Cutting off communication, no more street protests, improving Parliament, projections for India

 A roundup of global commentary for the Jan. 22, 2018 weekly magazine.

Anti-riot Iranian police prevent university students from joinng other protesters in Tehran, Iran, on Dec. 30, 2017.

The National / Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Cutting off communication

“Connections and conversations matter all year round, so it is easy to understand why some people became frustrated after learning that Skype had been blocked in the [United Arab Emirates],” states an editorial. “The move, made a fortnight ago, is the second time the service has been suspended and follows a period of confusion over the regulations.... In a country where internet usage exceeds 90 per cent of the population, being part of a global conversation means being connected.... Open and smart communication channels will be a vital factor in building smarter cities. While developing our own applications and software is welcome, we must also champion the free movement of information and expertise.” 

The New Times / Kigali, Rwanda

No more street protests

“One ... disruptive technological influence in recent times is social media...,” writes Joseph Rwagatare. “It is increasingly taking the place of street demonstrations as a means of protest or exerting pressure to effect change and has become the most effective campaign tool for almost any cause.... [G]overnments: don’t close space for social media. Open it more. You can even provoke debate of contentious issues so as to gauge the public mood, or even as a way of getting the issue out of the way. This way you can even take charge of the narrative.... [F]orget the street. Get all those crowds tapping away and they will raise such ‘noise’ that will force those you want to drive out of power to listen, if only to get some peace.” 

The Jamaica Gleaner / Kingston, Jamaica

Improving Parliament

“Even though the majority of citizens may be more interested in the actions of parliamentarians outside of Gordon House as it relates to services provided in their communities, their law-making role cannot be overlooked for it is key in keeping the executive in line...,” states an editorial. “As public-sector workers ... press for better pay and improved working conditions, there is a steady chorus of voices demanding that they put in better performance to justify their demands. We also need to demand no less from our parliamentary representatives.” 

The Hindu / Chennai, India

Projections for India

“What awaits the Asia-Pacific in 2018?” writes M.K. Narayanan. “Prospects appear, if anything, bleaker than was the case in 2017.... The region is today an area of intense geostrategic and geo-economic competition. China is the rising economic and military power in Asia today.... The future of the rest of ... Asia in 2018 is again dependent on how the strategic triangle of state relations between China, Pakistan and India plays out, as also the extent to which events in West Asia deteriorate.... Again, 2018 holds out little prospect of an improvement in India-Pakistan relations.... In its neighbourhood, India must be prepared during 2018 for a further deterioration of the situation in already disturbed Afghanistan. The Afghan state is in real danger of imploding, and this situation could worsen.” 

Deutsche Welle / Bonn, Germany

Rebellion in Iran

“It is the winter of discontent in Iran,” writes Matthias von Hein. “A young population is rebelling.... But is this a revolution? One that could herald the end of Iran’s theocratic system? It’s doubtful. The strengths of this movement are also its weaknesses. Given the lack of a clearly recognizable leadership and the decentralized, spontaneous nature of the protests, the regime can’t simply arrest the figureheads and snuff out the revolt. But conversely, aside from the calls for better social conditions, there’s no clear agenda – just contradictory demands.... Today’s protests are highlighting the cracks in the establishment. Hardliners and moderate forces – there aren’t really any true moderate or reform-oriented forces in Tehran’s circles of power – are vying for power and influence.” 

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