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 "Opposition Movements"

Weekend Reading: Literature and Resistance in Turkey, Art and the Dictator, and a Year in Yemen

by Steven A. Cook
A farm boy, with his face covered with sand, is pictured as he leaves the farm he works on, near Sanaa, Yemen (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters).

Pinar Tremblay discovers that literary magazines in Turkey have become increasingly useful as a means of communicating messages of popular resistance while easily evading censorship. Read more »

The Middle Eastern Revolutions That Never Were

by Steven A. Cook
A man walks past graffiti that reads "Revelation, Screaming of people" at Mohamed Mahmoud street which leads to the Interior Ministry, where clashes between protesters and security force took place in late November, near Tahrir Square in Cairo December 5, 2011 (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters).

This article originally appeared here on the American Interest on Monday, October 26, 2015.

Bloodshed, fragmentation, and repression portend a Middle Eastern future very different from the democratic dreams that many Western observers and some young locals entertained in 2011 and 2012. When the so-called revolutions of the region began to produce instability and violence, some analysts suggested there was no need to worry. What was happening in the Middle East was a process, albeit a painful one, that was common to countries that had undergone transitions to democracy. Yet it turns out that Egypt is not France and even Tunisia, the Arab Spring’s lone “success story”, is not Poland. For various political, structural, and historical reasons, unlike Western Europe of two centuries ago or Eastern Europe of two decades ago, authoritarian instability, not rocky democratic transitions, is the Middle East’s new reality. Read more »

Egypt: The High Art of Being Feckless

by Steven A. Cook
Protesters hold banners during a march toward the foreign ministry in Cairo, demonstrating against the visit of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on March 2, 2013 (Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters).

I felt sorry for Secretary of State John Kerry when he flew into Cairo on March 2.  I am sure his briefers and the U.S. embassy staff did everything they could to prepare him for the visit as best as possible. Still, I’m not sure that Massachusetts politics, the less than genteel Senate, the rough-and-tumble world of a presidential election campaign, and the best briefing ever could prepare the new secretary for what has been happening in Egypt.  With all the instability, “Calvinball” politics, lawlessness, and massive economic as well as social problems, Egypt is the biggest and most significant long-term challenge for the United States in the Middle East. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Looking Back on Egypt’s Uprising

by Steven A. Cook
An anti-government protester defaces a picture of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in Alexandria (Stringer Egypt/Courtesy Reuters).

On the second anniversary of Egypt’s January 25 uprising, I decided to re-post some of my own work on Egypt.  I hope you continue to find these posts/articles useful.  Enjoy!

Five Things You Need to Know About the Egyptian Armed Forces, January 31, 2011 on “From the Potomac to the Euphrates.” Read more »

The Middle East in 2013: Don’t Count on It

by Steven A. Cook
Egyptian flags are displayed for sale during New Year's Eve celebrations at Tahrir Square in Cairo (Amr Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

It is finally the second week of January, meaning that the annual year-end/beginning lists and prognostications are mercifully behind us.  Some of these catalogues of best-worst and “what to expect” are more interesting than others—my favorites are best books and articles—but mostly, these exercises are filler for the December 20-January 5 slowdown.  The problem with the annual lists is that because they are done with one eye on the snow conditions at Aspen or the water temperature in the Caribbean or the traffic on I-95, they are often dashed off in a vacuum— with no context and no sense of how these observations connect to each other in useful analytic ways. Read more »

Weekend Reading: The Syrian Dilemma, America’s Democracy Push in Egypt, and Questions on Egypt’s New Parliament

by Steven A. Cook
Activists paint graffiti on a wall ahead of an anti-government rally in Sanaa (Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi/Courtesy Reuters)

Alexey Pilko writes on Eurasia Review about the dilemma of Syria.

Emad Mekay says, on the San Francisco Chronicle the U.S. shouldn’t support Egypt’s democracy backers. Read more »