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"

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). 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). 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). 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) 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 »

After the Arab Spring on TheAtlantic.com

by Steven A. Cook

A Kingdom of Libya flag is seen during a demonstration in support of the Bahraini people in Baghdad's Sadr city (Stringer Iraq/Courtesy Reuters)

Hi folks,

Below is an excerpt from my piece on TheAtlantic.com that appeared today. To read the full text, click here.

A couple of days before Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was finally forced from office, it rained in Cairo. When the storm passed and the sun re-appeared, one of the protesters pointed out on Twitter that a rainbow had appeared over downtown — a sign, she believed, of the freedom and prosperity that was to come. Caught up in the romance of the barricades, it was hard for demonstrators and democracy activists, in Egypt and beyond, not to think that way. It seemed that Middle East was on the verge of a democratic breakthrough. It was one thing for Tunisians to force a tin-pot dictator like Zine Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Jeddah, it was quite another for Egyptians to dump the Pharaoh. That’s not supposed to happen. And as Tunisians inspired Egyptians, what the revolutionaries in Cairo accomplished gave impetus to Pearl Square, where Bahrain’s own protesters have gathered, and to Benghazi, the base of Libya’s rebellion against Muammar Qaddafi. Yet the successes of Tahrir or November 7 squares have not easily translated to these other places. It seems entirely possible that the Arab spring could end on the banks of the Nile. What went wrong?

Read more »