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In many ways, Qatar has benefited from its neighbors’ blockade, Qatar’s Arab neighbors should embrace Al Jazeera, Iran’s #MeToo moment begins, To turn plastic pollution awareness into change, we must act, Every one of us should refuse what we can’t reuse

A roundup of global commentary for the June 18, 2018 weekly magazine.

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A mosque along a coastline in Doha, Qatar, on June 15, 2017, 10 days after the beginning of the now more than one-year-long land, sea, and air blockade imposed on the wealthy nation by its Arab neighbors, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt.

Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters/File

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Al Jazeera / Doha, Qatar

In many ways, Qatar has benefited from its neighbors’ blockade

“When the blockade was imposed on Qatar on June 5, 2017, few expected it to last as long as it has,” writes Sultan Barakat. “One year on, what started as an expression of frustration with, and attempt to change, Qatar’s independent foreign policy, has, in fact, deepened the political divisions and, if anything, made it more difficult to envisage a return to Gulf unity. Today, nobody can deny that overall the blockade has had a negative impact on all concerned, including Saudi Arabia, which ironically ended up diminishing the very same Gulf security it professes to protect from an expansionist Iran.... Qatar has demonstrated an impressive ability to turn the crisis into an opportunity in terms of improving food security, social cohesion and economic sustainability....” 

The Manila Times / Manila

Qatar’s Arab neighbors should embrace, not spurn, Al Jazeera

“In an expansive article in The Manila Times [June 5], Ambassador Ali Bin Ibrahim Al-Malki of the State of Qatar wrote that his country has weathered one year of the blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt on June 5, 2017...,” writes Francisco Tatad. “Even the blockading countries will have to agree with this assessment. It’s time for the Arab Quartet to lift it.... Despite the provocations, Qatar refused to retaliate.... With respect to Al Jazeera, which is now the No. 1 Arab news channel, reaching more than 140 countries ... there is no chance Qatar will consider shutting it down.... Gulf countries should share it as a common resource to help them deepen their understanding of the world around them....” 

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Tehran Times / Tehran, Iran

Iran’s #MeToo moment begins

“Following a schoolmaster’s sexual misconduct at a private school in western Tehran some Iranians started using the #MeToo on twitter since [May 30], sharing their experiences of harassment and assault,” writes Maryam Qarehgozlou. “On May 27, some 40 parents filed a complaint against a schoolmaster who has allegedly displayed some sexually harassing behaviors at a private school in district two of Tehran. The schoolmaster was soon detained and the school is shut down, maybe for good.... The fact that the Tehran school scandal has prompted some Iranians to recount their traumatic experiences of sexual assaults and harassment, which mostly had happened during their childhood, is a baby step towards responding to this violence more effectively by taking timely measures and adopting more restrictive laws.” 

Deutsche Welle / Bonn, Germany

To turn plastic pollution awareness into change, we must act

“People seem to finally be waking up to the global issue of plastic pollution – it was the focus of this year’s Earth Day, and also World Environment Day in 2018 has the theme beating plastic pollution,” writes Sonya Angelica Diehn. “The unfortunate recent end of a whale in Thailand provides a timely illustration of the problem. It died with 80 plastic bags in its stomach.... Despite bans on plastic bags in some African countries, and a planned ban on other single-use plastic items in the European Union, the sad truth is that the world is probably still pretty far from ‘peak plastic’.... [C]an the growing momentum around the topic be harnessed to transform this trend into real change? Well, that depends on you.” 

Jamaica Observer / Kingston, Jamaica

Every one of us should refuse what we can’t reuse

“Anyone who read the United Nations (UN) report released [June 5] in observance of World Environment Day and was not stunned by the data must either be extremely callous or not human at all,” states an editorial. “The report provides bald facts about how human beings are, as the UN so succinctly put it, choking the world on trash.... We note that several countries in the Caribbean and Latin America are using taxes, bans and technological innovation to restrict the production and consumption of plastic bags.... However, it should not have had to come to this, as every resident of every country should consider it his/her duty to heed the UN’s appeal to ‘reject single-use plastics’ and ‘refuse what you can’t re-use’.”