Is the coverage of Syria news or propaganda?, Asia’s fresh water is running scarce, The shining example of Ghana, Tragedy fails to stifle the good, At last, dialogue over Catalan independence

A roundup of global commentary for the Jan. 02 & 09, 2017 weekly magazine.

Sunday Alamba/AP
A supporter of Ghanaian President-elect Nana Akufo-Addo celebrates presidential election victory in Accra, Ghana, Dec. 10, 2016.


The Independent / London

Is the coverage of Syria news or propaganda?

“There was always a glaring contradiction at the heart of the position of the international media: on the one hand it was impossibly dangerous for foreign journalists to enter opposition-held areas of Syria, but at the same time independent activists were apparently allowed to operate freely by some of the most violent and merciless movements on earth...,” writes Patrick Cockburn. “But the threat was just as great for a local person living under insurgent rule who criticised their actions or ideas.... News organisations have ended up being spoon-fed by jihadis and their sympathisers who make it impossible for independent observers to visit areas they control. By regurgitating information from such tainted sources, the media gives al-Qaeda type groups every incentive to go on killing and abducting journalists in order to create and benefit from a news vacuum they can fill themselves.”

The Japan Times / Tokyo

Asia’s fresh water is running scarce

“Asia, the world’s largest and fastest-developing continent, has less fresh water per capita than any other continent...,” writes Brahma Chellaney. “Asia’s sharpening competition over transnationally shared freshwater resources holds strategic ramifications just as ominous as those relating to maritime territorial disputes.... Water has become an instrument of power in interstate relations.... In the coming years, water scarcity is likely to become Asia’s defining crisis.... To underpin peace and cooperation, Asian states must manage transnational water resources on the basis of transparency, collaboration, sharing and dispute settlement.”

The East African / Nairobi, Kenya

The shining example of Ghana

“I honestly did not expect [President] Yahya Jammeh to ... go back on his word to respect the results of the Gambian elections...,” writes Jenerali Ulimwengu. “When this saga was unfolding I was in Ghana ... to act as an observer of the Ghanaian elections.... In short order, the incumbent President John Dramani Mahama conceded defeat and congratulated his rival, Nana Akufo-Addo.... We all celebrated this development, which confirmed the high level of civility in Ghanaian society. And that was what was on my mind all that time, the civility of Ghanaians.... Our rulers across the continent have to render their account before this evidence. Ghana trumps their countries hands down.”

Arab News / Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Tragedy fails to stifle the good

“[The] atrocious attacks that targeted civilians at a Christmas market in Berlin and Muslims praying in a mosque in Zurich resemble two sides of the same coin of hatred...,” writes Faisal Abbas. “[Dec. 19] was an exceptionally sad day, given that on the same night Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was brutally assassinated in a chilling televised scene.... [Yet] both Turkey and Russia have shown tremendous maturity and self-restraint.... In Switzerland and across Europe, many took to social media to show solidarity with Muslim fellow citizens.... We have seen plenty of the bad and ugly rise to power this year, so let us pray – and work hard – to ensure that 2017 brings in a bit more of the good!”

El País / Madrid

At last, dialogue over Catalan independence

“Many years have gone by without a single political initiative concerning Catalonia...,” states an editorial. “At last, the new government of Mariano Rajoy has promised to take the subject of Catalonia seriously.... This new chapter must be defined by a dialogue without barriers.... The dialogue needs to be serious, so as not to disappoint the ... expectations.... It needs to be realistic and generous, searching for ... resolutions (in areas such as investment, finance, and language), tangible and relevant ones.... It has to lower the temperature and bring about a structured and faithful negotiation, rather than looking to score propaganda or media victories.”

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