Steven A. Cook

From the Potomac to the Euphrates

Cook examines developments in the Middle East and their resonance in Washington.

Turkey Is No Longer a Reliable Ally

by Steven A. Cook Friday, August 12, 2016
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters). Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters).

This article was originally published here in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, August 11, 2016.

The meeting this week between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin and their vow to expand bilateral relations is the latest sign of deteriorating U.S.-Turkish relations since Turkey’s failed coup last month. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Turkey’s Coups, Iraq’s Descent, and Saudi Arabia’s Jews

by Steven A. Cook Friday, August 5, 2016
A supporter of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves a Turkish flag during a pro-government protest in Cologne, Germany (Vincent Kessler/Reuters). A supporter of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves a Turkish flag during a pro-government protest in Cologne, Germany (Vincent Kessler/Reuters).

Ayse Zarakol highlights how Western and Turkish observers have interpreted the recent failed coup in Turkey in different ways. Read more »

Turkey’s Failed Coup and the United States

by Steven A. Cook Monday, August 1, 2016
Members of Patriotic Party shout slogans as they demonstrate against the visit of U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford in front of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara (Umit Bektas/Reuters). Members of Patriotic Party shout slogans as they demonstrate against the visit of U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford in front of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara (Umit Bektas/Reuters).

Ever since Turkey’s failed coup, the pro-government media has pointed the finger at the United States for actually planning the military intervention. It is not just the media, however. The leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (quoted below) and a number of government figures have all insinuated that the failed coup was carried out with Washington’s support and/or planning. This week, a Turkish parliamentary delegation is visiting Washington, DC, and New York City to press the Turkish government’s case on the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, the Turkish cleric who resides in Saylorsburg, PA, whom the Turks are alleging Washington colluded with in the failed coup. The delegation would likely get a more serious hearing in the United States if influential parts of the Turkish press and political leaders did not insist that Washington was responsible. Have a look… Read more »

Weekend Reading: Immigration in the Emirates, North and South Yemen, and Egypt’s Copts

by Steven A. Cook Friday, July 29, 2016
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi greets Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II, head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo (Handout/Reuters). Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi greets Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II, head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo (Handout/Reuters).

Sultan Al Qassemi shares stories of immigration and citizenship that helped shape the United Arab Emirates today. Read more »

How Erdogan Made Turkey Authoritarian Again

by Steven A. Cook Thursday, July 21, 2016
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the members of his ruling AK Party, as he stands in front of the portraits of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, and himself during a meeting at his party headquarters in Ankara (Umit Bektas/Reuters). Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the members of his ruling AK Party, as he stands in front of the portraits of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, and himself during a meeting at his party headquarters in Ankara (Umit Bektas/Reuters).

This article was originally published here in the Atlantic on Thursday, July 21, 2016.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. In October 2004, the European Commission offered Turkey a formal invitation to begin negotiations for membership in that exclusive club of democracies, the European Union. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), which had been in power for just two years at the time, hailed the commission’s offer as validation of its self-described Muslim Democrat worldview. Read more »

Where the Turkish Military Fails, Egypt’s Succeeds

by Steven A. Cook Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan celebrate after soldiers involved in the coup surrendered on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul (Yagiz Karahan/Reuters). Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan celebrate after soldiers involved in the coup surrendered on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul (Yagiz Karahan/Reuters).

This article was originally published here on ForeignAffairs.com on Tuesday, July 19, 2016.

In a half-decade of extraordinary moments in the Middle East, images of citizens swarming tanks and other military vehicles have been among the most arresting. Within the emerging iconography of the era are photos from early July 2013 that capture overjoyed Egyptians celebrating that the military had emerged from its barracks to depose the country’s elected president, Mohammed Morsi, ending the Muslim Brotherhood’s year-long experiment in governance. The intervention reaffirmed the military’s prestige, influence, and authority in the Egyptian political system. Last Friday night, similar scenes played out in the streets of Istanbul and Ankara. Instead of joy, however, Turks were outraged that members of the military sought to depose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a politician who has been winning elections as mayor of Istanbul, prime minister of Turkey, and head of state since 1994. The attempted coup failed, a purge is underway, and the Turkish armed forces—the second largest military in NATO—is in chaos. How was it that the Egyptian officers managed to do what that one faction in the Turkish military could not, especially given Turkey’s extensive history of coups? The answer lies in the interventions themselves and the underlying worldview that served as the basis of the officers’ apparent power. Read more »