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Since the beginning of the Arab Spring revolutions the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become a broad goal for information-wars. The purpose of this expanded campaign is to discredit the UAE in the international and regional arena and also to build an “enemy” image for the UAE in the Arab consciousness. For the sake of this goal, all possible information channels whether through classic or digital media are being used. That smear campaign has been intensified after the recent normalization agreement between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv.
If we move on to the last ten years, we can prominently find that the state and government of the United Arab Emirates are under continuous negative media influence on the Muslim Brotherhood’s channels, and here we mean the media of the State of Qatar and the State of Turkey.
In general, in the last 20 years, the process of using information and telecommunications (technology, Internet) has been developed widely, which led to the emergence of the social media platforms that became a separate and independent theater of operations.
Unfortunately, the result of the war launched through media, the first victims were the citizens Yemen, Libya, Egypt and recently Tunisia. This has been keeping harming the reputation of the UAE that it is weaving many conspiracies in these countries in order to increase its control on it.
The Information war against Abu Dhabi has prevailed manifestly in the attacks followed some important incidents in the Arabian Gulf region or with those directly associated the conflicts in Yemen and Libya or the crisis of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and these campaigns came after the news of the Qatari boycott and finally normalization decision. This fight is being carried out through a periodic rhythmic campaigns represented in the “false news” about the Emirati role in these conflicts and about the goals of the normalization decision.
In this article, we are analyzing the fake news published about the UAE using one of the most important social media networks, Twitter. Using certain hashtags in this widely used platform, the UAE state and the Emirati people are depicted as “enemy” for the Arabs.
Within the framework of this topic, we study one of the methods of Information war fare, namely “designing the enemy’s image”. Actually, information warfare isunderstood as “a purposeful and wide-ranging treatment of meanings: creating, destroying, modifying, imposing and blocking meaning-holders through the means of information to achieve specific goals.
One of the most effective methods today is building the enemy’s image. The image of the enemy justifies the “hostile rhetoric” of one country to distort the reputation of the “enemy country” in the eyes of the Arabs. This process contains many forms of manipulating with meanings:
- Creating false information
- Disseminating this information widely
- Create a hostile-sentiment towards the state that is the target of this war
Through these tools, we find that in the Arab countries and through the Qatari and Turkish media, a negative image of the UAE is being depicted, and then it is introduced into the consciousness of the Arab region’s residents. Consequently, a negative Arab public opinion is being formed regarding the policy of the UAE and its leaders.
Practical stages on the way of forming the “image of enemy”
1- Designing the image of the UAE as an enemy in the Arab and international media and social media
2- Forming negative public opinion of the population in the region with regard to the policies of the UAE as a whole
3- Trying to depicting the “enemy image inside the UAE through different means of social netwroks.
4- Configuring the negative public opinion among Emirati people about the leadership (this is impossible from our point of view, but we must stand against this trend in any case)
We have analyzed the means of social communication in Arabic and summarized Twitter in Arabic. We have chosen Twitter because it is the service with the fastest response to the social and political events which accurately reflects the state of the information field as a whole.
In the initial analysis, hashtags that were often used on twitter by accounts to accuse the UAE in the Egyptian, Libyan, Yemeni and Sudanese files and the normalization file were analyzed followed by the information flow since 2015 to date.
We find that all the accounts affiliated with the Brotherhood, the State of Qatar and Turkey use offensive hashtags against the Emirati role, and even there are accounts within friendly countries such as Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that play the role of trying to negatively affect Abu Dhabi’s bilateral relations with these countries. We remember an Egyptian hashtag offensive to the UAE in 2015 and a recent Saudi hashtag, “The Emirates bombs legitimacy,” which spread minutes after the Yemeni government had accused Emirati planes of bombing their forces’ positions in Aden, and facilitating the path for southern Yemen forces to re-control areas in the south. Also, many media campaigns issued by these forces, for example: the campaign to boycott Emirati products, whether in Yemen or in Libya, finally, lead to the same negative image. Recently, after the decision to normalize relations with Israel, the hashtags were launched: “Normalization is treason,” then “Gulf people against normalization” and others.
distributing analysis of the negative news that shows the UAE badly, we find that the process of building the image of the enemy has begun actively since the second half of the year of 2013 after the signals the Muslim Brotherhood regime disposal from Egypt through figuring an image that the UAE financially assisted the Egyptian army to rid of them. These news intensified with the participation of the UAE in the warring Arab coalition in Yemen and then the normalization decision.
At first, the authors of these news and hashtags attracted an audience only in the context of current events such as in Yemen, Libya, and Egypt, and the main strategy was accusations of aggression. During this period, there were a number of reports accusing Abu Dhabi of interfering in the internal political issues of different countries.
The main publishers of the information were the news agencies of the Qatari and Turkish states and all media affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Henceforth, all the publications and news containing unconfirmed accusations of Abu Dhabi of interfering in the affairs of Arab countries are constantly present, whether on the social media pages or the pages of the news agencies of both countries.
Examples of these news and hashtags:
As explained in the formative stages of depicting the image of the enemy, the primary objective of this war is to try to reach inside the UAE and trying to create a negative image in the minds of its population towards leadership (although it is hard and even impossible ), we have found a clear strategy schemed by channels (The Brotherhood AlSharq channel in Turkey) and the presenter Moataz Matar to draw the image that there are arrests and political harassment of some personalities. Also, the website (Emirates Leaks), which broadcasts false negative news (it was created for this purpose), targeting the UAE interior.
What matters hers is that the information war against the UAE and its leaders is not limited to presenting a negative image and false information, but rather works to distort all positive matters (which are many and many) being carried out by the UAE. Wehave a late example here related to the program (My Heartreassured) that was broadcasted during last holy month of Ramadan, after making this program and its presenter an extraordinary joy in the hearts of millions of Arab peoples, the Brotherhood channels on YouTube created dozens of media contents that trying to distort the results of this program. They used the assumption that Ghaith, presenter of the program didn’t reveal his face, but revealed only the UAE flag on his bag and on the T-shirt he wears, in order to demonstrate the Emirati merit over the poor Arab peoples. Of course, they have not had any success in tarnishing the image of this hit program but what concern us here is their constant attempts to distort any success or to present negative and false images about UAE.
Our recent observation to the social networking sites and news agencies of the State of Qatar and Turkey uncovered that there is a large – scale information war through the stages of implementation and purpose targeting poisoning the friendshipsof UAE and its leadership with some Arab countries and accessing to create a negative image of the state’s population against UAE leaders, “and this is the most important purpose for such war”.
In the propagandas that target reaching hostile sentiments, the techniques used are repetition and continuous campaigns of media that rely on the snowball. It takes real or half real news and then woven around topics harming the interests of the targeted state.
Due to a psychological gap in the Arab public opinion, these campaigns attract the largest number of Arab minds by exploiting the passion and instinct, especially in the countries torn with crises. It exploits the noblest emotions to bring out the worst instincts.
In order to stand against these hostile campaigns against the United Arab Emirates, it is necessary to study how victims of media campaigns were implicated and how their minds were manipulated. We will find that emotion was used in order to attract the largest number of respondents to these campaigns, so in order to sabotage the results obtained by those in charge of these campaigns, emotion must also be used and even replace the reason. These respondents were won with emotion, and the method for getting them back should be the same.
So sadly, talk show programs can’t reach the desired results, especially as most of those who on the talk show programs are hated for many reasons, and there is an example in the Egyptian state (Ahmed Moussa, Amr Adib, Lamees Elhadidi, Nashaat Aldehe and others). Actually, Egyptians don’t accept any information permanently from them even if they are telling the truth.
In fact, production of serials and films is very important by trying to show that the other (Turkey, Qatar and the Brotherhood) is fallacious. The experience of the latest Egyptian series “Al-Ikhtiar, the choice” has proven unrivaled success in affecting the conscience of most of the Egyptian people, and the experience of the Emirati “My Heart reassured” program had an incomparable effect on millions of Egyptians and Arabs. All media projects that are far from the mind and concerned with emotion have a powerful positive impact
If we look at the Turkish experience in the last 15 years of obtaining a large number of followers in the Arab countries, we find that the issue of Turkish soap operas began with love (many Turkish series when they started were related to love and emotions: which led to the portrayal of the Turkish youth as a hero in the eyes of millions of Arab girls). After that, we can notice a new pace within the content of these series as it involved police stories and Turkish intelligence heroics, which strengthened the image of the Turkish hero, which ultimately led to the presentation of historical series that serve the current Turkish politics. Turkey, its youth and its heroes have become in the imagination of Arabs, especially girls, which made them easy prey for the current propaganda war against the UAE that represents a huge burden for the Turkish politics.
The battle we are facing is a battle of hearts not a battle of minds, so when responding to any false news against the UAE state it is advisable to respond as fast as we can and to understand the mentality of those who write these hashtags. If a response is delayed, it will be difficult to sway the hearts of those who have received this false information. The response must be through the same means, not through state government channels, but through trained electronic teams (no one knows their affiliation)
It is better to use the story telling technique as reporting the news should be by a literary attraction and by choosing the most important figures that attract sympathy of the public.