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Highlights from the world's press

Compiled by Ravi Agrawal for CNN
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(CNN) -- The assassination of Lebanese cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel and its ramifications for Middle East politics continues to dominate the editorial pages of many major world papers. The Guardian in the UK says Gemayal's murder is "a brutal gesture of contempt for the hundreds of thousands who took to the streets after the murder of Rafiq Hariri last year, and seemed to have taken control of Lebanon."

"It is an act of defiance against the international effort to help Lebanon establish democracy and the rule of law. This murder says to the international community: Don't think you can intervene on behalf of good people to protect them from violence. Violence is normal. Democracy? It takes only a murder or two to tilt the balance of power, and murder is so much simpler than campaigning for votes."

The Washington Post says "a disease is eating away at the Middle East," with the idea that the only political determinant in the Arab world is raw force -- the power of physical intimidation.

"The sickness must end. The people of the Middle East are destroying themselves, literally and figuratively, with the politics of assassination... Those who imagined they could stop the assassins' little guns with their big guns -- the United States and Israel come to mind -- have been undone by the howling gale of violence. In trying to fight the killers, they began to make their own arguments for assassination and torture. That should have been a sign that something had gone wrong."

Henry Kissinger writes in International Herald Tribune that the impact on order in the Middle East will be "catastrophic" if Iran fills the current political vacuum.

"Within Iraq, Shiite forces are led by men who had been trained in Tehran and spent decades of their lives there. In Lebanon, Hezbollah, trained and guided by Iran, is the strongest military force. In the face of this looming Shiite belt and its appeal to the Shiite population in northeast Saudi Arabia and along the Gulf, attitudes in the Sunni states -- Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia -- and the Gulf states range from unease to incipient panic."

Be good, take cash

A New York Times editorial lauds the decision of Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim to start an annual $5 million prize for an African head of state who was freely elected, turned over power to a freely elected successor and governed well while in office. But while the initiative creates the perfect incentive to not be corrupt, much internal effort is required to reach its goal of reducing rampant corruption in sub-Saharan Africa.

"The prize increases the appeal of leaving office, and helps presidents feel less need to pilfer their way into a comfortable retirement. It will also give them an incentive to improve the lot of their people. Its limitation is that it mainly affects the behavior of the chief executive. Addressing big-fish corruption is not a full solution. Even a puritanical leader can run a very corrupt government, especially if he suffers from the misimpression that his own probity is enough... Africa, like elsewhere, needs more than an Ibrahim prize. It needs a permanent source of political pressure from citizens and business groups -- not just general disgust, but advocacy for specific reforms. Corruption always carries its own powerful lobby. Honest government needs one as well."

African papers have almost unanimously hailed the Ibrahim Prize as a hope for Africa's future.

Nigeria's This Day says the award could not have come at a better time.

"Mo Ibrahim rightly hit the nail on the head when he explained that with good governance, Africa with its enormous human and natural resources would not need the much-sought-after aid from the rest of the world. All that is needed, he stressed, is the need to remove corruption and improve governance in the continent."

Botswana's Voice hopes the prize winner's will pump most of the money back into social development programs.

"While I don't believe we should get too worked up about giving huge cash prizes to our leaders, I do think anything that will get people to take a closer look at how well politicians are serving the people has to be a step in the right direction."

The future of Iraq?

Explosions from five powerful car bombs and a mortar shell tore through crowded intersections and marketplaces in the teeming Shiite district of Sadr City Thursday, killing at least 144 people and wounding 206. Weighing in on the debate on whether U.S. forces should leave Iraq, The New Yorker says the argument that Iraq would be better off on its own is a "self-serving illusion that seems to offer Americans a win-win solution to a lose-lose problem."

"It is true that the presence of American troops is a source of great tension and violence in Iraq, and that overwhelming numbers of Iraqis want them to leave. But it is also true that wherever American troop levels have been reduced -- in Falluja and Mosul in 2004, in Tal Afar in 2005, in Baghdad in 2006 -- security has deteriorated... That is why so many Iraqis, after expressing their ardent desire to see the last foreign troops leave their country, quickly add, 'But not until they clean up the mess they made.'"

The Boston Globe echoes the argument, saying by disbanding the military and the governing bureaucracy, the U.S. will let go of the very tools that might have ensured security.

"Whatever is proposed in Washington has minimal hope of being implemented successfully in Iraq. The United States may be kidding itself, but it is not fooling the Iraqis, whether they are militia, insurgents, outside terrorists, or the government. Assertions by the administration that Americans need to 'support our troops' or continue to seek 'victory' are not solving the problem."


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The funeral of Pierre Gemayel.

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