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 "Turkey"

Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Turkey’s Executive President

by Steven A. Cook
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan addresses district governors at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey (Kayhan Ozer/Handout/Reuters). Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan addresses district governors at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey (Kayhan Ozer/Handout/Reuters).

A little more than twelve years ago, Turkey began membership negotiations to join the European Union. At the time it seemed to be the conclusion of a four-decade-long Turkish effort to become part of the West. The government of Turkey—then, as now, under the leadership of the Justice and Development Party (AKP)—had not exactly fulfilled all of the requirements to begin the process, but the European Commission reasoned that the very act of opening negotiations on the acquis communautaire would encourage the Turks to fulfill their obligations. I trace the path from this hopeful moment to Turkey’s current authoritarian reality in my upcoming book, False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East. There is neither need nor space to give the whole story away here, but it is important to note that Turkey is about to reach the culmination—or denouement—of this fascinating and, for many Turks, dispiriting tale. Before the week is out, Turkey will become a full-fledged electoral autocracy. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Turkey’s Constitution, Wine in Lebanon, and Iraq’s Provinces

by Steven A. Cook
A Syrian labourer gathers grapes at Chateau Kefraya in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley at the end of the harvest (Jamal Saidi/Reuters). A Syrian labourer gathers grapes at Chateau Kefraya in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley at the end of the harvest (Jamal Saidi/Reuters).

Michael Daventry tracks the voting progress on eighteen amendments to Turkey’s constitution as the so-called “executive presidency” bill makes its way through the Turkish legislature. Read more »

Weekend Reading: A Changing Discourse on Syria, Salman’s Saudi Troubles, and Turkey’s Soft Power

by Steven A. Cook
Saudi King Salman bin Abbulaziz Al-Saud attends the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) 37th Summit in Manama, Bahrain (Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters). Saudi King Salman bin Abbulaziz Al-Saud attends the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) 37th Summit in Manama, Bahrain (Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters).

Nervana Mahmoud considers how the discourse on the Syrian conflict could change in 2017.

Alain Gresh finds that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman can claim few successes in his time as ruler so far. Read more »

Violence for Violence’s Sake

by Steven A. Cook
A nun cries as she stands at the scene inside Cairo's Coptic cathedral, following a bombing, in Egypt (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters). A nun cries as she stands at the scene inside Cairo's Coptic cathedral, following a bombing, in Egypt (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters).

Last weekend was terrible. There were terrorist attacks in Cairo, Istanbul, Mogadishu, Aden, and Maiduguri in Nigeria, killing close to two hundred people. When the news broke of the attack in Cairo, I was spending time with family and friends, one of whom asked me if I was going to be on TV talking about what had happened there and in Istanbul. I am not sure what there was to say. That Egypt and Turkey are under attack? That both countries are unstable? Speculate about the most likely suspects? This ritual seems so banal when friends in both cities are marking themselves “safe” on Facebook. 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). 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 »

Why Turkey Is Salivating for President Trump

by Steven A. Cook
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses police officers and cadets during a conference in Ankara, Turkey (Handout/Reuters). Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses police officers and cadets during a conference in Ankara, Turkey (Handout/Reuters).

This article was originally published here on Politico.com on Thursday, November 24, 2016.

If Turks celebrated Thanksgiving, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s supporters would be giving thanks for U.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump. Read more »

Turkey: Writing “Erdo” Stories

by Steven A. Cook
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters).

Sometime last week, my friend Mustafa Akyol tweeted, “In Turkey, it is so easy and rewarding to give in to ‘Erdoganism’. In the West, it is also easy and rewarding to give in to anti-‘Erdoganism’.” I have been thinking about this remark ever since. The news from Turkey this summer has been relentless and virtually nonstop, beginning with the attack on Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul in late June, the failed coup about two weeks later, and the government’s ongoing purge of the military, the bureaucracy, the academy, and the media. It has been hard to take some time to reflect on the way analysts and journalists study Turkey. Has there been too much emphasis on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the expense of a broader and deeper understanding of what makes Turkey tick? The more I think about it, the more I find the answer to be yes, but also no. Before anyone rolls their eyes, I am not trying to have it both ways. There is indeed too much focus on Erdogan the person, but there are good analytic reasons why the Turkish leader gets so much ink. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Morocco’s Amazigh, Istanbul’s Rent, and the Teacher of al-Minya

by Steven A. Cook
Local Amazigh people attend a rally in celebration of the Amazigh New Year, and also to express solidarity with Libyan Amazigh people, in Rabat (Stringer/Reuters). Local Amazigh people attend a rally in celebration of the Amazigh New Year, and also to express solidarity with Libyan Amazigh people, in Rabat (Stringer/Reuters).

Celeste Hicks examines the political struggle of the Amazigh community in Morocco to designate Tamazight as an official state language. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Literature and Resistance in Turkey, Art and the Dictator, and a Year in Yemen

by Steven A. Cook
A farm boy, with his face covered with sand, is pictured as he leaves the farm he works on, near Sanaa, Yemen (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters). A farm boy, with his face covered with sand, is pictured as he leaves the farm he works on, near Sanaa, Yemen (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters).

Pinar Tremblay discovers that literary magazines in Turkey have become increasingly useful as a means of communicating messages of popular resistance while easily evading censorship. Read more »

Turkey Is No Longer a Reliable Ally

by Steven A. Cook
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters). Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters).

This article was originally published here in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, August 11, 2016.

The meeting this week between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin and their vow to expand bilateral relations is the latest sign of deteriorating U.S.-Turkish relations since Turkey’s failed coup last month. Read more »