Hezbollah and Karzai

Hezbollah has hand-picked a new prime minister for Lebanon, less than two weeks after the militant group walked out on now-former–Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government. The new leader (likely to be confirmed by Lebanon's parliament) is Najib Miqati, a Sunni billionaire who served briefly in the same role for a few months in 2005. Although Miqati said he was a "consensus candidate," his predecessor Hariri has said he will not join the new government (calling the change in leadership a "coup d’état"), and his supporters "took to the streets" in opposition to Hezbollah in what New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid says offered "an image of what many feared Hezbollah's victory might unleash." Miqati is expected to oppose the UN tribunal alleging Hezbollah's role in the assassination of ex–Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (Saad's father), the reason the Shia politico-terrorist group upended Lebanon's government in the first place. Washington Post correspondent Leila Fadel reports that Hezbollah's "apparent strength" seems to signal "a significant shift" for Lebananon, "away from alliances with the United States and Saudi Arabia, and toward Iran and Syria."

Meanwhile, Afghanistan seems to have moved past its own parliamentary crisis—for now. Afghan President Hamid Karzai had refused to seat the legislative body after a special court—assembled by Karzai—unveiled allegations of fraud in last September's election. But the Afghan lawmakers and the president came up with a compromise (under international pressure) allowing the lawmakers to be sworn in, as long as Karzai's court is allowed to continue its investigations. The Wall Street Journal reports that Karzai "has said the incoming legislature doesn't allocate sufficient seats" to his own ethnic group, the Pashtun plurality, and is hoping to "change the balance by disqualifying" about thirty lawmakers.