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Only policy will end Syria's war; Russia's limited influence; rights for Saudi women; Israel should welcome asylum seekers; India's long road to progress

A roundup of global commentary from the Dec. 21, 2015 weekly magazine.

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin (r.) shakes hands with US Secretary of State John Kerry during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. The United States and Russia need to find common ground to end Syria's civil war and restore stability in eastern Ukraine, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday, as he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to try to narrow gaps in the countries' approaches to the crises.
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The Asahi Shimbun / Tokyo
Policy, not bombs, to end Syria’s war
“One question confronting countries around the world today is what should be their collective response to the current epidemic of terrorism.... Simply finding enemies overseas and launching military attacks against them is no solution.... What needs to be done is to get various parties concerned to work together to lay out a vision for a new regime in [Syria]. Without a blueprint for building a new regime in Syria, it is not possible to define the ultimate goal of military actions...,” states an editorial. “The urgent and colossal challenge of responding to the growing wave of terrorism through effective international cooperation should not be simplified as ... more powerful military action.”

The Straits Times / Singapore
Russia’s influence is limited in Syria
“[E]ven if, by some miracle, the Russians can be persuaded to cooperate on Syria while still being subjected to sanctions in Europe, it’s difficult to see what Moscow can actually do in the Middle East. Like the West, the Russians don’t want to put troops on the ground to fight the terrorists in Syria, and bombing [Islamic State] from the air is no different from what the West is already doing; the last thing the anti-[IS]operations in the Middle East need now is extra air power,” writes Jonathan Eyal. “The Russians may eventually be persuaded to sacrifice [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] and replace him with a government of ‘national unity’. But they can’t guarantee the survival of that government, nor can they guarantee that all of Syria’s bewildering number of rebel groups would agree to lay down their weapons.”

Arab News / Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
More rights for Saudi women
“By issuing national identification cards ... women have full access to domestic courts, which for most divorced and widowed [Saudi] women is one of the most important government resources available...,” writes Sabria S. Jawhar. “While the issue of obtaining a national identity card and obtaining rights to ensure that the children of widows and divorced women receive an education and medical care may seem like a small step toward the full range of rights under Islam, it signals greater things ahead for Saudi women. It’s only a matter of time that the inequity of marriage, the right to earn a salary and inheritance will also be addressed.”

Recommended: Syria in crisis: The main parties to the conflict

The National / Abu Dhabi, united Arab Emirates
Israel should welcome asylum seekers
“[T]he stance that Tel Aviv has taken with asylum seekers reveals Israel’s core tension between democracy and ethnocracy, or the country’s inability to be simultaneously Jewish and democratic. Democratic societies around the world, especially ones founded by refugees, should not turn their backs on asylum seekers...,” writes Joseph Dana. “Employing a system of discriminatory laws ..., Israel continues to deprive its non-Jewish residents of their rights. While this once only affected Palestinians in the occupied territories and Israel, today the legal foundations of the state are designed to ensure the privileges of Jewish ­Israelis above all others.... This is part and parcel of the one-state reality that western leaders are warning against.”

Business day / Johannesburg, South Africa
India still has a long road ahead
“So it is official. India is the only Bric left standing.... In short, the world’s third-largest economy in purchasing power parity terms can now legitimately lay claim to be the global economy’s most impressive outperformer...,” writes David Pilling on India’s standing among its economic peers of Brazil, Russia, and China. “Yet, unless [the nation lays] the foundations for development, not only through appropriate [political] reforms, but also through investments in health and education, growth can quickly peter out. India lags behind its peers in measures of health, literacy and its record on improving the position of women.... For the moment, India is a standout. But as the fading fortunes of fellow Brics demonstrate, that is no guarantee of future success.”

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