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Russia in Iran, global crackdown on ivory, work stoppage affects children, diplomacy in South Sudan, ultimatum from Russia

A roundup of global commentary for the Sept. 5, 2016 weekly magazine.

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    A long-range S-300 missile system is displayed by Iran's army during a parade marking National Army Day, in Tehran, Iran.
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Al Arabiya News / Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Russia in Iran

“Although it’s surprising that the Russians have a military base for their troops in Iran, what’s stranger is that the Iranian regime has granted them a foothold in its territory...,” writes Abdulrahman al-Rashed. “I doubt that the joint war in Syria is the only motivation behind this development in military relations. There was cooperation between the two countries before the existence of the base and that period of cooperation achieved its goals. However, it now seems that Moscow is resorting to mystery and to sending contradictory messages.... [T]he alliance between the two countries could reflect Moscow’s desire to expand its military and political influence, or it could be part of the Russian strategy to confront Iran, or it could be part of an Iranian plan to blackmail the West into activating the nuclear agreement.” 

The New Times / Kigali, Rwanda

Global crackdown on ivory

“The East African region has become a popular transit route for illegal ivory traders...,” states an editorial. “The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has raised a red flag over the issue in a yet to be released report by the standing Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Wildlife. The report shows a disturbing wave of ivory smuggling in the East African region. This calls for more regional efforts to curtail the crime.... But more importantly, it also calls for a global partnership to involve the destination countries for the smuggled ivory.... An intensified global crackdown on criminal gangs that reportedly conspire with corrupt regional bureaucrats to traffic vast quantities of ivory will deliver victory against this crime.” 

The News / Mexico City

Work stoppage affects children

“[T]he National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union [recently held] a work stoppage in five, maybe six, different states which will only end when President Enrique Peña Nieto and the national Congress decide to abide by their demand to topple the 2013 Education Reform...,” writes Ricardo Castillo. “The cost of the protests will surely be paid by businesses affected by the marches and road blockades. But most importantly, the children [were] affected, who [missed] one more day of classes given the lock-down nature of this conflict which seems to have no end.” 

The Japan Times / Tokyo

Diplomacy in South Sudan

“South Sudan is again on the brink of upheaval,” states an editorial. “Even though United Nations peacekeepers have failed to keep the peace, the U.N. [recently] voted to boost its peacekeeping presence there, a move that ... [South Sudan] has challenged. The world must bring all its resources to bear to bring peace back to South Sudan.... Unfortunately, the U.N. record does not inspire confidence. There are reports that U.N. peacekeepers did not respond to pleas for help last month.... Diplomacy is the only possible solution.” 

Carnegie Moscow Center / Moscow

Ultimatum from Russia

“When the Russian FSB (Federal Security Service) announced ... that it had captured a group of Ukrainian ‘saboteurs’ allegedly planning to attack tourist facilities in Crimea, many analysts feared Russia would use the incident as a pretext for war,” writes Alexander Baunov. “These fears now seem misplaced. After all, if Russia wanted war, it would have been a far more believable casus belli to let the attacks take place. In reality, the arrests weren’t a justification for military action, but rather an attempt to start a conversation with the West about what the Kremlin believes is Ukraine’s failure to uphold the Minsk Protocols.... The Kremlin is using the alleged terrorist plot in Crimea as [a] way of delivering an ultimatum to its Western partners. It’s saying: ‘You said yourselves that there can be no military solution to the deadlock over Crimea and Donbas, so go ahead and broker a peaceful settlement. If you can’t, Russia reserves the right to make the next move.’ ” 

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