– Russia’s presidential election, which swept Vladimir Putin back to the presidency, was “clearly skewed” in favor of Putin according to an international team of observers who reported allegations of ballot-rigging and “carousel voting.”
– China announced an 11.2 percent increase in its military spending yesterday, boosting it to over $100 billion in 2012, a move likely to fuel concerns about Beijing’s rapid military build-up.
– Free Syrian Army leader Col. Riad al-As’ad appealed for international support a day after rebel fighters ceded the central city of Homs to government forcers after, according to one rebel commander, dissident fighters “ran out of bullets.”
– The number of IEDs used by rebels in Syria has increased sharply this year — 134 percent from December to January — suggesting to some military experts that more outside help is reaching regime opponents and the conflict may widen.
– In a speech later today, Attorney General Eric Holder will provide the most detailed account of the Obama administration’s legal rationale for killing U.S. citizens abroad.
– With the vote from Iran’s parliamentary elections nearly completely tallied, it appears that allies of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, have gained a large majority, dealing a serious blow to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hold on power.
– Hopes for a long-term U.S.-Afghan strategic partnership faltered this weekend despite a new American willingness to move up the transfer of detention centers to the Afghans to as soon as six months from now.
– The Washington Post reports: “Egypt’s new lawmakers on Saturday began discussing the makeup of an assembly responsible for rewriting the country’s constitution, embarking on their most consequential task so far.”