Hezbollah concedes in Lebanese elections; Europe moves right as moderates stay home; North Koreans sentence journalists; Pakistani villagers rebel against Taliban; and more
Top of the Agenda: Lebanon Election Results
Lebanon's ruling coalition, the country's Western-backed "March 14" bloc, retained its majority in a much-anticipated electoral showdown against an opposition bloc led by Hezbollah, which is widely seen as a proxy for Syrian and Iranian interests. The Lebanese paper Daily Star reports officials from the Hezbollah bloc have conceded defeat to news agencies, though only unofficial results have been released at this point. The vote, the article says, pivoted around Christian swing districts.
Al-Jazeera reports official results are not expected until later today but that all major parties appear to be accepting the accuracy of the reported unofficial polls.
The leader of the March 14 bloc, Saad Hariri, the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, must still work to form a government. Both Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement, an influential party led by former army chief Michel Aoun, have indicated that they would like to join a unity government with Hariri's supporters--though Hariri said before the election that he was not inclined to form a government with Hezbollah.
Reuters has a feature outlining the reaction of different Lebanese political leaders to the reported results.
An article in Foreign Policy argues that losing might actually serve Hezbollah's purposes.
This Backgrounder explains the structure of Lebanon's vote and profiles its major players.
CFR experts Mohamad Bazzi and Steven Cook discuss the importance of the Lebanese vote for the Obama administration's new plans for engagement in the Middle East.
PACIFIC RIM: North Korea Sentences Journalists
A North Korean court sentenced two American journalists (Yonhap) to twelve years of hard labor on charges of illegal entry and conducting a"grave crime" against North Korea, potentially further escalating tensions between the countries. President Obama said he was "deeply concerned" (BBC) about the verdict and a White House spokesperson said Washington would pursue "all possible channels" to secure the two journalists' release.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports this morning that the Obama administration is seeking a way to interdict North Korean ships thought to be carrying weapons or nuclear technology.
CHINA-JAPAN: China Daily reports China, Japan, and the United States are expected to hold the first in a series of new trilateral talks next month, focusing both on economics and North Korea, among other issues.