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 "Palestinian Authority"

Weekend Reading: Egypt’s Informers, Algeria’s Political Complexities, and The Non-Intifada

by Steven A. Cook
A supporter of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi shouts slogans against the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, after the collection signatures for a petition in downtown Cairo (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters). A supporter of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi shouts slogans against the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, after the collection signatures for a petition in downtown Cairo (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Belal Fadl characterizes Egypt as a state-sponsored nation of informers.

Anna Jacobs explores the complexities of the Algerian political system. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Trouble In Morocco, Egypt 1990s Style, and What Are The Palestinians Saying?

by Steven A. Cook
Israeli border police officers walk past the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City (Ammar Awad/Courtesy Reuters). Israeli border police officers walk past the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City (Ammar Awad/Courtesy Reuters).

Zineb Belmkaddem examines how the Moroccan authorities are clamping down on opposition movements.

Dina El Khawaga argues that the Egyptian government is reproducing the authoritarian measures of the 1990s to consolidate its power. Read more »

Salvaging Abbas

by Steven A. Cook
U.S. President Barack Obama walks down Cross Hall with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas September 1, 2010 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama walks down Cross Hall with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas September 1, 2010 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

This article was originally published here on TimesOfIsrael.com on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

Almost from the start of the conflict in the Gaza Strip, the commentariat has been seized with the idea of “empowering [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas” as the only way out of the recurrent violence between Israel and Hamas. The discovery of this idea in Washington (and Jerusalem for that matter) is rather odd, not because it does not make sense, but rather because the idea is so reasonable and obvious that one wonders why — ten years after he became the Palestinian leader — it took so long to recognize it. Almost from the moment of Yasser Arafat’s death, Egypt sent high-level emissaries to the United States, warning that the new Palestinian president needed help lest he gradually cede the political arena to Hamas. He did not get it then and now it is likely too late to salvage Abbas. Read more »

Weekend Reading: The King of the Kurds, Sexual Violence in Egypt, and Israel’s Accidental War

by Steven A. Cook
A Sunni Sheikh carries a mock of a rocket during a demonstration organised by Lebanese Sunni Islamists and Palestinians to denounce Israeli air strikes on the Gaza strip (Ali Hashisho/Courtesy Reuters). A Sunni Sheikh carries a mock of a rocket during a demonstration organised by Lebanese Sunni Islamists and Palestinians to denounce Israeli air strikes on the Gaza strip (Ali Hashisho/Courtesy Reuters).

Sarah Carr, writing for Mada Masroffers an in-depth and graphic look at sexual assault and the Egyptian state.

J.J. Goldberg explores the triggers to an “unintended” war in Gaza. Read more »

Yasser Arafat: Dead Again

by Steven A. Cook
Photo by Steven Cook. Photo by Steven Cook.

With all the important news going on in the Middle East this past week, Al Jazeera took time out to remind its audience that Yasser Arafat is still dead. It has been nine years since the Palestinian leader passed away in a French hospital, yet Abu Ammar is still making news, of sorts.  This week a Swiss investigative team reported that there are indications that Arafat was poisoned with polonium, yet others who took part in the examination of the remains and soil samples around the man’s grave at the Muqata’a in Ramallah have not been so definitive nor willing to release their findings.  Sounds suspicious. Read more »

Palestine in India

by Steven A. Cook
An example of Rangoli--Indian folk art that is intended as a welcoming of Hindu gods. An example of Rangoli--Indian folk art that is intended as a welcoming of Hindu gods.

Mumbai, India—A few nights ago, I had the opportunity to speak about the Middle East at an interfaith forum in Chennai.  India is not without its sectarian problems and periodic spasms of terrible religion-inspired violence, but the country’s well-deserved reputation for spirituality seems to take the edge off on a daily basis.  For that reason, I was looking forward to the interfaith dialogue.  This is a country of six major religions, and though 80 percent are Hindus, departments of Religious Studies at Indian universities teach about Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism.  That’s not all, of course.  Another almost 7 million people adhere to a variety of other religions.  The interfaith forum provided an opportunity for me to see how the Indians make it all work.  I was imagining a lot of Namaste (a hard to translate expression of reverence and respect). The rangoli—a symbolic offering to Hindu gods—just outside the building where the dialogue was taking place only heightened my expectations about how the evening would unfold. The event started off well-enough with the director of the center giving a “Moon is in the 7th House—all religions teach love—peace is our destiny” oration that in a previous era inspired a generation of hippies. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Al-Qaeda’s Spring, Tunisia’s Violence, and Palestine’s Perspective

by Steven A. Cook
A Muslim man reads the Koran at the Al-Rajhi mosque east of Riyadh, during the holy month of Ramadan (Faisal Al Nasser/Courtesy Reuters). A Muslim man reads the Koran at the Al-Rajhi mosque east of Riyadh, during the holy month of Ramadan (Faisal Al Nasser/Courtesy Reuters).

Musa al-Gharbi claims that the Arab Spring has failed to render al-Qaeda irrelevant, and it is now on the verge of resurgence.

Tunisia-Live’s live blog for updates on Thursday’s assassination of Mohammed Brahmi, leader of the opposition Popular Movement Party in Tunisia. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Egypt’s Economy, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, and Greening the West Bank

by Steven A. Cook
People rest near Ramadan lanterns, or Fanoos Ramadan, which are displayed for sale at shops a day ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Cairo (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters). People rest near Ramadan lanterns, or Fanoos Ramadan, which are displayed for sale at shops a day ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Cairo (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Matt Phillips, writing for Quartz, provides some startling figures about Egypt’s economy following the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Egypt’s Revolutionary Symbols, Religious Tolerance on the Nile, and Israel Is Not Feeling Lucky

by Steven A. Cook
A man feeds camels at the camel market in Agadez, northern Niger. The Libyan crisis has affected the camel trade in Agadez badly, as Libya was a large market for the animal, and now there is no trade available from the country. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters). A man feeds camels at the camel market in Agadez, northern Niger. The Libyan crisis has affected the camel trade in Agadez badly, as Libya was a large market for the animal, and now there is no trade available from the country. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters).

Muftah analyzes the Muslim Brotherhood’s appropriation of revolutionary symbols, such as the Ultras,  to claim popularity among the youth in Egypt. Read more »

Israel’s Jerusalem “Piece Process”

by Steven A. Cook
Jewish settlers hold Israeli flags and shout slogans from their balcony at left-wing activists (not seen) during a demonstration to show solidarity with Palestinians against a newly dedicated Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem (Amir Cohen/Courtesy Reuters). Jewish settlers hold Israeli flags and shout slogans from their balcony at left-wing activists (not seen) during a demonstration to show solidarity with Palestinians against a newly dedicated Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem (Amir Cohen/Courtesy Reuters).

So it has begun.  President Barack Obama travels to Israel—as well as Palestine and Jordan—this week and columnists, bloggers, and foreign policy wonks of all stripes have begun commenting on the visit.  My friend Aaron Miller weighed in Sunday morning with a big article in the Washington Post’s “Outlook” section about where the President can find common ground with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, though most of the piece was devoted to the relationship with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The National’s Hugh Naylor quotes Yossi Bellin, who will forever be identified as an “architect of the 1993 Oslo Accords,” as stating boldly that President Obama should not bother making the trip unless he comes with proposals to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end. Overall, there have been at least sixteen articles and op-eds in the past few weeks dealing with the peace process and President Obama’s travels to the region. Most of them are in line with the low expectations that the White House has set ahead of the visit, suggesting that the meetings between the President and Israeli prime minister will deal almost exclusively with Syria and Iran. That may be the case, but there are some modest expectations bubbling up on the peace process. Read more »