Robin Yassin-Kassab

A Key to All Conspiracies

with one comment

I’ve written a long essay for the Critical Muslim’s Ignorance issue on conspiracy theories. (Buy it from Amazon, or direct from the publisher, Hurst.) The essay covers myths about polio vaccines in Pakistan, and anti-semitic conspiracy theories in Arab countries, as well as Great Replacement Theory, ‘psy-ops’ and ‘crisis actors’, the Brexit myth, the reductive simplicities of ‘anti-imperialism’, and conspiracy theories as our age’s latest, most debased substitute for classical religion.

The extract below is perhaps the part which is most immediately relevant to our news cycle:

A few weeks into the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, a Pakistani friend sent me a clip of Russia’s chief diplomat Sergei Lavrov engaging in such bluster.

“If you cannot sleep because of Russian Ukrainian conflict,” Lavrov said, “there are some advices to calm you down. First, imagine that this is happening in Africa. Imagine this is happening in the Middle East. Imagine Ukraine is Palestine. Imagine Russia is the United States.”

Such a strange logic is implied here. Lavrov is saying something like: ‘Yes, I’m a murderer, but that guy over there is also a murderer.’ And his implied audience is nodding and smiling, patting him on the back. His implied audience doesn’t stop for a moment to consider that Russia is currently killing civilians in Syria, which is in the Middle East, or that the Wagner Group, mercenaries closely linked to the Russian state, is currently killing civilians in Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic, which are in Africa. His implied audience – which is real, and enormous – follows the logic that we shouldn’t complain about the Russian invasion of Ukraine because in 2003 America invaded Iraq. Forget about the rights of Ukrainians. And look what happens when we keep the logic going: We shouldn’t complain about the invasion of Iraq because the Russians destroyed Chechnya. We shouldn’t complain about Chechnya because the Americans violently intervened in Central America. We shouldn’t complain about central America because the Russians invaded Afghanistan. We shouldn’t complain about Afghanistan because the Americans bombed Vietnam. And so it goes on. Forget everybody’s rights. Just talk about the chess game.

 Lavrov says such stuff because he knows that it works. He knows his audience, and the power of binarism, and the human need to see goodies and baddies.

So Kémi Séba, a Franco-Beninese pan-Africanist, describes the invasion of Ukraine thus: Putin “wants to get his country back. He doesn’t have the blood of slavery and colonisation on his hands.”

This betrays ignorance of the long history of slavery (or serfdom) within Russia, and of the continual outward expansion of the Russian state to absorb the Muslim lands of the Caucuses and central Asia and the Buddhist and animist territories of Siberia and east Asia. It betrays ignorance of the many genocides perpetrated by Russian imperialism on non-Russian peoples, and most pertinently of the Holodomor of the 1930s, in which four million Ukrainian peasants were starved on Moscow’s orders.

‘Anti-imperialists’ like to remind us that Crimea used to belong to Russia. They don’t remind us that Crimea used to belong to the Tatars, a Muslim people deported en masse from their homeland by Stalin’s imperialist terror.

According to the 2022 Democracy Perception Index, Egyptians, Saudis, Moroccans and Pakistanis have a net positive view of Russia – not only after the burning of Ukraine, but after Russia’s recent mass slaughter of Muslims in Syria, Chechnya and Afghanistan.

This turns the notion of Muslim solidarity across the umma into a ridiculous joke.


Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

October 7, 2022 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. When I was in Luxor a few years back there was a building with a massive portrait of Putin outside it. I never managed to establish what organisation occupied the building. But large parts of the third world (as well as the UK left) are animated by anti-Americanism pretty much as an overriding principle, as far as I can tell.

    Two Sheds Ted

    October 8, 2022 at 1:18 pm

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