DCFR was fortunate to host Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies Dr. Steven Cook, yesterday. He came to discuss his body of work on Egypt and his latest book, “The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square.” One amazing point that pretty much summed up his authority: He was there. Dr. Cook was in Tahrir Square during the events that brought down the Mubarak regime. It’s not just that he was there the day many thousands defied the authoritarian regime, Cook also has a long-standing history with and first-hand knowledge of Egypt. Cook is an expert on Egypt, that just seems to have this uncanny penchant for being in the right place at the right time, from what we learned of his dealings and adventures in Egypt.
A few of his cautionary words were striking. First, he projects a long good-bye between the U.S. and Egypt, as the U.S. is not particularly popular in Egypt after supporting Mubarak for many decades. A new relationship will have to be forged with a delicate hand by the U.S. Second, the Egyptians are about to write a new constitution — just one year after 60 years of authoritarian rule. This is 4G fast by any standards, considering the country and its leadership very recently collapsed. And finally, with Egypt’s economy collapsing, current power brokers will need to find a vision for the development path of Egypt that makes sense. They do not currently have a Deng Xiaoping pro-development champion, as one DCFR member noted.
Dr. Cook also writes the blog, “From the Potomac to the Euphrates” at CFR.