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 "Saudi Arabia"

The Contest for Regional Leadership in the New Middle East

by Steven A. Cook
Free Syrian Army fighters pose on a tank, which they say was captured from the Syrian army loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, after clashes in Qasseer, near Homs (Shaam News Network/Courtesy Reuters). Free Syrian Army fighters pose on a tank, which they say was captured from the Syrian army loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, after clashes in Qasseer, near Homs (Shaam News Network/Courtesy Reuters).

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) just published this report that I coauthored with Jacob Stokes, Bacevich fellow at  CNAS, and my research associate Alexander Brock.

“The Contest for Regional Leadership in the New Middle East” shows how, in addition to the historic political change occurring within the major states of the Middle East, there is a transformative process underway remaking the dynamics among the states of the region. The reordering of the geopolitics of the region has exposed rivalries among the contenders for leadership, as well as different ideological, economic, nationalistic and sectarian agendas. The report argues that Washington has sought to accommodate these changes in a way that continues to secure its strategic interests. What role the United States will play in a “new Middle East” is the subject of intense debate among Americans, Arabs and Turks. Nevertheless, it is clear that with all the problems regional powers have confronted trying to shape the politics of the region, American leadership will continue to be indispensable. Read more »

How Personal Politics Drive Conflict in the Gulf

by Guest Blogger for Steven A. Cook
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (Louafi Larbi/Courtesy Reuters). Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (Louafi Larbi/Courtesy Reuters).

David Roberts, lecturer in the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London, based at the Joaan Bin Jassim Staff College in Qatar, offers expert insight into the recent tensions among the major GCC states.

“I love all the countries of the Gulf, and they all love me.” With this less than subtle statement, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the vocal Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood scholar tried to do his part to repair regional relations in the Gulf that have badly frayed in recent weeks. Long-brewing discontent erupted in early March with the unprecedented withdrawal of the Saudi, Emirati, and Bahraini ambassadors from Qatar. Subsequent mediation from Kuwait’s Emir has led the protagonists to the cusp of a modus vivendi, and a vague document has been agreed upon. Read more »

Weekend Listening/Viewing/Reading: Satire in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s “Garden,” and Lebanese Relief Workers

by Steven A. Cook
Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) employees count votes at an analysis centre in Baghdad May 2, 2014 (Thaier Al-Sudani/Courtesy Reuters). Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) employees count votes at an analysis centre in Baghdad May 2, 2014 (Thaier Al-Sudani/Courtesy Reuters).
Karl Sharro discusses Lebanese politics and the role of satire in political analysis of the Middle East on Karl Morand’s Middle East Week Podcast. Read more »

Saudi, The MB, and The Politics of Terrorism

by Steven A. Cook
A supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, wearing a headband that reads "We all are Rabaa", takes part in a protest against the military and interior ministry (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters). A supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, wearing a headband that reads "We all are Rabaa", takes part in a protest against the military and interior ministry (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Last Friday, the Saudi government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, lumping the Brothers in with Jabhat al Nusra, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and al Qaeda.   The announcement was not terribly surprising.  Riyadh has proven to be Cairo’s staunchest patron since the July 3 coup d’état and both governments have led the effort to delegitimize the Brotherhood ever since.  This actually has much more to do with politics than it does with terrorism, which prompted me to tweet: Read more »

Weekend Reading: America’s Quagmire?, an Egyptian Thanksgiving, and Foreign Workers No Longer in Saudi

by Steven A. Cook
Yemeni workers, deported from Saudi Arabia, wait to leave a bus on which they were deported, at the Saudi al-Tewal border outpost with Yemen (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters). Yemeni workers, deported from Saudi Arabia, wait to leave a bus on which they were deported, at the Saudi al-Tewal border outpost with Yemen (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters).

Ammar Abdulhamid looks at the consequences of U.S. inaction in Syria and elsewhere.

Maged Atiya remembers his first Thanksgiving. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Morocco’s Monarchy, Saudi’s Seat, and Turkey’s Turn on Syria

by Steven A. Cook
An Iraqi Kurdish man shows his ink-stained finger after voting during regional parliamentary elections at a polling station in Erbil (Azad Lashkari/Courtesy Reuters). An Iraqi Kurdish man shows his ink-stained finger after voting during regional parliamentary elections at a polling station in Erbil (Azad Lashkari/Courtesy Reuters).

Samia Errazzouki examines Morocco’s new cabinet, and argues that authoritarian politics remains the dominant trend in the country.

Maya Gebeily discusses the irony of Saudi Arabia’s decision to sit out its turn on the UN Security Council. Read more »

The Object of India’s Ire

by Steven A. Cook
The arches at Ferguson College. Pune, India. The arches at Ferguson College. Pune, India.

Pune, India–My last two posts from India looked at the mistrust with which many Indians view the United States and the way in which the Palestine issue plays out here.  There is no consensus on these issues, though.  My meetings in Mumbai and Pune over the last few days have made it abundantly clear that along with those who are wary of American foreign policy, there are strong advocates of close U.S.-India ties.  In addition, there are Indians who see the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in terms far different from my interlocutors in Lucknow and Chennai.  As one academic specialist in international relations told me today, “India is Israel’s only true friend in Asia.”  Yet there seems to be one country that has brought Indians across the country’s boisterous political spectrum together in shared enmity.  If you guessed Pakistan, you would be correct, but that Indians generally despise Pakistan is a given—a lay-up for anyone who has ever glanced at a newspaper every now and again.  Besides Pakistan, which is widely regarded as a rogue, terrorist state here, Indians have expressed a deep and abiding dislike for Saudi Arabia. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Lebanon and Iran in Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and Rock Like an Egyptian

by Steven A. Cook
A man reads El-Watan newspaper at Tahrir square in Cairo, May 12, 2013 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). A man reads El-Watan newspaper at Tahrir square in Cairo, May 12, 2013 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

Thanassis Cambanis claims that Lebanon’s Hizballah and the clerical regime in Iran are now fully vested factions in Syria’s civil war.

Hicham Mourad discusses the uneasy relationship between Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the leaders in Saudi Arabia. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Israel’s Defense, Saudi’s Trials, and Egypt’s War on Women

by Steven A. Cook
Muslim children read verses from the Koran at al-Amin mosque, in downtown Beirut, during the holy month of Ramadan (Jamal Saidi/Courtesy Reuters). Muslim children read verses from the Koran at al-Amin mosque, in downtown Beirut, during the holy month of Ramadan (Jamal Saidi/Courtesy Reuters).

Brent Sasley compares former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to the newcomer in the position, Moshe Ya’alon.

The Saudi Twittersphere is stirring in reaction to the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) Trial. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Saudi Tweets, Ennahda’s Decline, and Ramadan’s Odd Missive

by Steven A. Cook
A clergyman sits at his bookshop in Tabriz historic market, 633 km (393 miles) northwest of Tehran (Morteza Nikoubazl/Courtesy Reuters). A clergyman sits at his bookshop in Tabriz historic market, 633 km (393 miles) northwest of Tehran (Morteza Nikoubazl/Courtesy Reuters).

An interview with anonymous Twitter user @Mujtahidd, who has been tweeting provocative things about Saudi Arabia’s rulers.

An article from Muftah, discussing the declining credibility of Tunisia’s Ennahda party. Read more »