The Russian special operation in Ukraine continues to resonate prominently on social media in the Middle East region. Local analysts monitor how the Internet views these events and their impact on different areas of life and politics.
According to a Moroccan researcher, the picture here is a mosaic, as evidenced by the flood of user feedback and comments, and the posts by bloggers. It reflects the mix of people’s political and ideological preferences and views, particularly those of the Arab street. Nevertheless, there are many more arrows of criticism of the events in Ukraine directed at the US and its allies than at Moscow.
There are a number of reasons for this tone. One of the main ones is that the perception of today’s realities is inseparable from people’s memories of former Western domination of the Arab region. Local communities have bitter experiences in this regard, which, in one way or another, is fueled by wounds that have never healed.
This anti-Western sentiment, which has been built up over decades, is taking on a new meaning. This is why many in the Arab world do not accept US rhetoric about international law, the sovereignty of states in light of what is happening in Ukraine. References are made to violations of sovereignty and national rights in the case of Palestine, Iraq, Libya. Furthermore, it was clear from the very beginning and even long before that the Ukrainian leadership was betting on forcing its relations with the West.
The vocabulary of the current Kiev regime is borrowed from Russia’s enemies and ill-wishers. The Arab reader has a legitimate question: are the Ukrainian nationalists fighting against Russia for their own protection or are they, on the contrary, rushing into the care of the US and NATO?
It is noted that social media compare what is happening in Ukraine and the reaction of Western countries with conflicts in the Middle East region, which have not received the same international response.
The West’s inflated media campaign in favor of the Kiev government is raising Arabs’ doubts about its moral foundations. Materials and TV reports pushing the suffering of Ukrainians to generate sympathy from the audience are so aggressive that they generate exactly the opposite effect and reaction among social media activists.
Bloggers are ironic about calls in Europe to open their arms to Ukrainian refugees and resent the silence on the situation of Syrian, Libyan or Afghan refugees, who have suffered far more. According to Al Jazeera, the West is showing the world the viciousness of its culture in this drama, which relies on racial discrimination and double standards.
According to users of social networks, the world media and cyberspace make a lot of noise about the war in Ukraine, but there is much more silence and concealment about what is really happening. The internet catches the hand of Ukrainian dealers operating in the field of disinformation and forgery.
The Arabic website Misbar, which since 2019 has specialized in finding and exposing false files in online communities, has been active in this regard. In recent weeks it has investigated and uncovered quite a few such cases in Ukraine, based on verified documentary sources.
These include, in particular, posted pictures of houses burned down by the Russian army in the town of Sumy in Ukraine. According to Misbar, these are none other than media photos taken on February 2, 2020 after a fire in Irshava, Transcarpathia. Another example is a video of alleged attacks by Ukrainians on Russian armored vehicles in Kiev. In fact, it was a fake: it was the footage of Ukrainian demonstrators throwing Molotov cocktails at Ukrainian forces’ equipment during public protests in 2014 in the country.
The Emirati publication points to the techniques of the Ukrainian president, backed by a large Western team, to inflate the number of civilian casualties in the operation. It has also been proven that a number of the photos cited as evidence of “war crimes” are montages. The Algerian newspaper Le Jeune Indépendant called the fabricated massacre operation in Bucha “a new lie by the Atlanticists to smear Russia”.
The “Arab street” expresses its distrust of the international system, which has contributed to the crisis in the region and rushed to Ukraine’s aid, while ignoring the negative things that have happened or are still happening in many Arab countries.
According to the Saudi newspaper Al-Okaz, the Arab masses and their cultural elites are leaning towards Russia against Ukraine. The newspaper attributes this to Arab hostility towards the West because of its support for Israel in the Arab-Israeli conflict over the past 70 years. Hence the logical motives of the Arabs to support Russia in its conflict with Kiev.
The Russian operation in Ukraine has a special character, says an Arab author. It has become a long-awaited spark that will somehow contribute to the process of emerging from the era of uncertainty or “political swing” that the world has experienced all these years.
It is characterized by the collective West pursuing hegemonic policies, plundering national wealth and crushing the will of nations with its sanctions, and other poles that have step by step built up their economies and institutions to take their place in the international balance of power according to their increased potential. However, these poles have each time clashed with the West’s firm determination to maintain the status quo and hold the keys to what they consider to be the sole center of the world.
The fact that relationships have now intensified and become more turbulent in places around the world away from Ukraine itself is a harbinger of impending shifts to correct the dysfunction of the system in which the world has existed for the past decades.