Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman withdrew from the Republican presidential race Monday and endorsed front-runner Mitt Romney, while a supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry called for him to also drop out for the sake of conservative unity. And Romney was again the biggest target on stage at a debate in South Carolina five days before that state’s primary on Saturday. But his rivals traded a few shots at each other as they tried to position themselves as the best conservative hopeful to derail the front-runner.
Taiwan Vote Stirs Chinese Hopes for Democracy (Andrew Jacobs, New York Times)
There was another winner in the election this weekend that handed President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan a second term in office — the faint but unmistakable clamor for democracy in China. Thanks in large part to an uncharacteristically hands-off approach by Chinese Internet censors, the campaign between Mr. Ma and his main challenger was avidly followed by millions of mainland Chinese, who consumed online tidbits of election news and biting commentary that they then spit out far and wide through social media outlets.
Lieberman: Obama would attack Iran if necessary (Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy)
President Barack Obama is prepared to give the order to strike Iran to prevent it from getting a nuclear weapon if sanctions and international pressure prove ineffective, said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who just returned from a whirlwind trip around the region.
U.S. Warns Israel against Iran Strike (Adam Entous, Julian E. Barnes and Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal)
President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top officials have delivered a string of private messages to Israeli leaders warning about the dire consequences of a strike against Iran. The U.S. wants Israel to give more time for the effects of sanctions and other measures intended to force Iran to abandon its perceived efforts to build nuclear weapons. Stepping up the pressure, Mr. Obama spoke by telephone on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv next week.
Egypt’s ElBaradei Ends Bid for Presidency, Citing Continued Autocracy (Matt Bradley, Wall Street Journal)
Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei on Saturday withdrew his candidacy from Egypt’s coming presidential race in protest over the autocratic governance that has persisted under Egypt’s post-revolutionary military leadership. Though Mr. ElBaradei wasn’t considered among the top contenders for presidential elections scheduled for this spring, his global stature makes his pullout a symbolic blow to the military leadership and its often faltering stewardship of the country’s transition to democracy. Mr. ElBaradei’s statement on Saturday marks the highest-profile censure of the military’s governance since a leading group of generals, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, assumed power from President Hosni Mubarak when he stepped down amid nationwide protests nearly one year ago.
Islamic Militants Halt Aid to Famine-Stricken Somalia (Solomon Moore, Wall Street Journal)
Islamist militants have cut off emergency food delivery for an estimated 240,000 people in the central and southern regions of Somalia, according to relief workers, in an ominous development for one of the largest food-delivery programs in the famine-stricken east African nation. Officials with the International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday that a 140-truck convoy carrying 3,500 tons of perishable food oil, beans, rice and seeds for the planting season has been held up for a month. The blocked supply, which the Somali militants haven’t fully explained, comes as the country recovers from a grim two-year drought.