Steven A. Cook

From the Potomac to the Euphrates

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

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Showing posts for "Egypt"

Drinking From the Nile

by Steven A. Cook
A view of the Nile from Zamalek (Photo by Steven A. Cook). A view of the Nile from Zamalek (Photo by Steven A. Cook).

There is an Egyptian saying that goes like this: “Once you drink from the Nile, you will come back again.” I first drank from the Nile in June 1993 and I have been coming back ever since. That said, I took an almost two-year hiatus from Egypt that lasted from April 2014 until last week. I stayed away for a variety of reasons, from the general—I was growing weary of airplanes and I ached for my daughters on long trips—to the specific—I needed to actually write the book I had been talking about for the previous few years, but also, quite frankly, out of fear. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Beirut’s Elections, Armenian Artisans, and Egyptian Buildings

by Steven A. Cook
A picture of a candidate for municipality elections is hung near displayed mirrors of an antique shop in Beirut, Lebanon (Alia Haju/Reuters). A picture of a candidate for municipality elections is hung near displayed mirrors of an antique shop in Beirut, Lebanon (Alia Haju/Reuters).

Habib Battah examines the intersection of new and old in Lebanese politics in the context of Beirut’s municipal elections.

Nektaria Petrou narrates her quest to find a renowned Armenian hand engraver in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Kurdish Linguistics, Egypt’s Repressive Complacency, and Music and Pluralism in Jordan

by Steven A. Cook
Journalists and activists protest against the restriction of press freedom and to demand the release of detained journalists, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters). Journalists and activists protest against the restriction of press freedom and to demand the release of detained journalists, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters).

Theotime Chabre explores the complexities of Kurdish linguistic diversity, explaining how limits in communication across the Kurdish nation can be both a hindrance and an opportunity. Read more »

This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is Saudi Land

by Steven A. Cook
Supporters of Egypt's army and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi dance and cheer as they celebrate the anniversary of Sinai Liberation Day in Cairo, Egypt (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters). Supporters of Egypt's army and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi dance and cheer as they celebrate the anniversary of Sinai Liberation Day in Cairo, Egypt (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters).

Today is Sinai Liberation Day. On April 25, 1982, the then-governor of the South Sinai governorate, Fouad Aziz Ghali, hoisted the Egyptian flag over Sharm el-Sheikh, in view of two islands called Tiran and Sanafir. The same day, former President Hosni Mubarak gave a speech before the People’s Assembly and laid wreaths at Egypt’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the graves of Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar al-Sadat. These solemn events marked the official end of Israel’s occupation of the Sinai (with the exception of a place called Taba that remained under Israeli control until 1989). Read more »

Weekend Reading: Comedy and the Islamic State, Protest and Failure in Egypt, and Insulting Erdogan

by Steven A. Cook
A view shows actors during the filming of the set of the television series, whose title is loosely translated as "State of Myths" in Baghdad (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters). A view shows actors during the filming of the set of the television series, whose title is loosely translated as "State of Myths" in Baghdad (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters).

Nathaniel Greenberg examines the use of comedy in Iraq to counter the narrative of the self-declared Islamic State.

One blogger expounds on the weaknesses and pitfalls of the Egyptian protest movement. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Egypt’s Saudi Islands, the Hezbollah Corporation, and Syria’s Alawites

by Steven A. Cook
A former presidential candidate and lawyer Khaled Ali shouts slogans against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the government during a demonstration protesting the government's decision to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters). A former presidential candidate and lawyer Khaled Ali shouts slogans against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the government during a demonstration protesting the government's decision to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters).

Maged Atiya reflects on the public reaction to Egypt’s transfer of the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, situated at the entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba, to Saudi Arabia. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Lights Out in Libya, Jordan’s Brothers, and Alaa’s Tax Shelters

by Steven A. Cook
A member of the media works on a staircase at the Rixos hotel during a power cut in Tripoli (Paul Hackett/Reuters). A member of the media works on a staircase at the Rixos hotel during a power cut in Tripoli (Paul Hackett/Reuters).

Naziha Arebi illuminates the daily life of Libyans in the shadows of electricity cuts through a series of photographs and conversations.

Osama Al Sharif ponders whether tensions between Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood and the government will lead to an outright ban on the group. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Smuggling in Syria, Marriage in Mosul, and Egypt’s Development Challenges

by Steven A. Cook
Iraqi soldiers launch artillery toward Islamic State militants on the outskirt of the Makhmour south of Mosul (Azad Lashkari/Reuters). Iraqi soldiers launch artillery toward Islamic State militants on the outskirt of the Makhmour south of Mosul (Azad Lashkari/Reuters).

Yasser Allawi interviews a Syrian smuggler, Abu Yazan, on the process of transporting refugees to Europe via Turkey.

Nawzat Shamdeen takes a look at marriage laws in Islamic State–controlled Mosul. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Remaking Turkey’s Southeast, Barzani Speaks, and Sisi’s Parliament

by Steven A. Cook
raqi Kurdistan region's President Massoud Barzani attends a news conference with Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Erbil, Iraq (Azad Lashkari/Reuters). raqi Kurdistan region's President Massoud Barzani attends a news conference with Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Erbil, Iraq (Azad Lashkari/Reuters).

Nicholas Glastonbury and Defne Kadioglu discuss the salient role of urban governance in the conflict between the Turkish government and its Kurdish southeast. Read more »

Egypt’s Black Market Blues

by Steven A. Cook
A customer counts his U.S. dollar money in a bank in Cairo, Egypt (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters). A customer counts his U.S. dollar money in a bank in Cairo, Egypt (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters).

Just as I was heading out the door yesterday, I received a message from my friend Timothy Kaldas with just two words: “They caved.” I knew exactly what he was referring to. The Central Bank of Egypt determined that it could no longer defend the Egyptian pound and devalued the currency a whopping 13 percent. You can now exchange a U.S. dollar at a bank in Cairo for about nine pounds, which is great for tourists, if there were any. It is about time Egyptian banking officials took this step, which immediately injected some confidence in the financial markets and among investors. It may seem beside the point to ask why it took them so long, but the answer to that question might tell observers something about what to expect next from Egypt’s economic policymakers. Read more »