Bridges of dialogue

The ojcos foundation promotes understanding in Iraq

By David Müller

Working together for peace: The role of the ojcos foundation in Iraq

As the ojcos foundation, we are committed to a peaceful future. Our special focus is on religious minorities in Iraq. We have deep ties to the country. We understand the cultural and historical nuances. Through our strong network, we build bridges. This is how we promote social cohesion.

Building bridges through dialogue: The National Dialogue Project

We work closely with the European Institute for Dialogue and Development (EIDE). Our commitment is primarily focused on the “National Dialogue”. This project was launched in 2019 to help stabilize Iraq. Therefore, our main objective is to bridge social and religious divides.

A mission of political importance: European Delegation in Baghdad

Earlier this year, I was part of a European delegation. We went to Baghdad at the invitation of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani. This invitation shows how important dialogue is to the government. In addition, the government was committed to supporting our mission. They provided us with high-level contacts.

When we arrived at the airport, we were met by the Prime Minister’s Office. We were then taken in limousines to the guest house. The office took care of our transportation and security in Baghdad.

Supporting Infrastructure and Social Cohesion

Dr. Qahtan Al-Kaabi gave us an expert tour of Baghdad. He is one of the Prime Minister’s closest advisors. We visited major infrastructure projects. A newly opened bridge was particularly impressive. It connects two major traffic arteries and was also built in 88 days. This shows the efforts of the government under al-Sudani. The goal is to improve the quality of life and build confidence.

A highlight was a dinner with Grand Ayatollah Faqih Seyyed Hussein Ismail al-Sadr. He stressed the importance of dialogue. “We need dialogue to understand each other, not to change each other,” he said. This is in line with the mission of our Foundation. We believe that understanding and respect are the foundation of peace.

Paving the way for change: Workshops and roundtables to strengthen civil society

The first roundtable was held at the Prime Minister’s Guest House. The topic was “The Collaborative Impact of International Organizations and Local Civil Society in Iraq, Embracing National Laws and Cultural Values”. About 40 representatives of civil society organizations participated. They shared their experiences and concerns in two sessions. The members of our delegation shared their experiences. They stimulated the discussion without imposing guidelines. Two advisors to the Prime Minister also answered questions from the participants.

The high proportion of women – more than 50% – was remarkable. The openness of the discussion was also remarkable. Even the government representatives were open to critical reflection. These factors and the gratitude of the participants show the success of the project.

The second round table took place in collaboration with the Communication and Media Commission. The topic was “The Media, Our World, and the Formation of Public Opinion”. Participants included the Chairman of the Commission and Iraqi media experts. Deans of media schools and heads of departments were also present. The discussion was open. One focus was on encouraging foreign media to open offices in Iraq.

Another highlight was a workshop at the parliament. The title: “Supplementation and Amendment Suggestions for the Iraqi Constitution of 2005”. Mohsen al-Mandalawi, the acting speaker of parliament, chaired the workshop. More than 20 members of parliament attended. Among them were the head of the legal committee and a senior advisor to the president.

Mohsen Al-Mandalawi
The acting speaker of parliament Mohsen al-Mandalawi (center) next to Alaa al-Bahadli (left), chairman of the EIDE

Building trust through open dialogue: A Foundation for Iraq’s Future

The openness of Iraqi leaders is a sign of trust. They are willing to learn. Events like this are small but important steps. They foster cooperation in Iraqi society and build bridges. We will continue to support such events wherever we can.

Further background articles on the topic