From Cairo to Kiev: A Critique of Abdallah Schleifer’s “Flip-Flop” Article
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
The Russian invasion of the Crimea at the end of February, 2014, and the inability of anyone or any country in the world to do anything about it raises questions about the future of Russian expansionism not only throughout the “Former Soviet Union” in Central Asia but in Southwest Asia, including in Syria and Iran.
For historians, however, equally important are questions of whether and why the United States “interfered” in Russia’s “backyard” by opposing the pro-Russian ruler of the Ukraine, Yanukovich, and supporting the popular revolution in the Western Ukraine against him.
In The American Muslim’s February 26th posting in English of Abdallah Schleifer’s original Al Arabiya article, “American Flip-Flop from Cairo to Kiev”, we have what in the American media is a unique perspective on these two historical questions. The embarrassment of President Obama’s inability to do anything about the Russian invasion of the Crimea may raise the question whether he was partly responsible by supporting the overthrow of the pro-Russian Yanukovich, which led to the invasion.
Professor Schleifer collects some facts that support the bad-guy, pro-Russian Yanukovich, rather than the good guys who regarded the Ukraine as European and the Russians as Asiatic, which has been a hot issue ever since Moscow replaced Kiev as the seat of Slavic civilization centuries ago
The theme of Dr. Schleifer’s article is that the United States was inconsistent by backing the legitimately elected Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt after the popular revolutionary movement against it last year, which resulted in a predictable military takeover, while failing to back the equally legitimately elected Yanukovich government in the Ukraine after a similar popular revolution.
In fact, the U.S. government supported the revolutionary movement of the Arab Spring, which resulted in the Muslim Brotherhood gaining power, just as it supported the revolutionary movement against Yanukovich. Only later did the U.S. government oppose the revolutionary movement against the MB, even though it resulted in part because the visionless, intransigent, and incompetent Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership failed to accomplish anything except support the military plutocracy in order to maintain the MB’s political power.
An important difference between Cairo and Kiev is that the decisive coup in Egypt occurred within the Muslim Brotherhood a year before the Arab Spring started, when for the second time in its eighty-year history, as described in my article, “Flameout of the Muslim Brotherhood” in the 2013-2014 edition of The Muslim 500, a reactionary element staged a successful coup within the Muslim Brotherhood. This precluded it from supporting a constitution that was civil rather than religious but could have included all the human rights inherent in Islam and in the so-called liberal opposition. Perhaps this authoritarian transformation could be compared with the Yanukovich move toward authoritarian government after, rather than before, he was elected.
Nevertheless, Professor Schleifer, makes a profound comparison between the U.S. decision to support the Muslim Brotherhood as the best way to marginalize Al Qa’ida and the U.S. decision to support socialism against Communism as the only way to prevent a Communist takeover of Western Europe after World War II.
The difference, however, is that the Muslim Brotherhood, unlike socialism, is pluralistic, as shown by the enlightened leadership of Shaykh Rachid al Ghannouchi in Tunisia, who appears to be demonstrating that so-called “political Islam” can be a model of everything for which America was founded more than two centuries ago.