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 "Iran"

Weekend Reading: Assad’s Inaugural Address, A Review of Rouhani, and Egypt’s Reconciliation Problems

by Steven A. Cook
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad places his right hand on a Koran as he is sworn in for a new seven-year term, at al-Shaab presidential palace in Damascus July 16, 2014 (Sana Sana/Courtesy Reuters). Syria's President Bashar al-Assad places his right hand on a Koran as he is sworn in for a new seven-year term, at al-Shaab presidential palace in Damascus July 16, 2014 (Sana Sana/Courtesy Reuters).

Full text of Bashar al-Assad’s inauguration speech at his swearing-in ceremony last Wednesday, translated by the Center for Research on Globalization. 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 »

Weekend Listening: Mideastunes and Rapping in Turkey and Iran

by Steven A. Cook
A teacher plays the saz, a traditional musical instrument, during a music class at the Arbat refugee camp in the northern Iraqi province of Sulaimaniya (Yahya Ahmad/Courtesy Reuters). A teacher plays the saz, a traditional musical instrument, during a music class at the Arbat refugee camp in the northern Iraqi province of Sulaimaniya (Yahya Ahmad/Courtesy Reuters).

Mideastunes.com, a “search engine,” of sorts, for finding music from the Middle East.

Jenna Krajeski profiles Tahribad-i Isyan, a Turkish rap group from Sulukule, Istanbul and discusses the urban development and minority experience that inspire their songs. 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 »

Weekend Reading: Cairo’s Communities, Israel and Iran, and Aid to Egypt

by Steven A. Cook
Shi'ites perform the traditional Baraa dance as they celebrate Eid al-Ghadir in Sanaa October 23, 2013 (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters). Shi'ites perform the traditional Baraa dance as they celebrate Eid al-Ghadir in Sanaa October 23, 2013 (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters).

Tadamun  takes a look at one of the oldest urban communities in Cairo’s Giza governorate, Mit ‘Uqba.

Jonathan Tobin says that the answer to the question of whether Israel will strike Iran is not to be found in historical precedent. Read more »

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

by Steven A. Cook
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). 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 »

Weekend Reading: Parks and Turks, Red Lines, and Iran’s Elections

by Steven A. Cook
Men stand in line to vote during the Iranian presidential election at a mosque in Qom, 120 km (74.6 miles) south of Tehran June 14, 2013 (Mohammad Akhlag/Courtesy Reuters). Men stand in line to vote during the Iranian presidential election at a mosque in Qom, 120 km (74.6 miles) south of Tehran June 14, 2013 (Mohammad Akhlag/Courtesy Reuters).

Timur Hammond and Elizabeth Angell discuss the transformation of Turkey’s public spaces into spheres of public and engaged discourse. Read more »

Egypt: From Tehran With Love

by Steven A. Cook
Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi (R) greets Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Turkish President Abdullah Gul look on before meeting at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Cairo February 6, 2013 (Handout/Courtesy Reuters). Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi (R) greets Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Turkish President Abdullah Gul look on before meeting at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Cairo February 6, 2013 (Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

As Iran loses ground in Syria, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip, expect Tehran to try to shore up its ability to influence the Middle East in the most unlikely of places:  Egypt.

Over the last few years there have been numerous signs that Cairo and Tehran were making tentative steps toward changing their previously rather frosty relations, including the transit of Iranian warships through the Suez Canal, open discussion among decision-makers in both countries about normalizing ties, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s August 2012 visit to Iran for a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, and his Iranian counterpart’s reciprocal visit to Cairo this past February for the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.  In addition, the current cause célèbre between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis of the al Nour party concerns whether to allow Iranian tourists to visit Egypt.  The Brothers are for it, while the Salafis, fearing Shi’a proselytizing, are vehemently opposed. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Lebanon and Iran in Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and Rock Like an Egyptian

by Steven A. Cook
A man reads El-Watan newspaper at Tahrir square in Cairo, May 12, 2013 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). A man reads El-Watan newspaper at Tahrir square in Cairo, May 12, 2013 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

Thanassis Cambanis claims that Lebanon’s Hizballah and the clerical regime in Iran are now fully vested factions in Syria’s civil war.

Hicham Mourad discusses the uneasy relationship between Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the leaders in Saudi Arabia. Read more »