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The views and perspectives contained in these Blogs are from individual contributors and external sources, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or position of the Cordoba Foundation of Geneva. The links are neither intended as an endorsement of particular publications nor the only source for the updates, but to connect to information in the public domain, for those interested in background or further details.

by Abdoulaye Bâ

The new violent intrusion of "jihadism" in the Sahel in the early 2000s has plunged the region into a new, atypical phase of insecurity, which is putting a strain on social cohesion in these countries. Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire and Cameroon, among others, have increasingly been hit in the last decade, and to varying degrees, by groups proclaiming "jihad". Beyond the questioning of the founding elements of the national pacts, the actors of this violence exploit community identities by invoking a religious reference, which makes the situation even more complex.

After several months of delay and negotiations, the Iraqi government is finally taking shape little by little. For the fourth time since the fall of Saddam Hussein regime, Iraqis were called to the polls on May 12 to elect the 329 members of parliament for a four-year term. Because of its political system, to obtain a majority bloc in the parliament, parties must form more or less formal coalitions and thus approve candidates for ministerial positions. However, since December, two different parliamentary blocs, though supposed to form a tacit alliance, have been waging a ruthless war to position their candidate for various ministerial positions.

The Cordoba Foundation of Geneva has a small and dedicated team of staff in Geneva and the field, with a variety of backgrounds and experience. We have worked on themes as diverse as community tensions in the Sahel; preventing violence and extremism through working with credible Muslim scholars; polarizations and tensions among Muslim actors with different religious references in the Middle East and Gulf regions; and building peace promotion capacities among journalists in East Africa. Our methodology is based on encouraging and facilitating dialogues, as a means of directly communicating with “the other”, discussing differences and similarities, and identifying common areas for collaborative work.

On 19 May 2018, in the University of Ibn Zohr in Agadir, violent confrontations between pro-independence Sahrawi and Amazigh Cultural Movement students led to the murder of Abderrahim Badri, a 24-year-old undergraduate law student. Another 30 students were arrested in the following days, as young people across the country struggled to come to terms with yet another unnecessary death in Moroccan universities.

The beginning of May 2018 was punctuated by elections in three countries of the Arab world, all seen as free and fair by international institutions, although some incidents were criticised. Legislative elections were held in Iraq and Lebanon, and Tunisians were called to the polls for municipal elections. With a record abstention rate in Tunisia (also disappointing in the other two countries), and suspicions of irregularities, or even fraud, in Iraq, it is nevertheless noteworthy that these elections were held in tense economic, political and social contexts, and contradicted some forecasts. These elections, while fragile, still represented hope for democratic change in a region that had been tormented for far too long.