressure on already rising food prices (BBC).

Indonesia: Indonesia will sign several deals with India this week, which are worth over $15 billion. The agreements are part of a push by Indonesia to attract $150 billion in infrastructure investment (FT) in order to meet a rising demand for goods and services at home and abroad.



Palestinian Authority Rejects Leaked Docs
Karzai and Afghan Lawmakers Seek Deal
Tear Gas Used on Tunisia Protests


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