The most recent post on the Arabist Blog by user “issander el amrani” entitled Morsi, More Yeltsin than Putin? cites an article by James Traub in Foreign Policy which compares President Morsi of Egypt to Boris Yeltsin and current President Vladimir Putin, both of Russia. Amrani’s post seeks mostly to inform others who may not have seen the article, but it is in fact Traub’s assertion that is more interesting. Traub asserts that Morsi has more in common with former Russian President Yeltsin for his strong-handed management of a weak system, as opposed to the overbearing and unwavering Putin he has more recently been compared to (Traub, 2013).
While all of this is interesting, neither is really comparable to Morsi, and as such any comparison is really futile on the whole, especially by a Westerner. Yeltsin and Putin both followed a strictly anti-religious regime with much longer standing than Hosni Mubarek. Interestingly enough, however, neither emerged from a party that actively affiliated itself with a set religious culture (let’s recall, it’s the MUSLIM Brotherhood), likely because the religious culture of Russia had been so repressed for so long. The Middle East is a different story. Despite oppressive governments, religious ideals have remained as much a part of the culture as anything else, providing a strong sense of faith to rally around. A major facet of the current protests against President Morsi is the sentiment that the people were misled and that the mix of secular leadership and social religious culture that they seem to seek will be denied by the elected administration, who have continued to hold onto many powers that were promised to be relinquished following the election of something more than a transitional government. The situation in Egypt is so different from the fall of the Soviet Union and the current leadership of President Putin that one can not confuse the two. Morsi is his own entity who must be assessed and dealt with in a unique way.