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Russia in Syria is alarming; Afghanistan still needs help; North Korea's missile tests; cybersecurity; leadership in Greece

A round-up of the global commentary for the Oct. 5, 2015, weekly magazine.

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In this image made from video provided by Hadi Al-Abdallah, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, smoke rises after airstrikes in Kafr Nabel of the Idlib province, western Syria, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. Russian jets carried out a second day of airstrikes in Syria Thursday, but there were conflicting claims about whether they were targeting Islamic State and Al Qaeda militants or trying to shore up the defenses of President Bashar al-Assad.

Hadi Al-Abdallah via AP

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Ottawa Citizen / Ottawa
Russia propping up Syria is a cause for alarm
“It is frankly disturbing that some elements in Washington are starting to clutch at the straw of supporting a Russia-backed Assad regime as a counter to [Islamic State], and as an alleged alternative to the lack of a better choice (Putin and Assad or chaos – really?!),” writes Eric Morse, a former Canadian diplomat. “For one thing, that leaves out Turkey as an actor, and they are members of NATO, have regional ambitions of their own, wish to see the end of Assad and are neighbours of Russia. But if the ‘Putin/Assad or chaos’ point of view gains ground, it will nicely legitimize the two strongmen’s view – already shared by too many other strongmen – that violence applied with impunity is its own justification.”

Dawn / Karachi, Pakistan
There is much work to do still in Afghanistan
“Despite the more than a decade-long, exorbitantly expensive US-led counternarcotics operation in Afghanistan, poppy cultivation in that country has not declined. On the contrary, it is expanding at an alarming pace, from the militant-infested southern region – which traditionally led in this activity – to the relatively stable northern and western regions of the country...,” writes Sujeet Kumar Sarkar. “Opium profits fuel insurgency, but so does the act of destroying the farmers’ poppy crop. A more patient approach was required to eliminate poppy from both the minds as well as the fields of the farmers. Policy experts should have pressed into service the extensive network of democratically elected, village level community development councils to bring down poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.”

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The Asahi Shimbun / Tokyo
Missile tests will hurt North Korea’s interest
“North Korean leadership should realize that the only way for its isolated country to obtain real benefits is by promoting the diplomatic dialogue they have managed to keep open with Japan and South Korea and starting talks with other countries as well...,” states an editorial. “North Korea justifies its nuclear tests by citing what it describes as the United States’ antagonistic policy toward the communist regime as a reason. If Pyongyang really wants Washington to drop its antagonistic stance toward it, however, the secluded regime has no choice but to abandon its nuclear program.... Instead of mimicking [Kim Jong-il’s] dangerous brinkmanship, Kim Jong Un should carefully ... consider what is in his country’s best interest.”

Xinhuanet / Beijing
China and US should find common ground on cybersecurity
“[I]n safeguarding cyber security, China and the United States, two pivotal players on the realm, [should focus on cooperation rather than contradiction]...,” writes Liu Yue. “However, some U.S. agencies and media have never stopped preaching about the so-called Chinese cyber attacks.... China has shown its willingness to tap potential of internet governance with other countries, but any major progress on the issue rests on Washington’s action.... [I]f the United States could exhibit its sincerity and take more real concrete steps in protecting cyber security with China, rather than level groundless allegations against China, it will bear positive significance for bilateral ties and for a better and improved Internet.”

Ekathimerini / Neo Faliro, Greece
Where is Greece’s strong leadership?
“If there’s one thing that has become evident after [the Sept. 20] elections, it’s that Greece’s so-called elite is clearly out of touch with large parts of society...,” writes Alexis Papachelas. “The breakout of the crisis and the rise of the ‘indignant movement’ forged a crisis of confidence between a large number of Greeks and the representatives of the country’s institutions.... The representatives of the traditional parties are faced with a double challenge. First, they need to uproot the rotten, systemic element from inside.... Then they must reach out to that part of society which is moving under the radar.... We used to have a strong leadership that would pull the country forward – sometimes against its will. And that, now, is nowhere in sight.”