At the IRF Summit


At the recent IRF summit that took place from June 28th through the 30th several concerns regarding the MENA region were raised. Some of the are listed below.

Algeria was the first country to be discussed. In its recent report USCIRF recommended that Algeria be placed on the Special Watch List for several reasons including the enforced closing of churches, the intimidation of Sufis and other minoity Muslim sects and the Apostasy and Blasphemy Laws.

One case that was highighted specifically was that of Hamid Soudad. He was convicted of Apostasy for converting from Islam to Christrianity. He was found guilty without having any legal representation. Several advocacy groups have actually organized a campaign to highlight his case before Algerian Independence Day on July 5th.

Iraq is another country of interest. In recent weeks we have seen the Shia Bloc in Parliament resign en masse throwing more chaos into the already unstable political system. The plight of Religious Minorities are still a concern. Proxies organized by Tehran continue to promote instablility as Turkey seeks to impose undue and unnecessary influence over the Kurdish region of Iraq. The Islamic State also is active in the Western Part of the Country along the border with Syrai as well.

Egypt is another concern. Islamic Militants roam the Sinal almost at will, The Coptic Community has seen some improvement but it feels like a one step forward two steps backwords. Another concern is over refugees. We know that there has been an concerted effort to refoul people back to Eritrea, However there are new concerns regarding Libyan Refugees in the Western Part of Egypt.

Although not specifically mentioned during the summit concerns still persist in other locations in the region. They include whether or not Libya will actually have Elections later on this year, The situation in Tunisia with the crackdown against the Judiciary is another situation to monitor as well. Of course Lebanon may also present a challenge in the near future due to the rampant instability there as well.

Israel with its inability to ensure a stable government will once again be heading to the polls. While imperfect there have been issues with some access to some of the Holiest Shrines in Christianity as well.


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Specialist in US Policy (Security, Assymetrical Operations and Business Development) towards Africa and Arab World (Washington DC – USA)

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