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Islamic State as international threat; how to respond to terror; West waited too long in Syria; a new partnership with Russia; ending Africa's drought

A roundup of global commentary in the Nov. 30, 2015 weekly magazine

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    Islamic State group's flag is seen in an area after Kurdish troops known as peshmerga regained control of some villages west of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, Sept. 30.
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The Star / Toronto
Islamic State is no longer a regional problem
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke for all Canadians when he said our hearts go out to the people of France in a dark and terrible time. We too have felt the shock of terror, in the recent assault on Parliament and other attacks...,” states an editorial. “The Islamic State is no longer a regional problem, confined to its ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. It has morphed into a confirmed international terror threat....” There are steps that can and should be taken, the editorial suggests, including “work[ing] the diplomatic channels harder to broker an end to Syria’s ghastly civil war and heal Iraq’s dysfunctional government....” But at the same time, “the world needs to remind itself that the Syrians who are fleeing [Bashar al-Assad’s] bombs and the jidahists’ butchery are not a security threat.”

The Age / Sydney, Australia
How individuals can respond to terror attacks
“Terrorism is used by the weak against the strong. They cannot defeat us on their own. They improve their chances by recruiting the strongest possible ally – ourselves,” writes Peter Hartcher. “Terrorism works when it distorts our judgment with fear and anger, and we misjudge our responses. Terrorism turns our strength against us. It can only work if we let it....” Mr. Hartcher suggests five things to do in response: think, unite, banish false respect, preserve civilized borders, and destroy their base. “First, set aside our initial emotional responses of fear and anger. These are what the terrorists count on. Deny them.... We weaken ourselves by division.... To alienate the Muslim community would be to promote radicalisation.”

The Daily Star / Beirut, Lebanon
The West waited too long in Syria
The terrorist “attack on Paris, in which 129 people were killed, [came] hard on the heels of an [Islamic State] affiliate blowing a Russian airliner out of the sky over Sinai, killing 224 people, and just two days after the group bombed Beirut, killing 43...,” writes Michael Glackin. “[The attacks] are a reminder that the poisonous ideology of [Islamic State], and its potential to attract militants across the globe, is not dependent on its capacity to capture land and impose its caliphate faraway from Europe’s shores. The West sat on its hands for too long in Syria.... Beirut and Paris paid the price for the West’s laconic response to terror. Other cities will pay in [the] future, regardless of whether Europe closes its borders....”

The Moscow times / Moscow
A new partnership to stabilize Syria
“Russia must find a balance between the two extremes of a Soviet-like isolation from the world and close cooperation with the West on vital issues. That balance will affect both the country’s domestic life and economy: Either it will slide further into a ‘mobilization model’ even as the government displays an obvious inability to manage such a system, or else it will liberate the forces of openness and freedom that are needed, at least to some extent, for economic growth...,” writes political analyst Georgy Bovt. Mr. Bovt suggests that counterterrorism is just the beginning of what’s necessary for “constructive cooperation.... And for that, the West would have to find a way to tolerate the Putin regime and Russia would have to abandon its fervent anti-Western rhetoric, no matter how much it views Western values as ‘morally unacceptable.’ ”

Mmegi Online / Gaborone, Botswana
African nations must participate in solutions to drought
Many parts of Africa are facing extreme drought, which “could spell doom,” writes Mmegi editor Rabindranath Tagora. “But we can do something ... and stop looking for handouts from the West.... The African Union, and regional [blocs] such as Southern African Development Community, Economic Community of West Africa, the Maghrib, and East African Economic [Bloc] should build more research institutions that will focus on studying the continent’s climate patterns and find solutions to the problems.... We cannot sit back and hope that things will change for [the] better when we are not playing our part.”

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