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 "Iraq"

Kurdistan: Just Being Independent

by Steven A. Cook
A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier holds a Kurdistan flag (Azad Lashkari/Courtesy Reuters). A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier holds a Kurdistan flag (Azad Lashkari/Courtesy Reuters).

Iraq is going to break up.  It is already happening, but no one wants to acknowledge it because no one wants to be perceived as being responsible for the disintegration of a major Middle Eastern country.

There is not much about the Kurdish region of Iraq that is Iraqi.  When you arrive at Erbil’s brand new international airport, there are no signs that welcome you to Iraq.  I am sure somewhere at the entrance to the airport there is an Iraqi flag, but I didn’t notice it.  The only hint that I was actually in Iraq was the stamp a Kurdish police officer put in my passport that says in tiny letters, “Republic of Iraq—Kurdistan Region.”  The Kurds have a foreign ministry (actually two, maybe even three, but that is another story), a military, interior ministry, intelligence services, a parliament, president, prime minister, investment authority, and a flag.  No one under the age of 30 speaks Arabic (English being the favored second language) and not a single person I met of any age believed themselves to be Iraqi.  Why would they?  What is the common idea that ties someone from Sulaimaniyah to someone in Basra?  There isn’t one. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Elections in the KRI, Civil War in Iraq?, and Mapping the Violence

by Steven A. Cook
A woman reacts at the site of a suicide bomb attack on Shi'ite mosque in Mussayab, 60km (40 miles) south of the capital Baghdad, September 30, 2013 (Alaa Al-Marjani/Courtesy Reuters). A woman reacts at the site of a suicide bomb attack on Shi'ite mosque in Mussayab, 60km (40 miles) south of the capital Baghdad, September 30, 2013 (Alaa Al-Marjani/Courtesy Reuters).

Joel Wing, writing at the Musings on Iraq blog, discusses the significance of the recent electoral results in Iraqi Kurdistan.

An article from Ya Libnan warns of worsening sectarian violence in Iraq that could potentially result in a civil war. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Iraq’s Sects, Jordan’s Elections, and Bahrain’s Social Networks

by Steven A. Cook
A man reads the Koran at the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, before the early morning prayer of Al-Fajr in the holy city of Medina (Amr Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters). A man reads the Koran at the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, before the early morning prayer of Al-Fajr in the holy city of Medina (Amr Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Wadah Khanfar discusses Iraq’s problem of increased sectarian tension, which threatens Iraq’s security and the security of the whole region.

Abdulilah, posting on AmmonNews, offers reflections on Jordan’s upcoming parliamentary elections, which will take place on January 23. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Snapshots of Protests in the Middle East

by Steven A. Cook
Protesters climb a fence at the U.S. embassy in Sanaa (Mohamed Al-Sayaghi/Courtesy Reuters). Protesters climb a fence at the U.S. embassy in Sanaa (Mohamed Al-Sayaghi/Courtesy Reuters).

Nafeesa Syeed provides a closer look at the ongoing protests at the U.S. embassy in Sana’a, Yemen.

Evan Hill offers an interesting analysis of the anti-American demonstrations sweeping the Arab world. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Egypt’s Real Challenges, Lessons for Libya, and Palestinian Protests

by Steven A. Cook
Emarati boy recites verses from the Quran in Dubai. (Anwar Mirza/Courtesy Reuters) Emarati boy recites verses from the Quran in Dubai. (Anwar Mirza/Courtesy Reuters)

The Most Important Stories on the Middle East of 2010

by Steven A. Cook

middle east flotilla iraq iran egypt israel turkey

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. Check out the picture of “Father Time” above. As we bid goodbye to 2010 and say hello to 2011, it is time for that great American pastime of lists: “Best of…,” “Worst of…” “Most Influential…”, and “ Most Important…” of 2010.

Here’s my take for the seven (I couldn’t think of 10) most important stories in the Middle East this year, in no particular order:

Read more »