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: Fact and Fiction in Libya, a Saudi in Iran, and “Turkishness”

by Steven A. Cook
Iranian protesters chant slogans during a rally against the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia, after Friday prayers in Tehran (Raheb Homavandi/Reuters). Iranian protesters chant slogans during a rally against the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia, after Friday prayers in Tehran (Raheb Homavandi/Reuters).

Valentina Viene reviews the struggle to fictionalize the enigmatic persona of Muammar al-Qaddafi, the former leader of Libya, in Yasmina Khadra’s latest novel, The Dictator’s Last Night. Read more »

Weekend Reading: The Saudi-Iranian Cold War, the Return of the Free Syrian Army, and Lebanon’s Protests

by Steven A. Cook
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's King Salman at the Royal Court, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, May 7, 2015 (Andrew Harnik/Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's King Salman at the Royal Court, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, May 7, 2015 (Andrew Harnik/Reuters).

Reza Marashi argues that ending the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is necessary to create a new and effective security framework in the Middle East.

Alex Rowell examines the slow and quiet return of the Free Syrian Army to prominence as a relevant player in Syria’s civil war. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Iran’s Parliament, Syria Divided, and Egyptian Illusions

by Steven A. Cook
Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, president of Egypt, addresses a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York (Mike Segar/Reuters). Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, president of Egypt, addresses a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York (Mike Segar/Reuters).

Farideh Farhi explores the Iranian parliament’s review of the nuclear deal.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed examines the consequences of a divided Syria. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Egypt’s Parliament, Beirut’s Stinky Protests, and Iran’s Anti-ISIL Strategy

by Steven A. Cook
People carry Lebanese national flags and chant slogans as they take part in an anti-government protest at Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut, Lebanon August 29, 2015 (Mohamed Azakir/Reuters). People carry Lebanese national flags and chant slogans as they take part in an anti-government protest at Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut, Lebanon August 29, 2015 (Mohamed Azakir/Reuters).

Beesan Kassab asks why Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is afraid of the constitution and parliament.

Elias Muhanna notes how Beirut’s #YouStink protests are changing political participation in Lebanon. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Journey to Iran, Alawites on the Run, and Tunisia’s Terror Law

by Steven A. Cook
An Iranian cleric reads the Koran during the 26th anniversary ceremony of Iran's Islamic revolution at the Khomeini shrine in the Behesht Zahra cemetery, south of Tehran, January 31, 2005 (Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters). An Iranian cleric reads the Koran during the 26th anniversary ceremony of Iran's Islamic revolution at the Khomeini shrine in the Behesht Zahra cemetery, south of Tehran, January 31, 2005 (Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters).

Larry Cohler-Esses, writing for Forward, discovers a dynamic and complex society during his recent trip to Iran.

Omar Abdallah speaks with Syrian Alawites who no longer believe that the Assad regime can guarantee their safety. Read more »

Weekend Reading: The Birmingham Quran, the Illiberal Middle East, and Terror in Turkey

by Steven A. Cook
Conservator, Marie Sviergula holds a fragment of a Koran manuscript in the library at the University of Birmingham in Britain (Peter Nicholls/Reuters). Conservator, Marie Sviergula holds a fragment of a Koran manuscript in the library at the University of Birmingham in Britain (Peter Nicholls/Reuters).

Take a closer look at fragments of one of the earliest extant Qurans today, found recently at the University of Birmingham.

Nervana Mahmoud laments the fate of Middle Eastern liberalism in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal. Read more »

The Iran Deal: Tastes Great! Less Filling!

by Steven A. Cook
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reacts during a plenary session at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters). Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reacts during a plenary session at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters).

It is rather difficult to know what to say about the Iran nuclear deal. It seems that everything that needs to be said has been said and will continue to be said in the coming days over and over and over again. As I have watched and read the commentary with a measure of detached bemusement, the debate reminds me of the Miller Lite television commercials of my youth. Retired sports greats and others were divided into two teams, one of which would scream “Tastes great!” and the other would retort “Less filling!” Everyone’s ideas were fixed beforehand and no one ever moved from one camp to the other. So it is with the high-pitched, high velocity contest over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that the P5+1 signed with the Islamic Republic of Iran last Tuesday. Read more »

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 »

Weekend Reading: Migrants and Libya?, Taking Tikrit, and Escaping Yemen

by Steven A. Cook
A group of 104 sub-Saharan Africans on board a rubber dinghy reach out for life jackets tossed to them by rescuers of the NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) some 25 miles off the Libyan coast (Darrin Zammit Lupi/Courtesy Reuters). A group of 104 sub-Saharan Africans on board a rubber dinghy reach out for life jackets tossed to them by rescuers of the NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) some 25 miles off the Libyan coast (Darrin Zammit Lupi/Courtesy Reuters).

Issandr El Amrani argues that a strong, stable Libya would not solve the migration problems in the Mediterranean.

The editors at the Middle East Research and Information Project urge for a humanitarian corridor for foreign nationals and Yemenis to escape Yemen. Read more »

Neither Shocked nor Awed: The Arab Reaction to the Iran Deal

by Guest Blogger for Steven A. Cook
Saudi King Salman attends the opening meeting of the Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). Saudi King Salman attends the opening meeting of the Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

My research associate, Amr Leheta, wrote this terrific post on the Arab reaction to the framework agreement between the P5+1 and Iran. Enjoy!

“The Nuclear Agreement…A Strategic Earthquake in the Middle East” read one headline in a London-based, pan-Arab newspaper on April 4. In the article underneath, published a couple of days after the announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding Iran’s nuclear program, the editorial board of Al-Quds Al-Arabi wrote the following: Read more »