Steven A. Cook

From the Potomac to the Euphrates

Cook examines developments in the Middle East and their resonance in Washington.

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Turkey"

The Deep State Mirage in Turkey

by Steven A. Cook
People wear masks depicting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during the Democracy and Martyrs Rally (Umit Bektas/Reuters).

This article originally appeared here in the Cipher Brief on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.

The so-called “deep state” is like dark matter. There is wide belief in countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Pakistan that it exists, but no one has ever actually seen it. The term has now—rather surprisingly—become a part of the political lexicon in the United States. Among many others, President Donald J. Trump’s senior policy advisor, Stephen K. Bannon, and prominent radio personality Rush Limbaugh have invoked the deep state to explain the damaging leaks that have come out of the White House, and allegedly the intelligence community, during the administration’s first 60 days in office. These claims have been met with significant criticism, but it seems that in the polarized political environment that characterizes the United States today, the idea of the deep state is here to stay. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Egypt’s Colonial Laws, Building a New Cairo, and Erdogan’s Early Life

by Steven A. Cook
Buildings and houses are seen through the window of an airplane above Cairo (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters).

The Project on Middle East Democracy interviews Mohamed El Ansary on the use of a colonial-era law by the Egyptian state to contain unrest and crush demonstrations. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Islam and Liberalism, Lebanon’s Christians, and Turkey’s Dwindling Syria Options

by Steven A. Cook
Turkish soldiers participate in an exercise on the border line between Turkey and Syria near the southeastern city of Kilis, Turkey (Murad Sezer/Reuters).

Nervana Mahmoud critiques Brookings scholar Shadi Hamid’s assertion that illiberal Islam is a viable future for Muslim societies.

Tarek Osman explores the relationship between Lebanese Christians and foreign protectors, especially in light of French presidential contender Marine Le Pen’s visit last month. Read more »

The Deep State Comes to America

by Steven A. Cook
U.S. President Donald Trump announces his new National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster (L) and that acting adviser Keith Kellogg (R) will become the chief of staff of the National Security Council at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters).

This article was originally published here on ForeignPolicy.com on Friday, February 24, 2017.

In the months and weeks leading up to the summer 2013 coup d’état in Egypt that brought Mohamed Morsi’s presidency to an end, Egyptians encountered one economic challenge after another. Blackouts had become commonplace, the tourism industry was dead, foreign investment was nonexistent, and the government was flirting with a solvency crisis. All of this meant severe hardship for the millions of Egyptians who had hoped that the end of former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime would bring them the “bread, freedom, and social justice” so many had demanded in Tahrir Square a few years earlier. Read more »

Are We Experiencing a Slow-Motion, Turkish-Style Coup? Or Our Own Arab Spring?

by Steven A. Cook
A police officer walks past people as they gather to protest against the travel ban imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order, at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Dallas, Texas (Laura Buckman/Reuters).

This article was originally published here on Salon.com on Sunday, February 5, 2017. Read more »

Middle East Derangement Syndrome: Egypt, Turkey and Israel Have All Fallen Prey to Delusions About Trump

by Steven A. Cook
Donald Trump arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington before his inauguration (Win McNamee/Pool/Reuters).

This article was originally published here on Salon.com on Sunday, January 22, 2017. Read more »

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).

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 »