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 "Tunisia"

Weekend Reading: Ben Ali’s Flight, the Nawari of Gaza, and Algeria’s Independence Reconsidered

by Steven A. Cook
Tunisia's President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali addresses the nation in this still image taken from video, January 13, 2011 (Tunisian State TV/Handout/Reuters).

Middle East Eye interviews Mahmoud Cheikhrouhou, the pilot who flew Tunisia’s ousted president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, to Saudi Arabia in January 2011. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Russia in the Levant, the Uprising in Alexandria, and Tunisians Look Back

by Steven A. Cook
People wave national flags during celebrations marking the sixth anniversary of Tunisia's 2011 revolution in Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis, Tunisia (Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters).

Ibrahim Hamidi finds parallels between Russian activity in Syria today and French military expansion in the Levant in the 1920s.

Youssef El Chazli recreates the events of the first day of Egypt’s 2011 uprising as they unfolded in Alexandria. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Tunisian Economics, Assad and the Jihadis, and Palestinians in Egypt

by Steven A. Cook
Tunisian lawyers demonstrate against the government's proposed new taxes, near the courthouse in Tunis, Tunisia (Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters).

Francis Ghiles finds that persistent economic problems threaten the stability and success of Tunisia’s democratic transition.

Elias Muhanna speculates on the relationship between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and jihadi groups. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Tension in Turkey, Kuwait’s Election, and Reexamining Tunisian History

by Steven A. Cook
Kuwaiti women cast their votes during parliamentary election in a polling station in Kuwait City, Kuwait (Stringer/Reuters).

Nick Ashdown discusses the tense political and social climate in Turkey in the months after the failed coup attempt.

Habib Toumi argues that reforms to Kuwait’s electoral law in July 2006 have succeeded in diminishing the influence of large tribal coalitions in last weekend’s parliamentary elections. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Tunisia’s Saints, Egyptians React to the U.S. Election, and the Battle for Mosul Pictured

by Steven A. Cook
A member of Shi'ite fighters carries a weapon during a battle with Islamic State militants at the airport of Tal Afar west of Mosul, Iraq (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters).

Inel Tarfa explores Tunisia’s heritage of Sufi saints, which has come under attack by Islamist militants in recent years.

Shahira Amin finds that while there are those in Egypt who either support or oppose the election of Donald J. Trump to the U.S. presidency, most Egyptians remain ambivalent. Read more »

Thinking About Culture and the Middle East

by Steven A. Cook
Tunisian lawyers gather as they demonstrate against the government's proposed new taxes, near the courthouse, in Tunis, Tunisia (Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters).

I read Ross Douthat’s column in the New York Times every Sunday. I guess that qualifies me as a fan, but it’s not that I agree with everything he writes. On at least one occasion, I thought his column was downright weird. For the most part, though, I appreciate his insights into cultural and religious conservatives that are the bread and butter of his work. On Sunday, October 9, he offered his readers a piece called “Among the Post-Liberals.” It was an exposition on how the “new radicals,” “new reactionaries,” and “religious dissenters” within the West are engaged in trenchant critiques of the Western, liberal, democratic, capitalist order, though none of these groups have developed a unified theory of what ails this system or of what should come next. Of Douthat’s 808 words, it was the following passage that really grabbed me: Read more »

Weekend Reading: Syria’s Trauma, Tunisia’s Sayings, and Egypt’s Economic Woes

by Steven A. Cook
People who fled from Islamic State-controlled areas arrive in the northern Syrian rebel-held town of Waqf, near al-Rai town, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria (Khalil Ashawi/Reuters).

Peter Harling delves into the political and psychological trauma that the Syrian conflict’s victims and fighters suffer from.

Inel Tarfa guides readers through the world of Tunisian sayings and proverbs. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Tunisia’s Beggars, Post-Islamist Islamists, and Assyrians in Syria

by Steven A. Cook
2016Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (L), talks with Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement, during the congress of the Ennahda Movement in Tunis, Tunisia (Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters).

Inel Tarfa interviews street beggars in Tunis, who express a complete lack of faith in the Tunisian government.

Nervana Mahmoud remains skeptical of Rachid al-Ghannouchi’s plan to divorce political Islam from his Tunisian Islamist party Ennahda. Read more »

Memorial Day Weekend Reading

by Steven A. Cook
Almost three thousand American soldiers—of whom 287 remain unknown—are buried just outside of Tunis (Photo by Steven A. Cook).

In the national collective memory of World War II, the North African campaign is often forgotten. Almost three thousand Americans were killed there in battles that took place between 1941 and 1945. Some of the earliest direct engagements of the war between U.S. and German forces took place in Tunisia, between the cities of Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine. There is no better book about this period than Rick Atkinson’s An Army At Dawn. Enjoy.

Tunisia: On the Road to Nowhere

by Steven A. Cook
A monument to Mohammed al-Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid (Photo by Steven A. Cook).

“The only things [that have] changed are the names of the streets. They used to be [called] November 7, now they are [called] December 17.”

A young Tunisian said this to me in Sidi Bouzid on Sunday. For those less familiar with Tunisian history, on November 7, 1987, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali pushed the country’s founder, Habib Bourguiba, from power in a palace coup, and December 17, 2010, is the day when Mohammed al-Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of the governorate building in Sidi Bouzid—an act of desperation that began the Tunisian uprising that deposed Ben Ali almost a month later. The quote is a simple and powerful rebuke to the oft-repeated phrase that Tunisia is “the one Arab Spring success story.” The country is not yet a success, but it also is not a failure. Read more »