Steven A. Cook

From the Potomac to the Euphrates

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Egypt"

Weekend Reading: Tunisia’s Saints, Egyptians React to the U.S. Election, and the Battle for Mosul Pictured

by Steven A. Cook
A member of Shi'ite fighters carries a weapon during a battle with Islamic State militants at the airport of Tal Afar west of Mosul, Iraq (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters). A member of Shi'ite fighters carries a weapon during a battle with Islamic State militants at the airport of Tal Afar west of Mosul, Iraq (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters).

Inel Tarfa explores Tunisia’s heritage of Sufi saints, which has come under attack by Islamist militants in recent years.

Shahira Amin finds that while there are those in Egypt who either support or oppose the election of Donald J. Trump to the U.S. presidency, most Egyptians remain ambivalent. Read more »

Egypt’s Economic Reform: The Good and the Bad

by Steven A. Cook
Egyptians gather to buy subsidised sugar and oil from a government truck, after goods shortage in retail stores across the country and after the central bank floated the pound currency, in downtown Cairo, Egypt (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters). Egyptians gather to buy subsidised sugar and oil from a government truck, after goods shortage in retail stores across the country and after the central bank floated the pound currency, in downtown Cairo, Egypt (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters).

I wrote this piece with my friend Imran Riffat, who has served in senior management positions with a major international bank and has experience in Cairo that includes a five-year stint as country head of the Egyptian operation. 

Last Friday, many Egyptians and more than a few Egypt watchers in Washington, DC, held their collective breath. November 11 was to be the “Revolution of the Poor,” but the 22 million who live in poverty did not show up in Tahrir Square to demand change. It might have been the large number of riot police and armored vehicles in the streets that kept people away. It also might have been the sheer exhaustion of the last six years and the fear of what might come next should another “revolution” erupt. The era of former President Hosni Mubarak may be perceived as an era of stagnation, but thus far it looks good along a number of economic, social, and even political dimensions in comparison to what has followed it. Still, Friday was a big win for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (and a setback for the Muslim Brotherhood, whose spokesman, Hassan Saleh, seemed to be foaming at the mouth in his official statement on behalf of the group encouraging protests). Not long after it became clear that Egyptians were not mobilizing came the announcement that Egypt and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had agreed to a much-needed $12 billion loan. Then, on Sunday, the Egyptian stock market did well. To cap off the weekend, Egypt’s national soccer team beat Ghana 2-0, vaulting the team to the top spot in its World Cup qualifying group. Read more »

Thinking About Culture and the Middle East

by Steven A. Cook
Tunisian lawyers gather as they demonstrate against the government's proposed new taxes, near the courthouse, in Tunis, Tunisia (Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters). Tunisian lawyers gather as they demonstrate against the government's proposed new taxes, near the courthouse, in Tunis, Tunisia (Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters).

I read Ross Douthat’s column in the New York Times every Sunday. I guess that qualifies me as a fan, but it’s not that I agree with everything he writes. On at least one occasion, I thought his column was downright weird. For the most part, though, I appreciate his insights into cultural and religious conservatives that are the bread and butter of his work. On Sunday, October 9, he offered his readers a piece called “Among the Post-Liberals.” It was an exposition on how the “new radicals,” “new reactionaries,” and “religious dissenters” within the West are engaged in trenchant critiques of the Western, liberal, democratic, capitalist order, though none of these groups have developed a unified theory of what ails this system or of what should come next. Of Douthat’s 808 words, it was the following passage that really grabbed me: Read more »

Egypt’s Nightmare

by Steven A. Cook
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends the graduation of 83 aviation and military science at the Air Force Academy in Cairo, Egypt (Egyptian Presidency Handout/Reuters). Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends the graduation of 83 aviation and military science at the Air Force Academy in Cairo, Egypt (Egyptian Presidency Handout/Reuters).

This article was originally published here on ForeignAffairs.com on Tuesday, October 18, 2016. It has also been published in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Syria’s Trauma, Tunisia’s Sayings, and Egypt’s Economic Woes

by Steven A. Cook
People who fled from Islamic State-controlled areas arrive in the northern Syrian rebel-held town of Waqf, near al-Rai town, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria (Khalil Ashawi/Reuters). People who fled from Islamic State-controlled areas arrive in the northern Syrian rebel-held town of Waqf, near al-Rai town, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria (Khalil Ashawi/Reuters).

Peter Harling delves into the political and psychological trauma that the Syrian conflict’s victims and fighters suffer from.

Inel Tarfa guides readers through the world of Tunisian sayings and proverbs. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Shimon Peres, Egypt’s Ultras, and the Kurds of Iran

by Steven A. Cook
Israeli President Shimon Peres reads a newspaper during the Ambrosetti workshop in Cernobbio, next to Como (Paolo Bona/Reuters). Israeli President Shimon Peres reads a newspaper during the Ambrosetti workshop in Cernobbio, next to Como (Paolo Bona/Reuters).

Michael Koplow contemplates the legacy of Israeli founding father and politician Shimon Peres, who died earlier this week.

Karim Zidan takes a look at the Ultras of Egypt, die-hard fans of the soccer club Al-Ahly, exploring the role they play in Egyptian politics and society. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Morocco’s Amazigh, Istanbul’s Rent, and the Teacher of al-Minya

by Steven A. Cook
Local Amazigh people attend a rally in celebration of the Amazigh New Year, and also to express solidarity with Libyan Amazigh people, in Rabat (Stringer/Reuters). Local Amazigh people attend a rally in celebration of the Amazigh New Year, and also to express solidarity with Libyan Amazigh people, in Rabat (Stringer/Reuters).

Celeste Hicks examines the political struggle of the Amazigh community in Morocco to designate Tamazight as an official state language. Read more »

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

by Steven A. Cook
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 »

Weekend Reading: Between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain’s Illusions, and Egypt’s Brexit

by Steven A. Cook
Human rights activists, Zainab al-Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab (R) talk during their meeting with activists after al-Khawaja's release from prison, Manama, Bahrain (Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters). Human rights activists, Zainab al-Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab (R) talk during their meeting with activists after al-Khawaja's release from prison, Manama, Bahrain (Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters).

Giorgio Cafiero and Joshua Hodge explore how the smaller Arab Gulf states perceive Iran in different ways than Saudi Arabia, whose position often dominates Gulf policy on the issue. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Libyan Identity, an Alawite State, and Cairo’s Ramadan Lanterns

by Steven A. Cook
A woman with her daughter look at a stall selling festival lights and Ramadan lanterns, or "fanoos Ramadan", at Sayida Zienab district market during the first day of Ramadan in old Cairo, Egypt (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters). A woman with her daughter look at a stall selling festival lights and Ramadan lanterns, or "fanoos Ramadan", at Sayida Zienab district market during the first day of Ramadan in old Cairo, Egypt (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters).

Nada Elfeituri discusses the politics of identity and tribalism in Libya as civil strife continues to unfold.

Stefan Winter examines a 1936 pro–Syrian unity petition by Sulayman al-Asad, grandfather of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who pushed against the creation of an Alawite state. Read more »