Morning Brief, Wednesday, August 16

Cease-fire in Lebanon It's still holding for the most part. France, widely expected to lead a hastily-organized UN force along the border, refuses to send troops unless Hezbollah is disarmed. Yedioth Ahronoth reports that Hezbollah MPs insist the group will resist any move to disarm, focusing instead on turning fighters into instant relief workers in ...

Cease-fire in Lebanon

It's still holding for the most part. France, widely expected to lead a hastily-organized UN force along the border, refuses to send troops unless Hezbollah is disarmed. Yedioth Ahronoth reports that Hezbollah MPs insist the group will resist any move to disarm, focusing instead on turning fighters into instant relief workers in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah plans to distribute as much as $150 million - all provided by Iran - for rebuilding efforts in the coming days.

Facing a stock scandal and calls for his immediate resignation, Israeli Army Chief Dan Halutz announces Israel won't leave southern Lebanon until the UN force arrives, "even if it takes months."  

Cease-fire in Lebanon

It's still holding for the most part. France, widely expected to lead a hastily-organized UN force along the border, refuses to send troops unless Hezbollah is disarmed. Yedioth Ahronoth reports that Hezbollah MPs insist the group will resist any move to disarm, focusing instead on turning fighters into instant relief workers in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah plans to distribute as much as $150 million – all provided by Iran – for rebuilding efforts in the coming days.

Facing a stock scandal and calls for his immediate resignation, Israeli Army Chief Dan Halutz announces Israel won't leave southern Lebanon until the UN force arrives, "even if it takes months."  

Ignatius makes a case for political – not military – solutions and warns Nasrallah that he'll "lose his new halo" if he continues to act as Iran's proxy. Rami Khouri in the Daily Star laments what he sees as a new era of increased instability and polarization in the region, fueled in part by the rise of groups with more legitimacy than governments:

One of these [political ripples in the region] is the prominence of non-state actors, such as Hizbullah, that act with more efficacy and, in some cases, more legitimacy than some governments in the Arab world. The significant political fact is not only that such an organization has become very powerful in tandem with the formal Lebanese institutions of state, but also that it has in part provoked and single-handedly fought a war with a neighboring state – and emerged in rather good shape. So, Nasrallah speaks to the nation after the fighting stops. 

Airline terror plot

The UK's deputy prime minister said yesterday that some of the 24 suspects in custody will likely escape serious charges for lack of evidence. 

Elsewhere

China and South Korea get all bent out of shape over Japanese PM Koizumi's visit to a controversial war shrine yesterday. But Japan has yet another diplomatic row to deal with today: A Russian patrol boat fired on and killed a Japanese fisherman near a disputed chain of islands, the first such fatality in five decades. Return of the islands to Japan is a pet cause for likely Koizumi successor Shinzo Abe and we're sure to hear more about it in the coming weeks.  

Islamists in Somalia gain control of more territory along the coast. Iran's foreign minister says his country is still open to discussion over halting its nuclear program. Despite Chavez's rhetoric, Venezuelans still love American goods. And we're still the third rock from the sun, but our planetary team may be growing.

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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