Despite decades of russian propaganda, the Arab world is beginning to hear the truth — Democratic Initiatives Foundation
A conversation about the Arab world, Russian propaganda, and why the Middle East is important to Ukraine.
The guest is Maria Zolkina, head of the Regional Security and Conflict Research department of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation named after Ilko Kucheriv.
Maria Zolkina: Qatar officially adheres to the policy of neutrality in the Russian-Ukrainian War. At the same time, the country is a member of Rammstein. However Qatar does not send us weapons and does not provide us with defense assistance. The Arabic TV channel Al-Jazeera, which covers the entire Arabic-speaking audience in the world, shares the same position. This was manifested in the fact that in 99% of their broadcasts about Ukraine, a Russian opponent was present.
The content about Ukraine provided by the channel is adequate. They call the war «war,” aggression, and show footage from Kyiv, Mykolaiv, and Kherson. The picture they present is objective. The questions asked by the presenters are also adequate. In such a situation, Russian propaganda finds itself in a difficult position, as it has worked in the Arabic-speaking world not for years, but for decades. Of course, there are certain narratives that exist there, but Russian propaganda is now trying to «leave» these main narratives.
The main Russian narratives in the Arabic-speaking world
Maria Zolkina: Russian opponents constantly repeat the same messages.
- «Ukraine is a puppet of the United States.» «This is not an independent government and state.» «The US is bad, and this is their war in Ukraine.»
America is not a white and fluffy international player for the Middle East. Everyone remembers Iraq. The US supports Israel, which, in turn, makes it in constant confrontation with the Arab world over Palestine. That is why this narrative exists.
- «Ukraine is incapable of winning.»
In Qatar, for example, it is quite difficult to assess the scale of resistance of the Ukrainian society and the army. Russia continues to talk about being a powerful military force. However, our arguments are also heard, and Ukraine’s resistance shocked the whole world.
- «Ukraine will still be surrendered territorially by its partners.»
Russians constantly say that someone is playing with Ukraine.
- «The Russian army is advancing.»
We break down this narrative with facts and concrete examples. Russian propaganda crumbles when they are asked the right questions.
Why does Ukraine need the support of the Middle East?
Maria Zolkina: We need the Middle East because they have oil and gas. We need North Africa for it to vote in the UN in accordance with the norms of international law. We need their voice. The Arabic-speaking world is complex but very important to us. We need their weapons, gas, oil, and support with votes.