Must Reads from Around the World: Feb. 3, 2012

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Somalia Transitional Government soldiers prepare to take positions near Mogadishu stadium after a brief fight with Al Shabaab fighters, August 7, 2011. (Photo: Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP)

Somalia Transitional Government soldiers prepare to take positions near Mogadishu stadium after a brief fight with Al Shabaab fighters, August 7, 2011. (Photo: Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP)

Al Shabaab Splintering – Foreign Affairs investigates the splintering of the al-Qaeda-linked militant group, al Shabaab, in Somalia and its potential fallout for the West. “In a sense, with the gains made in recent months, there are now two al Shabaabs, and if Washington and the U.N. ignore that, it will be at the cost of another decade of chaos, anguish, and death,” write Bronwyn Bruton and J. Peter Pham, of the Ansari Africa Center at the Atlantic Council.

A Star is Born - The Atlantic looks at Israel’s newest “political star” Yair Lapid – a journalist-turned-politician. Of particular interest to Zvika Krieger, of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace and a fellow at the Truman National Security Project, is Lapid’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Jerusalem, “on which he has remained largely silent since announcing his political ambitions.”

Support for Iran - Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily sets out the country’s Iran policy in an op-ed: opposition to any nuclear weapons program – but also to any sanctions and confrontation – alongside a call for a return to negotiations. “China’s clear stance shows its responsible attitude, respect for justice, adherence to peace, and opposition to war,” concludes the writer, Zhong Sheng.

Crime and Punishment - The New York Times examines the relationship between modern Japanese society and the yakuza. Formerly accepted as a fact of life, the yakuza now face pressure from  government regulations and criminalization.

Huhne In Hot Water – Britain’s Energy Secretary Chris Huhne resigned Friday morning in light of the director of public prosecutions declaring that Huhne faces a criminal charge of perverting the course of justice over speeding points allegations. The now former Liberal Democrat Cabinet member said the decision to charge him was “deeply regrettable”, adding: “I am innocent of these charges and I intend to fight this in the courts.”

Reform Woes - Staying in the U.K., and a bill to reform Britain’s National Health Service received another blow as the Royal College of General Practitioners became the latest group to call for the bill’s abandonment. Dr Clare Gerada, chairperson of the professional organization of general practitioners, told BBC radio that the bill would “turn the National Health Service into thousands of different health services, all competing for the same patients, the same knee, the same brain, the same heart.”

Telecom Battle - The Economist assesses Mexico’s telecom industry as pseudo-monopolies make billions at the expense of the Mexican consumer. Letting the mega-moguls fight it out, according to the weekly, could be the best course of action.

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