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 "Terrorism"

Weekend Reading: No Way to Defeat Takfiris, Handicapping Turkey’s Elections, and Syria’s borders.

by Steven A. Cook
Supporters of Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan wave Turkish and AK Party (AKP) flags during an election rally in Istanbul March 23, 2014 (Murad Sezer/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan wave Turkish and AK Party (AKP) flags during an election rally in Istanbul March 23, 2014 (Murad Sezer/Courtesy Reuters).

Nader Bakkar says that harsh punishment, such as the recent wave of death sentences on Muslim Brotherhood members, is no way to combat radical takfiri ideology. 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 »

Turkey’s Summer of Discontent: Ergenekon Blues

by Steven A. Cook
Former Chief of the Turkish General Staff Ilker Basbug (Umit Bektas/Courtesy Reuters). Former Chief of the Turkish General Staff Ilker Basbug (Umit Bektas/Courtesy Reuters).

With the dramatic developments in Egypt over the last month, Turkey has fallen out of the news even though it has been an eventful summer along the Bosphorus.  The opposition to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that began after authorities tried to clear Istanbul’s Gezi Park in late May has proven more durable than virtually everyone predicted.  The government has responded to this political turbulence with a variety of coercive measures making Erdogan’s illiberal turn appear to be downright authoritarian.  At the same time, Ankara’s strategic position in the Middle East continues to crumble.  The prime minister’s reaction to Egypt’s July 3 coup d’état may be principled, but his harsh and oddly emotional rhetoric has alienated yet another important Middle Eastern country.  In an irony of ironies, the Egyptian press recently reported that if Erdogan makes a much-delayed visit to Gaza in late August, he will have to do it through Israel.  That makes Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq the major regional powers with whom Turkey is at odds. 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 »

The EU+Hizballah=Cynicism

by Steven A. Cook
The Achille Lauro (Courtesy Reuters). The Achille Lauro (Courtesy Reuters).

Hizballah has been in the news recently.  The group that a senior U.S. government official once described as the “ ‘A-team’ of terrorism,” took a back seat to al-Qaeda over the last decade.  Prior to the attacks on New York and Washington in September 2001, Hizballah was responsible for more American deaths than any other organization on the State Department’s list of terrorists.  The most spectacular of Hizabllah’s operations since the organization’s founding in 1982 was the destruction of the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in the spring of 1983.  More recently, the Bulgarian government fingered Hizballah for the July 2012 bus bombing that killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver in the resort town of Burgas.  Also, the New York Times reported last week that the Lebanese newspaper, al Akhbar—a pro-Hizballah daily—has been engaged in an effort to intimidate prosecution witnesses set to appear before the International Criminal Court, which is trying four members of Hizballah for the murder of former Prime Rafik Harriri.  Then there are the thousands of Hizballah fighters in Syria supporting the Assad regime in that country’s civil war. Read more »