Russia reaping the rewards of Arabic disinformation?
Russian state media have succeeded in persuading some parts of the Arab world that Russia intervention is required to resolve the region’s disputes, which appears be the ultimate goal of Russia’s strategy in the region.
The wars in Yemen and Syria and most recently the Palestinian-Israeli and Sudanese and Libyan conflicts have all been the focus of Russian influence - either directly through Russian diplomacy or through Russian activities in these conflict areas.
Most recently Russia has been searching for an opportunity in the Nile basin. This could be a replay of the Soviet era, when the USSR used communism and communist parties as tools to manipulate public opinion and create legitimacy for the concept of the Soviet ‘sphere of influence’ and intervention in many places. More recently, Russia engineered “public calls” for it to intervene in Georgia and Ukraine.
In Yemen, RT Arabic quoted the Yemeni Saba News, a Houthi media outlet, as reporting that Mahdi Mashat, president of the Supreme Political Council, had sent a letter to Putin which reflects Mashat’s “hope for Russian intervention”.
The letter reportedly said: “Russia should use its geopolitical and international influence to stop the attacks and break the siege against the Yemeni people and work to reach a righteous and comprehensive political arrangement that fulfills the Yemeni people’s aspirations and ensures the security and stability of Yemen and the region”.
While RT said that “no official response had been given”, it seems Russian intervention is being portrayed as a demand by the public to defend Yemen from “the American-Saudi conspiracy”.
The image of the Russian saviour is evidently spreading to regions that are currently the subject of Western influence and politics.
This could be clearly seen in relation to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Trump’s “deal of the century”.
The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
Russia has emerged as a significant contender in the peace process, especially after the Palestinian rejection of American involvement following the moving of the American embassy to Jerusalem.
In the words of Mahmoud Abbas, “America has eliminated itself from the meditation role in this conflict”.
At the same time, Israel has turned to Putin again in order to restrain Iran from threatening Israeli territory, and to avoid open confrontation with Iran over its presence in Syria. It may also be an Iranian goal to avoid open confrontation with Israel. This gives Russia a golden opportunity to play the mediator role.
RT published a video report under the headline “the expectations of the Palestinian public after Abbas’ visit to Moscow”.
As one man said “we sincerely hope Russia will attend to its obligations in defending the Palestinian cause. We saw the anti- Palestinian American stance and the Jerusalem American embassy move”.
The Russian ambassador said in an interview to RT that “We have a significant role and are in constant contact with all sides. As a non-regional player, we can only encourage and help. The solution must come from the two parties”.
“Regarding the ‘deal of the century’, Russia believes that the solution must adhere to international laws and legitimacy… otherwise we believe that the Palestinians and the Arabs will surely reject it”.
“A meeting in Moscow could be the turning point in these circumstances, and we support Palestine in international forums… The Palestinians have agreed to meet in Russia but we want both parties to agree to meet”.
Russia as the saviour of Syria from terrorism has been the main message Russian media outlets have been pushing.
Southern Syria has been the main focus, with the Russians negotiating with armed groups and bombing the way for Syrian forces to sweep in. Other international powers have been painted, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov put it, as being “those who want Syria to become like Iraq and Libya”.
“A large number of analysts believe that the USA maintains its interests by managing chaos in the Middle East. I do not believe Washington is playing that part but the facts that we can see now confirm the analysts’ belief”, Lavrov added.
“We condemn all human rights violations and anyone who commits them, the authorities, the opposition or foreign powers intervening. But it is crucial to see the whole picture and understand the price of raising moral issues just for show”.
Sudan and Egypt
An RT Arabic interview with former Sudanese Prime Minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi again showed Russia’s intent to manufacture public demand for intervention. The interview took place after Al-Mahdi had been prevented from entering Egypt on the eve of Egyptian President Sisi’s visit to the Sudanese capital Khartoum.
Al-Mahdi started the interview by saying: “I am very pleased to be hosted on this channel, especially as we are in contact with the Russian authorities, as Russia is huge power and a permanent member of the Security Council”.
Al-Mahdi was hosted in RT’s London studios during his visit there, where he met Foreign Office officials to ask them support a roadmap that both the opposition and the regime had agreed on.
“The British understood our demands and I believe they will respond positively”, Al-Mahdi said.
“It seems to us that the regime in Sudan values international opinions and roles more than national ones”, he said.
“Russia is a major power, and its role must not revolve only around the regime but it must also be in touch with the people of Sudan. We are looking for a Russian interest in peace and stability in Sudan”, he added.
“We appealed to the Russian and Chinese governments to deal with the people of Sudan and not only the regime, as they must take into consideration the people and their rightful demands”, he said
Sentiment in Libya seems to be developing the same way regarding Russian intervention.
Libyan Army spokesman Ahmad Al-Mesmari during an interview with Russia’s Novosti agency on Wednesday stated that “the Libyan crisis requires a Russian intervention and Putin’s personal intervention to fend off foreign powers from intervening in the Libyan crisis”.
“Libya needs Russia more now especially in the field of countering terrorism, since we know how effective Russia is when it comes to countering terrorism - Syria is proof of that”, added Al-Mesmari.
As talk of US influence waning in the Middle East grows, it’s clear that Russia’s is rising, and its state funded and directed media have played a strong role in that rise.