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 "Protests"

Weekend Reading: The Artful Arab Spring, Disillusionment in Sidi Bouzid, and Rethinking Fragmented States

by Steven A. Cook
Artists, who [are] against the Egyptian army and government, work on graffiti representing Egypt's life along Mohamed Mahmoud Street near Tahrir Square in Cairo (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters). Artists, who [are] against the Egyptian army and government, work on graffiti representing Egypt's life along Mohamed Mahmoud Street near Tahrir Square in Cairo (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

St. Lawrence University offers an interactive look at the Arab uprisings through the lens of graffiti art.

Michael Marcusa examines the revolutionary spirit of the youth of Sidi Bouzid three-and-a-half years after the Tunisian uprising. Read more »

Arab Spring Reality Check

by Steven A. Cook
Protesters from Tunisia's marginalised rural heartlands hold a hunger strike as they prepare to spend their second night outside the Prime Minister's office in Tunis January 24, 2011 (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters). Protesters from Tunisia's marginalised rural heartlands hold a hunger strike as they prepare to spend their second night outside the Prime Minister's office in Tunis January 24, 2011 (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters).

This article was originally published here on Muftah on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. 

It has been more than three years since the uprisings in the Arab world began.  The civil war in Syria, the persistent conflict between rebel militias and the government in Libya, the return of authoritarianism in Egypt, and the ongoing bloody crackdown in Bahrain all make for considerable hand-wringing among regional observers—to say nothing of Middle Easterners themselves, who once hoped for a better future. Read more »

Mubarak Still Rules

by Steven A. Cook
Protesters cheer with Egyptian flags and a banner of army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, seen between former presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat, as they gather for a mass protest to support the army in front of the presidential palace in Cairo (Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters). Protesters cheer with Egyptian flags and a banner of army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, seen between former presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat, as they gather for a mass protest to support the army in front of the presidential palace in Cairo (Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters).

This article was originally published here at ForeignPolicy.com on Wednesday, August 14, 2013. 

My friend, the late Hassan El Sawaf, was correct. When I spoke to him on the evening of February 11, 2011, he was exuberant. After years of a lonely and personal struggle against Hosni Mubarak’s rule, the dictator was suddenly gone. A new era had begun. The prospects for democracy had never seemed so bright. Read more »

Egypt: Ruling But Not Governing

by Steven A. Cook
A military helicopter flies above Tahrir square as protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi demonstrate in Cairo June 30, 2013 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). A military helicopter flies above Tahrir square as protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi demonstrate in Cairo June 30, 2013 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

Of all the arresting images that emerged from yesterday’s mass protests in Egypt, the ones that struck me most were those of military helicopters dropping Egyptian flags down to the crowds below.  The Egyptian commanders have been pilloried for many things in the last two and a half years, but for a group of people who eschew politics and maintain thinly veiled contempt for politicians, they are shrewd political operators.  After the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, under Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, sullied the image of the senior officer corps—if not the military itself—the Ministry of Defense is in the strongest position it has been in since February 11, 2011. Read more »

The Strong Man at His Weakest

by Steven A. Cook
Supporters hold a poster of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan during a rally of ruling AK party in Istanbul June 16, 2013 (Murad Sezer/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters hold a poster of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan during a rally of ruling AK party in Istanbul June 16, 2013 (Murad Sezer/Courtesy Reuters).

This article was originally published here on ForeignPolicy.com on Wednesday, June 19, 2013.

“Re-cep Tay-yip Er-do-gan! Re-cep Tay-yip Er-do-gan!” chanted supporters of the Turkish prime minister, as a friend and I made our way through the absolutely mammoth crowd that descended on the Kazlicesme area of Istanbul last Sunday to hear their leader speak. As with Erdogan’s rally in the capital, Ankara, the day before, the people who turned out here, many of whom were decked out in scarves, T-shirts, and masks supporting the prime minister, vastly outnumbered the Gezi Park protesters who have captured global headlines. Young, old, well-to-do, decidedly modest, religious, and secular all declared their devotion to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Erdogan. When the prime minister surveyed the 295,000 souls who had come to express their devotion and thundered, “Taksim Square is not Turkey!” it was a vindication of his vision, his economic policies, and the strength of his leadership. Yet the irony was that at Kazlicesme, Erdogan’s demonstration of strength revealed his profound weakness and political vulnerability. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Turkey: Democrats and Liberals, #OccupyGezi, and Fethullah Gulen

by Steven A. Cook
Anti-government protesters and other men pray during Friday prayers in Istanbul's Taksim square June 7, 2013 (Yannis Behrakis/Courtesy Reuters). Anti-government protesters and other men pray during Friday prayers in Istanbul's Taksim square June 7, 2013 (Yannis Behrakis/Courtesy Reuters).

Suat Kiniklioglu discusses the reasons behind Turkey’s democrats and Liberals’ support for the protests, despite their traditional pro-AKP stance.

The OccupyGezi Tumblr blog, with updated pictures of the protests sweeping Turkey. Read more »

Keep Calm, Erdogan

by Steven A. Cook
A demonstrator waves Turkey's national flag as he sits on a monument during a protest against Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AKP in central Ankara, 2013 (Umit Bektas/Courtesy Reuters). A demonstrator waves Turkey's national flag as he sits on a monument during a protest against Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AKP in central Ankara, 2013 (Umit Bektas/Courtesy Reuters).

This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com on Monday, June 3, 2013. 

When Recep Tayyip Erdogan was mayor of Istanbul in the mid-1990s, he did what successful big city mayors do — he made life a little easier for the millions of residents of his beautiful, maddening megalopolis. Erdogan cleaned up the garbage in the streets, unknotted traffic, and literally cleared the air by introducing environmentally friendlier public transportation. Always one for grand ambitions, during his tenure at City Hall the future prime minister made a now often repeated statement to a journalist from the daily Milliyet, “Democracy,” he declared, “is like a tram. You ride it until you arrive at your destination, then you step off.” Read more »

How Democratic Is Turkey?

by Steven A. Cook
An anti-government protester holds Turkey's national flag with a portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, on it during a demostration in Ankara late June 2, 2013 (Umit Bektas/Courtesy Reuters). An anti-government protester holds Turkey's national flag with a portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, on it during a demostration in Ankara late June 2, 2013 (Umit Bektas/Courtesy Reuters).

This article that I co-authored with my good friend and colleague Michael Koplow was originally published on ForeignPolicy.com on Sunday, June 2, 2013.  Read more »

Weekend Reading: Controversy in Jordan, A New Year in Iran, and Religion in Syria

by Steven A. Cook
Tourists stroll at the Grand Bazaar, which was built during the Ottoman-era, in Istanbul (Murad Sezer/Courtesy Reuters). Tourists stroll at the Grand Bazaar, which was built during the Ottoman-era, in Istanbul (Murad Sezer/Courtesy Reuters).

The Jordanian perspective on Jordan’s current political situation and King Abdullah’s recent commentary in the Atlantic. Read more »