Steven A. Cook

From the Potomac to the Euphrates

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

Weekend Reading: Intervention in Syria, Yemen’s National Dialogue, and Options for Bahrain

by Steven A. Cook Friday, August 30, 2013
Abu al-Taib, the leader of Ahbab Al-Mustafa Battalion, demonstrates to female members as he holds a gun during a military training in a mosque in the Seif El Dawla neighbourhood in Aleppo (Muzaffar Salman/Courtesy Reuters).

Robin Yassin-Kassab discusses the complexity of the situation in Syria as the US contemplates action against the use of chemical weapons.

Kevin Alexander Davis argues that the national dialogue in Yemen is simply legitimizing the status quo rather than listening to popular demand. Read more »

Turkey and Egypt: When Worlds Collide

by Steven A. Cook Monday, August 26, 2013
Turkey's Prime Minister and leader of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Tayyip Erdogan (R) and former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi greet the audience during AK Party congress in Ankara (Kayhan Ozer/Courtesy Reuters).

Over this past weekend one of my Economist-devouring, Washington Post-reading, New York Times-gobbling buddies who does not work in the field of foreign affairs asked me, “Hey, what’s up with Erdogan and the Turks?”  I’ve been asked this question so many times this summer by so many people that I have lost count.  It’s been a long summer in Turkey, starting in May with the Gezi Park protests that revealed a depth of anger toward Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which seemed to surprise the Turkish leadership.  Then in early August there were the Ergenekon verdicts, which brought to a close a five year investigation and trial in an alleged plot to undermine Erdogan and his government.  The trials may be over (excluding appeals), but the controversy around Ergenekon continues.  In between these two bookends have been the deteriorating situation in Syria, the coup in Egypt, a slowing economy, and the beginning of a peace process with the Kurdistan Workers Party.  The combined pressure of all of the events seems to have gotten to the prime minister who has been bullying domestic critics, engaging in conspiracies about “interest rate lobbies” intent on bringing down the Turkish economy, and generally finger-pointing at everyone but himself for the difficulties Turkey now confronts at home and abroad. Read more »

Egypt by Egyptians: Is This the End of an Era for the Muslim Brotherhood?

by Steven A. Cook Thursday, August 22, 2013
Policemen stand guard inside a room of the al-Fath mosque when supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi exchanged gunfire with security forces inside the mosque in Cairo (Muhammad Hamed/Courtesy Reuters).

Wael Nawara, writing for Al Monitor, discusses the Egyptian interim government’s threat to place the Muslim Brotherhood on the terrorist list, claiming that this could be the end of an era for the organization.

Egypt by Egyptians: Egypt’s False Dichotomies

by Steven A. Cook Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi shout slogans during a protest outside Al-Fath Mosque in Ramses Square, in Cairo (Youssef Boudlal/Courtesy Reuters).

Rania al Malky, writing on Egypt Monoclecriticizes the false dichotomies of Egypt, arguing that the long-term consequences of the narratives will haunt the country for generations.

Egypt by Egyptians: The Fall of a Revolution–or Can It Be Saved?

by Steven A. Cook Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Riot police and army personnel take their positions during clashes with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi around the area of Rabaa Adawiya square, where they are camping, in Cairo (Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters).

Nadia el-Awady writes that Egypt’s destructive battle for power overshadows the ethos of the January 25, 2011 revolution and makes establishing democracy in Egypt almost impossible.

Egypt by Egyptians

by Steven A. Cook Saturday, August 17, 2013
A supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi holds up his photo while standing at the top of lamp posts. The poster reads "We are all with legitimacy" (Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Courtesy Reuters).

I’ll be disconnected most of the coming week, enjoying some downtime with my wife and daughters. With everything that is going on in Egypt, however, I’ve asked my research associate, Alex Brock, and my research intern, Amr Leheta, to help me find and then post each day an interesting article on Egypt written by an Egyptian.  I hope you find our selections useful and interesting during this critical moment in Egypt’s history.  Cheers! Read more »

Mubarak Still Rules

by Steven A. Cook Thursday, August 15, 2013
Protesters cheer with Egyptian flags and a banner of army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, seen between former presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat, as they gather for a mass protest to support the army in front of the presidential palace in Cairo (Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters).

This article was originally published here at on Wednesday, August 14, 2013. 

My friend, the late Hassan El Sawaf, was correct. When I spoke to him on the evening of February 11, 2011, he was exuberant. After years of a lonely and personal struggle against Hosni Mubarak’s rule, the dictator was suddenly gone. A new era had begun. The prospects for democracy had never seemed so bright. Read more »

Egypt, Wake Up!

by Steven A. Cook Monday, August 12, 2013
Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi listen to a speech during a protest in Cairo (Suhaib Salem/Courtesy Reuters).

Egypt, Wake Up!

In recent weeks I have written a bit about how developments in Egypt are reminiscent of the 1950s.  Over the last five weeks, the historical parallels have been, at times, uncanny to the Free Officers’ crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood beginning in October 1954.  I stand by that work, but now I am beginning to believe that in at least one respect, the summer of 2013 is a lot like the summer of 2011.  Those who have been following Egypt will remember two years ago when activists staged a the three week-long Tahrir sit-in and there were seemingly endless “Fridays of ….” including: Read more »

Weekend Reading: The Rouhani Meter, Egypt’s Constitutional Committee, and Turkey’s Verdicts

by Steven A. Cook Friday, August 9, 2013
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi walk with their families in the sit-in area of Rab'a al- Adawiya Square, where they are camping, on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday after the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, in Cairo August 8, 2013 (Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters).

Presenting the Rouhani Meter, taken after the Egyptian Morsi Meter, which evaluates the new Iranian president’s first one hundred days in office.

Mada Masr’s overview of the criteria for the composition of the committee tasked with amending Egypt’s 2012 constitution. Read more »