Congressional Republicans will block Obama's initiative with Cuba, Nigerian government in a tussle with US, Iran's importance, Jews facing decline in Germany, and North Korea can improve relations through South Korea's help

This week's round-up of commentaries includes doubt over Congressional Republicans stance over Obama's initiative with Cuba, Nigerian government in a tussle with US, Obama recognizes Iran's regional importance, Jewish community needs a revival in Germany, and North Korea can improve relations with the world through South Korea's help. 

AP Photo/Desmond Boylan/File
Classic American cars used as collective taxis drive along a street in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. Tens of thousands more American tourists are expected to flock this year to a country where some five-star hotels don't have working air-conditioning or hand towels. The Obama administration hopes the new wave of U.S. tourists will fuel one of the healthiest parts of Cuba's new entrepreneurial sector, the thousands of private bed and breakfasts.

Embassy / Ottawa
Congressional Republicans will block Obama’s initiative with Cuba

President Barack Obama’s decision last month to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba was a good idea...,” writes Gwynne Dyer. “Unfortunately ... Obama’s good idea is not really going to change things much.... The Republican Party now controls both Houses of Congress, and the embargo cannot be ended except by Congressional consent. That will not be forthcoming.... It makes political sense for Republicans to oppose Obama’s initiative: they have no interest in allowing him a victory that they have it within their power to thwart. Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida vowed that he would do ‘everything in my power’ to keep the embargo in place, and also threatened to block the confirmation of a US ambassador to Cuba and prevent funding for construction of a US embassy in Havana.... Maybe some serious change will eventually come out of this initiative, but certainly not before the end of 2016.” 

Daily Independent / Lagos, Nigeria
Nigerian government reacts over military matters against US

“The American Embassy in Nigeria in a press release, recently, announced the cancellation of United States of America training for the Nigerian military,” states an editorial. “The statement said the cancellation was at the [insistence] of the Nigerian government.... [T]he action by the Federal Government in stopping the training can only be seen as reactionary and retaliatory to the perceived non-cooperation of the US in assisting the Nigerian military in the war against Boko Haram insurgency and it will ultimately create bigger diplomatic and, perhaps, economic row between the two countries. Government needs to exercise some cautions.” 

Iran Daily / Tehran, Iran
Obama recognizes Iran as a major regional player

“Iran is located in a strategic region and can play an important role [in] the world order. That’s why [President] Obama tries to approach Iran with policies based on realities and not ambitions and illusions,” states an editorial. “He well knows that Iran is totally different from Cuba and is situated in one of the world’s most important geopolitical regions. His views about Iran show that his men in the State Department, the CIA, and the Pentagon can analyze the situation in Iran better than his predecessors.... [The United States] is well aware that Iran ... is the center of stability in the Middle East and its stability will lead to the stability of the entire region.”  

Spiegel / Hamburg, Germany
Germany’s Jewish community faces sharp decline

“Since the early 1990s, Germany’s Jewish community has grown from 30,000 to 100,000 members...,” writes Pavel Lokshin. “But that growth appears to have come to a halt following a decision a few years back by the government in Berlin to end policies that provided for easier emigration from the former Soviet Union. Today, many Jewish congregations are graying swiftly.... [T]he Central Council of Jews in Germany has recognized the need to strengthen its outreach programs for Jewish youth.” 

Korea Joongang Daily / Seoul, South Korea
North Korea needs South Korea to improve relations with US

“North Korean leader Kim [Jong-un] has completed the official three-year mourning for his deceased father Kim Jong-il,” states an editorial. “He indicated in his New Year’s address that he was open to any form of inter-Korean dialogue including summit talks. He clearly manifested that he wants out of his economic plight. But no rapprochement and overtures from Pyongyang will be taken seriously unless the country gives up military and cyber provocations in the name of protecting its regime. North Korea will be able to improve its relationship with the United States and the rest of the world only through dialogue with South Korea. It must stop its word games and respond to talks. The Seoul government must make the most of the dialogue momentum to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.” 

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