Sunday, 7 April 2013

Russia & The Arabs

Review: Russia and the Arabs by Yevgeni Primakov

The Britons had their gunboat diplomacy and the Yanks do their cowboy diplomacy, whereas the Russians employ tact in their dealings with the Arabs. Of course, given its proximity to the region it is in Russia’s interest to maintain healthy relations with the nations of the Middle East.

Primakov reveals a deep understanding of the culture and history of the Arabs and offers us many valuable insights as to why this region is engulfed in turmoil. The Soviet Union was always sympathetic to nationalist and progressive regimes in the Arab world and steered clear of any political movements with religious leanings. America, on the other hand, did the exact opposite: “As far back as the 1950s, the United States decided that its main pillars of support in the Arab world were those who not only stood up for Muslim values but were willing to resort to terrorist methods to do so” (p. 91). No less revealing is the fact that the CIA were accomplices to terrorist activities carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood.

What Primakov wants us to see is that Islamism and its attendant terrorism are the products of American machinations in the Middle East. Even more tellingly, he traces the roots of Middle East terrorism to the pioneers of Israel: namely the terrorist group Lehi, the ranks of which included the future prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Shamir, and the terrorist group Etzel, whose leader, Menachem Begin, also went on to become the prime minister of the state of Israel.

Behind the diplomat’s facade one can sense no small amount of glee, as Primakov offers us his reflections on the quagmire in which the Yanks find themselves in Iraq (y. 2006). And he reminds us of the following: “Freedom fighters and terrorists are not the same thing; there can be no justification for conflating the two” (p. 366). Thus he condones the battle of the Iraqi Resistance against the American imperialists. This book is sure to be unpalatable to the average American, but as far as the civilised world is concerned, Primakov is merely speaking common sense.