A new order in the Middle East, Can Indonesia avoid descent into intolerance?, The Kremlin elected Donald Trump, Zimbabwe’s new ‘quasi-currency’ is not the answer, Rex Tillerson for US secretary of State?

A roundup of global commentary for the Dec. 26, 2016 weekly magazine.

Achmad Ibrahim/AP
Muslims attend Friday pray during a protest against Jakarta's Christian governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama who is being prosecuted for blasphemy, at the National Monument in Jakarta, Indonesia, Dec. 2.


The Jordan Times / Amman, Jordan
A new order in the Middle East

“The rebels’ last stand in Aleppo and the likely victory of the Russian-backed forces may usher a new era in the Middle East and a new balance of power...,” writes Hassan Barari. “To be sure ‘America’s moment in the Middle East’ is fast coming to an end.... It is clear that [President] Obama failed to understand the gravity of the situation in the Middle East. Unwisely, he alienated America’s allies and appeased America’s opponents. As a result, Iran and Russia felt emboldened to act in the manner they did.... It remains to be seen if [President-elect] Donald Trump will adopt a new strategy that could make a difference, but it seems that any effort will be a day late and a dollar short.”

South China Morning Post / Hong Kong
Can Indonesia avoid descent into intolerance?

“Indonesia’s constitution was painstakingly negotiated by secular nationalist and Muslim leaders to unify an ethnically and culturally diverse nation...,” states an editorial. “Blasphemy charges brought against the Christian and ethnic Chinese governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, whose trial opened [recently], therefore threaten pluralism and religious tolerance.... [President Joko] Widodo has been criticised for failing to temper the rhetoric from hardline clerics, who have been blamed for inciting hatred and inspiring terrorist attacks.... An ethnic and religious tinderbox is smouldering that can be extinguished only by leaders confronting extremism and taking tough action against those behind it.”

Maclean's / Toronto
The Kremlin elected Donald Trump

“Some of the most important moments in history happen fast, like a flash of lightning...,” writes Scott Gilmore. “Other epochal shifts are more subtle and incremental.... For the last two years we have been living through one of those less obvious historic transformations. [I]t happened, moment by moment, until we woke up in a cold day in December and realized that Moscow had effectively installed the next president of the United States.... By any definition of the word, this may be Russia’s greatest coup since Sputnik.... European leaders are openly questioning America’s role in NATO. Beijing is flying nuclear bombers over the South China Sea. Russian and Syrian troops are retaking Aleppo from the rebels. That’s the sound of thunder in the distance; the world has changed.”

The Zimbabwean / Harare, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s new ‘quasi-currency’ is not the answer

“The Zimbabwe dollar was abandoned in 2009 after the government ran the printing presses so wildly that the national currency became worthless...,” write Tendai Biti, former finance minister of Zimbabwe, and Todd Moss. “[A]s of November 28, 2016, Zimbabwe has a new quasi-currency ‘bond note’ that is supposed to trade at equal value to the US dollar.... [T]here’s no reason to think that bond notes will have any but the most temporary effect.... Zimbabwe’s economic problems are deep-rooted and require a holistic, sustainable solution. Bond notes are an attempt to address the symptoms of an ailing economy, not the causes. Without a political solution, the country’s decline will continue unabated.”

Deutsche Welle / Berlin
Rex Tillerson for US secretary of State?

“He’s not even on the job yet, and Rex Tillerson is already facing a stiff headwind...,” writes Miodrag Soric. “The 64-year-old has no government experience; as the CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation he cut business deals with autocrats.... Will the exploitation of natural resources and advantages in trade agreements now be more important than human rights? Will America’s commitment to NATO, or the protection of international trade routes be thrown overboard because they are too costly?... For all of the concerns that Trump’s cabinet of generals and billionaires has raised with the Europeans: Even secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson deserves a fair chance.”  

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