World News Brief, Tuesday October 23

Violence flares in Lebanon following assassination of Sunni intelligence chief; Chinese leftists defend Bo Xilai; South Korean police stop North Korean defectors from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border; Fidel Castro makes first appearance for months; Lance Armstrong stripped of Tour de France titles; and more

Top of the Agenda: Violence Flares in Lebanon

Lebanese troops and gunmen exchanged fire (WashPost) in Beirut's southern suburbs on Monday in an escalation of sectarian tensions after the Friday assassination of Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan, a Sunni intelligence chief vocally opposed to the Syrian leadership and Lebanese ally Hezbollah. Thousands attended Hassan's state funeral on Sunday in Beirut, where the event became a political rally against both Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Syria, which opposition politicians blame for the assassination. At least three people were killed overnight (AlJazeera) in the northern city of Tripoli, where residents on either side of the Syrian conflict have clashed. Mikati's offer to resign on Saturday was rejected by President Michel Suleiman, who said it was in the national interest (BBC) for him to stay on.


"If the goal [of the bombing] was to divert attention from the events in Syria, then people should remember this well and head off any attempt to take Lebanon further into tension and civil strife. The leaders of all major political parties and movements must act decisively to clamp down on any possibility that even more violence will result," writes a Daily Star editorial.

"It is not easy for either Turkey's or Lebanon's opposition to confront the Syrian provocations. But, as western governments are advising them, their interests lie in not overreacting and in preventing Damascus from drawing them closer into its mess. As the neighbours are discovering, a desperate Mr Assad is also a more dangerous enemy, to his own people and to the region," writes Roula Khalaf in the Financial Times.



Chinese Leftists Defend Bo Xilai

A group of Chinese leftists issued a public letter, signed by more than 300 academics and former officials, calling on the parliament's standing committee not to expel (Reuters) disgraced former top leader Bo Xilai from its ranks.

SOUTH KOREA: South Korean police blocked a group of North Korean defectors on Monday from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border (Yonhap).

CFR's Scott Snyder discusses North Korea's next provocation in this blog post.



Fidel Castro makes first appearance for months

Lance Armstrong stripped of Tour de France titles


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