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"

Weekend Reading and Watching: Zarif in NY, Daily Life in Damascus, and Science in the Middle East

by Steven A. Cook
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) speaks with Washington Post journalist David Ignatius at the New York University (NYU) Center on International Cooperation in New York (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters). Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) speaks with Washington Post journalist David Ignatius at the New York University (NYU) Center on International Cooperation in New York (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters).

Iranian FM Mohammad Zarif answers questions at New York University on the recent nuclear framework, terrorism, and more.

Rima Ayoubi talks about day to day difficulties she faces in Damascus. Read more »

Washington and Cairo: Goodbye My Love, Goodbye

by Steven A. Cook
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends the opening meeting of the Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters). Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends the opening meeting of the Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Last Tuesday afternoon the National Security Council announced that the Obama administration was releasing the long-delayed shipments of M1A1 tank kits, Harpoon missiles, and F-16 fighter jets to the Egyptian armed forces. The decision proved to be immediately controversial and was swiftly denounced on social media as “back to business as usual” with the Egyptians. It certainly seems that way. Reportedly, the administration based its decision on Egypt’s own deteriorating security situation, which has coincided with wars raging in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The regional political environment may be novel, but the White House’s rationale—security—is reminiscent of a time in the not so distant past when Washington only raised Egypt’s dismal human rights record in a perfunctory way. The most important things then (and now) were keeping the Suez Canal open, the Islamists down, and the peace with Israel secure. Yet for all of the apparent continuities in Washington’s approach to Egypt’s president, from Hosni Mubarak to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, it is not back to business as usual, and that’s not because the administration will be cutting off Cairo’s access to cash flow financing—a credit card for weapons—in fiscal year 2018. Rather, it is not business as usual because business as usual is not really an option. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Wasting Capital on a New Capital, Jihadism in Tunisia, and Israel’s Election

by Steven A. Cook
A model of a planned new capital for Egypt is displayed for investors during the final day of Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) in Sharm el-Sheikh (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters). A model of a planned new capital for Egypt is displayed for investors during the final day of Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) in Sharm el-Sheikh (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Khaled Fahmy criticizes the Egyptian government’s plan to invest money in building a new capital rather than fixing Cairo’s endemic problems.

Simon Cordall investigates the social and intellectual appeal of jihadism in Tunisia. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Egypt’s Invest-A-Thon 2015

by Steven A. Cook
(L-R) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Jordanian King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meet on the sidelines of the Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters). (L-R) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Jordanian King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meet on the sidelines of the Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters).

Watch the latest advertisement for the 2015 Egypt Economic Development Conference held in Sharm el-Sheikh from March 13 to March 15.

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Egypt Ziad Bahaa-Eldin writes that the high expectations surrounding the conference poses five challenges for the government. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Erdogan and Davutoglu, Egypt’s Prisons, and Negotiating with Assad?

by Steven A. Cook
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is seen during the filming of an interview with the BBC, in Damascus (Sana Sana/Courtesy Reuters). Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is seen during the filming of an interview with the BBC, in Damascus (Sana Sana/Courtesy Reuters).

Ismet Berkan examines how Turkey’s upcoming parliamentary elections might affect the relationship between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Sisi Speaks, Libya’s Copts, and Vengeance in Jordan

by Steven A. Cook
Jordan's King Abdullah (L) offers his condolences to Safi al-Kasaesbeh, the father of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, at the headquarters of the family's clan in the city of Karak (Petra News Agency/Courtesy Reuters). Jordan's King Abdullah (L) offers his condolences to Safi al-Kasaesbeh, the father of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, at the headquarters of the family's clan in the city of Karak (Petra News Agency/Courtesy Reuters).

Read Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s full interview with Der Spiegel. Read more »

Revolutionizing Religion in Sisi’s Egypt

by Guest Blogger for Steven A. Cook
An Egyptian Sufi Muslim practices ritualized Zikr (invocation) to celebrate "Mawlid al-Nabawi" or the birth of Prophet Mohammad in Al Azhar district, old Cairo (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters). An Egyptian Sufi Muslim practices ritualized Zikr (invocation) to celebrate "Mawlid al-Nabawi" or the birth of Prophet Mohammad in Al Azhar district, old Cairo (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

This blog post was written by my research associate, Amr Leheta.

“We need a religious revolution!” Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi declared those words a month ago as he addressed senior religious leaders from al-Azhar University and elsewhere while Egyptians celebrated the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The speech was widely applauded in Egypt, particularly as it opened an ideological front to the battle against the Islamist violence that has troubled the country since the summer of 2013. His words seem especially significant after last week’s attack on security forces in the Sinai Peninsula that killed at least thirty and wounded many more. However, before Sisi is praised any more as a visionary and a reformer, observers should understand that Egypt and Sisi may not have the capacity to carry out much reform in Islamic thinking. Read more »

Weekend Reading: The Failure of January 25, Beirut’s Barbershops, and Zajal In Lebanon

by Steven A. Cook
A barber shaves Mohamed Ali from south Lebanon sheltering at a school in Beirut (Jamal Saidi/Courtesy Reuters). A barber shaves Mohamed Ali from south Lebanon sheltering at a school in Beirut (Jamal Saidi/Courtesy Reuters).

Wael Eskandar argues that the death of Egyptian activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh last week at the hands of security forces represents the complete failure of the January 25 revolution. Read more »

Weekend Reading: After the Uprisings, Egypt’s Despotism, and Yemen’s Meltdown

by Steven A. Cook
A Houthi fighter shouts slogans as he takes part in a demonstration to show support to the Houthi movement in Sanaa (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters). A Houthi fighter shouts slogans as he takes part in a demonstration to show support to the Houthi movement in Sanaa (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters).

Karl Sharro presents a satirically “simple” diagram of the Arab uprisings and their aftermath.

Amro Ali looks at how the citizen contributes to the sustainability of despotism in Egypt. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Dogging It In Cairo, Lebanon’s Pretty Good Year, and Rethinking Syria Before The War

by Steven A. Cook
Dogs trot outside a mausoleum at the El'arafa cemetery located in the City of the Dead, near Cairo (Ahmed Jadallah/Courtesy Reuters). Dogs trot outside a mausoleum at the El'arafa cemetery located in the City of the Dead, near Cairo (Ahmed Jadallah/Courtesy Reuters).

Adham Elsherif presents a short, English-subtitled film on life in Cairo through the eyes of street dogs.

Elias Muhanna argues that, despite its troubles, Lebanon had a better year in 2014 that expected. Read more »