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 "Iraq"

Libya: Cameron, Sarkozy, and (Obama’s) Iraq

by Steven A. Cook
A member of Libyan forces prays as he prepares with his comrades for next advance against Islamic State holdouts in Sirte, Libya (Ismail Zitouny/Reuters). A member of Libyan forces prays as he prepares with his comrades for next advance against Islamic State holdouts in Sirte, Libya (Ismail Zitouny/Reuters).

There is a lot going on this week given that Tuesday marks the beginning of the United Nations General Assembly’s annual general debate. I cannot actually remember when something substantive happened during these meetings, but hopefully this year will be different as world leaders gather ahead of the debate for a summit called “Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.” Read more »

Summer of Sadism

by Steven A. Cook
People ride a bus to be evacuated from the besieged Damascus suburb of Daraya, after an agreement reached on Thursday between rebels and Syria's army (Omar Sanadiki/Reuters). People ride a bus to be evacuated from the besieged Damascus suburb of Daraya, after an agreement reached on Thursday between rebels and Syria's army (Omar Sanadiki/Reuters).

I love the summer. When I was a kid, beginning around April 1, I would start counting down the days until I went to camp. As an adult, summer has always been the season when I can turn back the clock and be a little less adult. The Tuesday after Labor Day is just another day in the calendar and the weather is often no different from the day or month before, but for me, it is the most vile day of the year—it marks the end of summer. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Turkey’s Coups, Iraq’s Descent, and Saudi Arabia’s Jews

by Steven A. Cook
A supporter of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves a Turkish flag during a pro-government protest in Cologne, Germany (Vincent Kessler/Reuters). A supporter of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves a Turkish flag during a pro-government protest in Cologne, Germany (Vincent Kessler/Reuters).

Ayse Zarakol highlights how Western and Turkish observers have interpreted the recent failed coup in Turkey in different ways. Read more »

Failing Iraq

by Steven A. Cook
Sir John Chilcot presents The Iraq Inquiry Report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster, London, Britain (Jeff J Mitchell/Reuters). Sir John Chilcot presents The Iraq Inquiry Report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster, London, Britain (Jeff J Mitchell/Reuters).

Last week, Sir John Chilcot released the final report of the Iraq Inquiry—also known at the Chilcot report—after seven years of work. It is the definitive statement on how the British government became the primary partner of the United States in Operation Iraqi Freedom and how its armed forces conducted the war. The aftermath of the British vote to leave the European Union and the violence on American streets made the over-six-thousand-page study a second-tier news story, but one also gets the sense that there is a profound ambivalence about reliving the events of thirteen and fourteen years ago. Still, the Chilcot report is important because it reaffirms the transparency and resilience of British political institutions. It is true that, like in the United States, no one was held accountable for the strategic blunder that was the invasion, but the report represents a thorough examination of the record from which hopefully the British (and American) governments can learn. At the same time, the whole exercise seems woefully and depressingly beside the point because it is yet another distraction from the larger story that has been unfolding since the first rockets fell on Baghdad: the failure of Iraq. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Terror and Infrastructure in Iraq, Ladino Music, and the Return of South Yemen

by Steven A. Cook
Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims attend prayers during Eid al-Fitr as they mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, at the site of a suicide car bomb attack over the weekend at the shopping area of Karrada, in Baghdad, Iraq (Khalid al Mousily/Reuters). Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims attend prayers during Eid al-Fitr as they mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, at the site of a suicide car bomb attack over the weekend at the shopping area of Karrada, in Baghdad, Iraq (Khalid al Mousily/Reuters).

Sajad Jiyad, an Iraq-based researcher, argues that it was poor infrastructure as well as terrorism that contributed to the deaths of at least 250 people in Baghdad last Sunday. Read more »

Weekend Reading: The Sarona Attacks, the Islamic State’s Factions, and What Is Ahrar al-Sham?

by Steven A. Cook
Relatives and friends mourn during the funeral of Ido Ben Ari, one of four Israelis who was killed in an Palestinian shooting attack in Tel Aviv, at a cemetery in Yavne, Israel (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters). Relatives and friends mourn during the funeral of Ido Ben Ari, one of four Israelis who was killed in an Palestinian shooting attack in Tel Aviv, at a cemetery in Yavne, Israel (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters).

J. J. Goldberg dissects the nature of the recent terrorist attack in Tel Aviv that killed four.

Tore Hamming examines the different ideological strains within the Islamic State group, focusing on its “extremist” wing. Read more »

Weekend Reading: The Folly of Iraqi Partition, Turkey’s New Prime Minister, and Geopolitical Shiism

by Steven A. Cook
Tribesmen loyal to the Houthi movement perform the Baraa dance during a gathering to show support to the movement in Sanaa, Yemen (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters). Tribesmen loyal to the Houthi movement perform the Baraa dance during a gathering to show support to the movement in Sanaa, Yemen (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters).

Ben Connable contends that persistent arguments to partition Iraq are often incoherent and offer weak solutions.

Murat Yetkin profiles Turkey’s presumptive new prime minister, Binali Yildirim, who was formerly the minister of transportation. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Comedy and the Islamic State, Protest and Failure in Egypt, and Insulting Erdogan

by Steven A. Cook
A view shows actors during the filming of the set of the television series, whose title is loosely translated as "State of Myths" in Baghdad (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters). A view shows actors during the filming of the set of the television series, whose title is loosely translated as "State of Myths" in Baghdad (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters).

Nathaniel Greenberg examines the use of comedy in Iraq to counter the narrative of the self-declared Islamic State.

One blogger expounds on the weaknesses and pitfalls of the Egyptian protest movement. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Smuggling in Syria, Marriage in Mosul, and Egypt’s Development Challenges

by Steven A. Cook
Iraqi soldiers launch artillery toward Islamic State militants on the outskirt of the Makhmour south of Mosul (Azad Lashkari/Reuters). Iraqi soldiers launch artillery toward Islamic State militants on the outskirt of the Makhmour south of Mosul (Azad Lashkari/Reuters).

Yasser Allawi interviews a Syrian smuggler, Abu Yazan, on the process of transporting refugees to Europe via Turkey.

Nawzat Shamdeen takes a look at marriage laws in Islamic State–controlled Mosul. Read more »