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 "Libya"

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: Libyan Identity, an Alawite State, and Cairo’s Ramadan Lanterns

by Steven A. Cook
A woman with her daughter look at a stall selling festival lights and Ramadan lanterns, or "fanoos Ramadan", at Sayida Zienab district market during the first day of Ramadan in old Cairo, Egypt (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters). A woman with her daughter look at a stall selling festival lights and Ramadan lanterns, or "fanoos Ramadan", at Sayida Zienab district market during the first day of Ramadan in old Cairo, Egypt (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters).

Nada Elfeituri discusses the politics of identity and tribalism in Libya as civil strife continues to unfold.

Stefan Winter examines a 1936 pro–Syrian unity petition by Sulayman al-Asad, grandfather of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who pushed against the creation of an Alawite state. Read more »

Libya: Disconnect and Fragmentation

by Steven A. Cook
Supporters of the unity government shout slogans during a demonstration at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli (Hani Amara/Reuters). Supporters of the unity government shout slogans during a demonstration at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli (Hani Amara/Reuters).

Over the last few years, I have been quietly following events in Libya. I must admit, I don’t feel the country “in my bones” the way I do other places in the Middle East, but the more I dig into Libyan politics, the more it fascinates me. I have great guides, though: folks like my dear friend Karim Mezran, who is a wise tutor; Fred Wehrey, who has had the courage to go to Libya when the rest of us wouldn’t dare; and Dirk Vandewalle, whom I have long admired from afar. What has struck me about Libya and Libyan politics is how at first blush it can seem weirdly different from other countries in North Africa and the Middle East, but upon closer inspection, there are compelling similarities. When, on the day that long-standing leader Muammar al-Qaddafi was driven from Tripoli in August 2011, I pointed out that, at a level of abstraction, Libya and Iraq were not all that different, and that Libya may not end up a democracy, I was pilloried. That is Twitter for you… Read more »

Weekend Reading: Lights Out in Libya, Jordan’s Brothers, and Alaa’s Tax Shelters

by Steven A. Cook
A member of the media works on a staircase at the Rixos hotel during a power cut in Tripoli (Paul Hackett/Reuters). A member of the media works on a staircase at the Rixos hotel during a power cut in Tripoli (Paul Hackett/Reuters).

Naziha Arebi illuminates the daily life of Libyans in the shadows of electricity cuts through a series of photographs and conversations.

Osama Al Sharif ponders whether tensions between Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood and the government will lead to an outright ban on the group. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Libya Five Years On, Iran and the Shia, and Contextualizing Heikal

by Steven A. Cook
Libyans celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Libyan revolution, at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli (Ismail Zitouny/Reuters). Libyans celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Libyan revolution, at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli (Ismail Zitouny/Reuters).

Nada Elfeituri ruminates on the five years since Libya’s February 17, 2011, revolution and the mistakes her fellow Libyans have yet to learn from.

Robin Yassin-Kassab questions the assumption that Iran acts as a protector for Shia Muslims throughout the Middle East. Read more »

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: Egypt’s State of Idiocy, Darth Mediene, and Libya’s Tribes

by Steven A. Cook
A man reads newspaper in the alley of the old city of Algiers Al Casbah, Algeria (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters). A man reads newspaper in the alley of the old city of Algiers Al Casbah, Algeria (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters).

Maged Atiya laments the Egyptian state’s devolution into idiocy.

Sam Metz and Abdallah Brahimi explore the potential reasons behind the recent dismissal of Algerian spy chief Mohammed Mediene. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Libya’s Forgotten War, Egypt’s Hidden Coup, and Falling Oil Prices

by Steven A. Cook
A Tuareg boy stands next to a camel in the desert during the 19th Ghat Festival of Culture and Tourism, in Ghat, about 1,360 km (845 miles) south of Tripoli December 30, 2013 (Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters). A Tuareg boy stands next to a camel in the desert during the 19th Ghat Festival of Culture and Tourism, in Ghat, about 1,360 km (845 miles) south of Tripoli December 30, 2013 (Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters).

Valerie Stocker explores the overlook conflict between Libya’s Tebu and Tuareg communities.

Hossam Bahgat investigates a secret military trial in Egypt of twenty-six officers accused of plotting a coup with the Muslim Brotherhood to overthrow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Read more »