How Russian propaganda works in Arab countries: distribution channels, methods and narratives

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The influence of Russian propaganda in different regions of the world can be extremely effective due to a comprehensive approach that includes the use of local context, various information tactics and new technologies.

One of the illustrative examples of such effectiveness is Russia’s activity in the Middle East and North Africa countries. Here, Russia mainly promotes itself as an alternative to Western countries, presenting itself as a profitable partner ready to reformat the world order in favor of those states that feel injustice due to the actions of the so-called “collective West.” This propaganda strategy allows Russia to effectively manipulate public opinion and influence political processes in the region, strengthening its position in the international arena.

Russian propaganda dissemination channels

Russian propaganda uses various channels to spread its propaganda views and manipulate public opinion. For example:

  • RT Arabic. In May 2007, a key propaganda channel, RT Arabic, appeared in the Arab world, which actively disseminates the Russian position and manipulates information for the Arabic-speaking population.
  • Russian “experts” presence in Arabic-language media, which promote propaganda about the Islamic world’s independence from Western hegemony, the struggle for a multipolar world and others.
  • Facebook. Various groups on Facebook actively promote the pro-Russian vision of the war against Ukraine, using this platform for disinformation and manipulation of public opinion.
  • Twitter. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) conducted research on the Russian propaganda presence on Twitter to influence audiences in the Middle East and North Africa. The analysis revealed 10 Twitter accounts with a total of 359,075 followers. These accounts had similar avatars and descriptions of their profiles.

For example, an account named “Maria Raskolniov” described herself as an “editor of the Russian agency Sputnik_ar press service,” while an account named “Elena Kosogorov” also listed similar information, indicating that she is “an editor of the Arabic press department of the Russian agency Sputnik_ar”.

This group of Twitter accounts is used to spread disinformation and manipulate public opinion. They not only refer to and quote the Kremlin’s political elites, but also coordinate among themselves to spread identical messages. For example, tweets about the existence of Western biolaboratories in Ukraine were actively spreading, which is an example of targeted disinformation aimed at increasing anti-Western sentiment among the audience.

Russian propaganda narratives

Russian propaganda actively spreads narratives related to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The most popular among them are the following:

  • This are the U.S. and NATO, who are to blame for the conflict. This narrative is aimed at shifting responsibility to Western countries, in particular the U.S. and other NATO members.
  • Ukraine is a puppet of the West. Propaganda tries to show Ukraine as a country completely under the control of Western states and organizations.
  • The President of Ukraine condemned Ukrainians to war and suffering. This narrative is aimed at discrediting the Ukrainian leadership, portraying it as the initiator of the war and responsible for its consequences.
  • Supply of Western weapons/training of Ukrainian servicemen perpetuates the conflict. This narrative aims to create the impression that Western countries maintain the war by providing military aid to Ukraine.
  • The U.S. is not interested in ending the conflict. This narrative is intended to show that prolonging the war is beneficial to the United States.

All these narratives are aimed at manipulating public opinion and spreading influence on the international political arena, promoting Russia’s interests in the war against Ukraine.

READ ALSO: Moscow perceives the countries of the Global South as a weak link, according to the Centre for Strategic Communication

Russian propaganda methods

Russian propaganda uses various methods of manipulation, mixing true and false information flows. Its target audience is flooded with “news,” which creates uncertainty about the veracity of reports. The coexistence of conflicting messages makes it difficult to understand the situation.

The messages of global narratives are trying to adapt to the local context. Russian propaganda makes heavy use of sensitive topics that can evoke an emotional response from the audience, such as ethnic or religious differences, economic problems, or political instability.

In addition, the historical features of regions and countries are considered. This allows propagandists to find entry points for their messages and manipulate the situation based on past events.

Therefore, the Russian propaganda influence is manifested in its complex and multifaceted nature. This influence is most effective due to adaptability to the local context as well as considering the historical, cultural, and social characteristics of different regions. Russian propaganda uses its channels, narratives, and methods to shape public opinion, manipulate perspectives, and further its political and geopolitical goals.

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