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 "GCC"

Weekend Reading: Reading History in Doha, Egypt Intervenes in Libya, and Nervous Gulfies

by Steven A. Cook
Kuwait's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah al Khalid al Sabah presides over the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Riyadh June 2, 2014 (Faisal Al Nasser/Courtesy Reuters). Kuwait's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah al Khalid al Sabah presides over the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Riyadh June 2, 2014 (Faisal Al Nasser/Courtesy Reuters).

Explore the Qatar Digital Library, an archive featuring the cultural and historical heritage of the Gulf and the wider region.

Janet Basurto, writing for Egyptian Streets, explores the reasons behind Egypt’s intervention in Libya. Read more »

The Contest for Regional Leadership in the New Middle East

by Steven A. Cook
Free Syrian Army fighters pose on a tank, which they say was captured from the Syrian army loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, after clashes in Qasseer, near Homs (Shaam News Network/Courtesy Reuters). Free Syrian Army fighters pose on a tank, which they say was captured from the Syrian army loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, after clashes in Qasseer, near Homs (Shaam News Network/Courtesy Reuters).

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) just published this report that I coauthored with Jacob Stokes, Bacevich fellow at  CNAS, and my research associate Alexander Brock.

“The Contest for Regional Leadership in the New Middle East” shows how, in addition to the historic political change occurring within the major states of the Middle East, there is a transformative process underway remaking the dynamics among the states of the region. The reordering of the geopolitics of the region has exposed rivalries among the contenders for leadership, as well as different ideological, economic, nationalistic and sectarian agendas. The report argues that Washington has sought to accommodate these changes in a way that continues to secure its strategic interests. What role the United States will play in a “new Middle East” is the subject of intense debate among Americans, Arabs and Turks. Nevertheless, it is clear that with all the problems regional powers have confronted trying to shape the politics of the region, American leadership will continue to be indispensable. Read more »

Egypt and the Gulf: When a Free Lunch Is Not Free

by Steven A. Cook
Minister of Interior Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of United Arab Emirates (Youssef Boudlal/Courtesy Reuters). Minister of Interior Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of United Arab Emirates (Youssef Boudlal/Courtesy Reuters).

Last Friday, the online version of the Egyptian daily, Al Ahram, reported that Egypt is slowing down its payments for commodities, especially food.   Apparently, because the country’s foreign currency reserves are currently about $17 billion—which means the Egyptians are coming close to the minimum amounts of reserves needed to cover imports for 3-4 months—the Central Bank has become “particularly cautious” about allocating these funds.  Upon hearing the news, one former IMF and Treasury Department official wrote to me: “So it begins…central bank has a delicate balancing act…withhold too long and it gets blamed, but it needs to slow the drain…often see this in advance of em [emerging market] crisis.” There has been some happy talk recently, most notably from IMF chief Christine LaGarde, about the state of Egypt’s finances, but it seems clear that the Egyptians are going to need additional assistance.  Their likely patrons will be the Saudis, Emiratis, and Kuwaitis who poured $12 billion in various forms into Egypt right after the July 3, 2013 coup and, in an implicit recognition that the Egyptian economy is in disastrous condition, the three Gulf states have committed an additional $8 billion.  The Gulfies may come to regret their investment in Egypt, but for now they remain unwavering in their support for Cairo.  It is true as some Emiratis have grumbled in private and stated publicly that they will not keep pouring money down a black hole, but for now at least  the assistance will continue to flow.  The funding from the Gulf is not just to keep the economy afloat but also to ensure that Egypt follows a particular political trajectory that does not pose a threat to the Saudis, Emiratis, and Kuwaitis or their common strategic interests. Read more »

Weekend Reading: The GCC and Iran,The Tale of Two Generals, and Deserts…The Final Frontier

by Steven A. Cook
A Palestinian shop owner reads a book as he waits for customers at his shop in a market in the Old City of the West Bank town of Hebron (Ammar Awad/Courtesy Reuters). A Palestinian shop owner reads a book as he waits for customers at his shop in a market in the Old City of the West Bank town of Hebron (Ammar Awad/Courtesy Reuters).

Marwan Kabalan says that GCC countries will need to rely on their own power to ward off Iranian influence.

The European Space Agency posts photos of Middle Eastern deserts from space. Read more »

Roundup: Wikimania

by Steven A. Cook

wikileaks arab iran turkey

The Wikileaks Cable as Literature
Beam on the art of cable writing

Wikileaks and the Arab Public Sphere
Lynch on how Arab autocrats will confront the Leaks

Confirming the “bad chemistry”
Istanbul Calling on Wiki, America, and Turkey

Arabs and Iran
Sullivan and Goldberg duke it out over whether the Israel lobby is the only potent force advocating for war against Iran

Read more »