Steven A. Cook

From the Potomac to the Euphrates

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

Weekend Reading: Islamic Sustainability, Cairo’s Traffic Goes Mobile, and Recycling in Qatar

by Steven A. Cook Friday, March 14, 2014
Anti-Morsi protesters hold up posters of Egypt's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a protest supporting al-Sisi in front of the state television building in central Cairo (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). Anti-Morsi protesters hold up posters of Egypt's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a protest supporting al-Sisi in front of the state television building in central Cairo (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

Arwa Aburawa interviews Professor Al Jayoussi about Islamic notions of sustainability.

Tafline Laylin discusses an award-winning Egyptian traffic app that helps users avoid the legendary Cairo traffic. Read more »

Saudi, The MB, and The Politics of Terrorism

by Steven A. Cook Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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 »

Ukraine’s Uprising: More Than an Economic Crisis

by Steven A. Cook Monday, March 3, 2014
An aerial view shows Independence Square during clashes between anti-government protesters and Interior Ministry members and riot police in central Kiev (Olga Yakimovich/Courtesy Reuters). An aerial view shows Independence Square during clashes between anti-government protesters and Interior Ministry members and riot police in central Kiev (Olga Yakimovich/Courtesy Reuters).

This article was originally published here on Fortune.com on Friday, February 28, 2014.

Over the last three years, as uprisings and demonstrations have erupted around the world, journalists, pundits, and other analysts have wrongly drawn parallels between these events. When protests broke out in Istanbul last spring, some news outlets wondered whether Taksim Square was Turkey’s “Tahrir Square” — a reference to the now iconic traffic roundabout in central Cairo where Egyptian demonstrations brought an end to then president Hosni Mubarak’s rule in early 2011. Read more »

Why is Sami Enan Running for President?

by Steven A. Cook Monday, February 24, 2014
Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi (R), former head of Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), with his former Chief of Staff Sami Enan (Mohamed Abd El-Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi (R), former head of Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), with his former Chief of Staff Sami Enan (Mohamed Abd El-Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

On February 17, Lieutenant-General Sami Enan, Egypt’s former armed forces chief-of-staff, announced that he would be running for president. One can be forgiven for asking: Why?  Enan’s candidacy seems impractical and impracticable. Based on what is known publicly, which actually is not very much, it is widely assumed that Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will be the military’s candidate.  It seems hard to imagine that if al-Sisi runs, he would have much trouble winning.  Despite the crude propaganda in the form of al-Sisi sweets, sandwiches, pajamas, posters, t-shirts, and odes to the man, there are many Egyptians who seem inclined—at this moment—to want the Field Marshal’s firm hand.  Enan, whose sterling reputation was tarnished during the 18 months he was the second-in-command of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, does not have the kind of broad appeal of al-Sisi.  So what is going on?  Why does Sami Enan want to be the president?  As with everything in Egypt, Enan’s candidacy may (or may not) be a bit more complicated than a man with an ambition to lead a great country back from the brink. Read more »