Study shows Arabs more likely to blame NATO than Russia for Ukraine war

Special NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. (AFP)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. (AFP)
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Updated 14 August 2022

Study shows Arabs more likely to blame NATO than Russia for Ukraine war

Study shows Arabs more likely to blame NATO than Russia for Ukraine war
  • Perception in Arab world that NATO is to blame for conflict echoes official line from Kremlin
  • However, apportioning of blame more balanced among countries in GCC, Levant and North Africa

LONDON: In all but one of 14 countries surveyed in a special Arab News-YouGov poll on where Arabs stand on the Ukraine conflict, a majority of respondents who expressed a view believe the blame for the war lies not with Russia but with NATO.

The only exception to this is in Syria, where blame is apportioned equally. 

These findings highlight the gulf in perceptions of the conflict between the Arab world and Europe. A similar poll conducted by YouGov in Europe during April found that “an overwhelming majority of the citizens of EU countries attribute responsibility for the situation in Ukraine to Russia.”

This feeling was strongest in Finland and Sweden, where both countries are fearful of Russian expansion over their borders and are now anxiously contemplating joining NATO. 

There, and in the UK, Poland and the Netherlands, more than 70 percent of people laid the blame firmly at the door of the Kremlin.

Among countries in the GCC, Levant and North Africa, although NATO is perceived more often as the party responsible for the conflict, the apportioning of blame is more balanced. People in the Gulf states, for example, blame NATO (23 percent) only marginally more than they do Russia (19 percent).

The perception in the Arab world that NATO is to blame for the conflict echoes the official line from the Kremlin, and Eto Buziashvili, research associate at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, believes it can be attributed to a large extent to Russia’s digital campaign of disinformation.

“There is constant disinformation messaging coming out of official Kremlin sources on a range of social networks,” she said. “They have been blocked on platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, but they have also been actively using Telegram.”

“I observed that a few weeks ago they started to invest in video content, featuring the war in Ukraine, and have launched channels on Telegram that are running in more than 17 languages, including Persian and Arabic.

“This is part of the broader picture of Russian disinformation efforts around the war. Blaming NATO was the first narrative that came out of the Kremlin, which says it was NATO that was standing behind Ukraine that provoked the conflict.”

Tobias Borck, research fellow for Middle East security studies at London-based defense and security think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, says the finding also reflects a regional ambivalence toward NATO as a tool of the West.

“What has been experienced in the Middle East is that NATO — and by NATO, most people mean the US and the West — does what it wants. In this case, people see that Russia is doing what it wants, and think, well, what’s the big difference?

“The West has behaved in this way for years. It has gone and occupied Iraq, for example, and now Russia is doing a similar thing in Ukraine. OK, it’s not great that Russia is doing this, but what’s the big difference, basically?

“So if the Russians are saying well, it’s because NATO keeps expanding, then that’s a narrative that resonates and mixes with anti-Western and anti-imperial sentiment in the region.”

Across MENA, 13 percent of respondents to the YouGov survey say that US President Joe Biden is responsible for the war — possibly reflecting the inevitable conflation of NATO with the US, and the widespread negative view in the region of American military adventures across the Middle East.

Overall, however, 42 percent of respondents aren’t sure who to blame.

In the view of the 7,835 people canvassed across the Middle East and North Africa, there is widespread agreement that Ukraine itself cannot be blamed for the conflict. No more than 8 percent of respondents in any country, and only 5 percent across the GCC states as a whole, felt Ukraine could be held responsible.

 

 


Lebanon's banks to reopen on Monday - statement

Lebanon's banks to reopen on Monday - statement
Updated 7 sec ago

Lebanon's banks to reopen on Monday - statement

Lebanon's banks to reopen on Monday - statement

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s banks will reopen on Monday, with each taking their own measures, the country’s banking association said in a statement on Sunday.
The country’s banks have shut for about five days following a spree of bank hold-ups by depositors seeking access to their savings.


At UNGA, UAE minister demands return of 3 islands seized by Iran

At UNGA, UAE minister demands return of 3 islands seized by Iran
Updated 11 min 35 sec ago

At UNGA, UAE minister demands return of 3 islands seized by Iran

At UNGA, UAE minister demands return of 3 islands seized by Iran

NEW YORK: The United Arab Emirates on Saturday urged Iran to return to the Gulf state the three islands it had been illegally occupying for the past five decades.

In an address before the General Debate of the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York City, Reem Al Hashimy, UAE's Minister of State for International Cooperation, said Iran's occupation of the three islands was a violation of the sovereignty.

"... we renew our demand for an end to Iran's occupation of the three UAE islands: Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa – the UAE’s sovereignty over which is proven by history and international law," Hashimy said.

Iran seized the three islands in November 1971 shortly after British forces were pulled out. The islands are all located in the Strait of Hormuz between the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

"Despite the UAE’s sincere calls to peacefully resolve this conflict over the past five decades, we stress here that Iran has not responded. We will never relent in voicing our claim to these islands either through direct negotiations or through the International Court of Justice, as is our legitimate right," Hashimy said.

Iran has been accused by its Arab neighbors and members and the West of seeking to destabilize the region by funding and arming its proxy militias, including the Hezbollah of Lebanon, the Houthis of Yemen, and other militants in the Palestinian territories and in Iraq.

On Sunday, the UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

During the meeting, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed called for strengthening international cooperation to achieve stability and peace in the region and achieve the aspirations of people, according to a statement on the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

Both officials discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries to achieve their common interests. They also exchanged views on regional and international developments and reviewed several issues on the agenda of the General Assembly.

 

 


Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in West Bank

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in West Bank
Updated 25 September 2022

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in West Bank

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in West Bank

NABLUS: Israeli troops killed a Palestinian militant in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, Palestinian sources said, with Israel’s army saying soldiers fired on “armed suspects” during a routine patrol.
The army said that “hits were identified” after soldiers fired toward “armed suspects driving in a vehicle and a motorcycle” near Nablus in the northern West Bank, an area that has seen near daily violence in recent months.
The Palestinian health ministry named the man killed as Saed Al-Koni.
A loose coalition of fighters called “The Lions Den” that has recently emerged in Nablus claimed Koni as one of their members.
Among the members of this group was teenager Ibrahim Al-Nabulsi, who has become a folk hero on social media since his killing by Israeli forces in August. Pendants of Al-Nabulsi are on sale in the markets of Nablus Old City.
Koni’s death was the second in the Nablus area in the past two days.
On Saturday, a Palestinian driver was killed by Israeli troops after what the army called an “attempted ramming attack,” but which Palestinians said was a traffic accident.
The army said soldiers and police opened fire on a vehicle after the driver “attempted to run them over” during a patrol outside Nablus.
The Palestinian foreign ministry described Muhammad Ali Hussein Awad, 36, as a “defenseless Palestinian” who was not “posing any danger.”
“The Israeli police deliberately shot Awad, with the aim of killing him, after his vehicle collided with a police vehicle in a traffic accident,” the ministry said.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six Day War of 1967.
Israeli forces have faced criticism over their frequent use of lethal force in response to perceived threats.
Israel is on high alert ahead of the Jewish high holiday season which begins on Sunday evening with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year.
Since March, Israel has launched hundreds of raids in the northern West Bank, including Nablus and nearby Jenin, in pursuit of individuals it accuses of involvement in deadly attacks targeting Israelis.
The raids have sparked clashes that have killed dozens of Palestinians.


President Alimi, UN Secretary General discuss peace efforts in Yemen

President Alimi, UN Secretary General discuss peace efforts in Yemen
Updated 25 September 2022

President Alimi, UN Secretary General discuss peace efforts in Yemen

President Alimi, UN Secretary General discuss peace efforts in Yemen

Dubai: Head of the Presidential Leadership Council in Yemen, Rashad al-Alimi, discussed on Saturday peace efforts with Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly's meetings.
Alimi welcomed the role of the UN and its secretary general’s efforts to stop the war in Yemen and to alleviate the severity of Yemen's crisis, state news agency SABA reported.
Alimi discussed the latest developments in Yemen, economic, service and right reforms adopted by the Presidential Council and the government..
The secretary general confirmed the commitment of the UN in supporting the presidential council and the government and mobilizing necessary resources to alleviate humanitarian suffering.
He also confirmed employing all efforts to tighten the truce and renewing it, resuming the political process and enabling Yemeni people to build their state.


German Chancellor arrives in UAE after Saudi Arabia visit

German Chancellor arrives in UAE after Saudi Arabia visit
Updated 25 September 2022

German Chancellor arrives in UAE after Saudi Arabia visit

German Chancellor arrives in UAE after Saudi Arabia visit
  • Scholz is scheduled to visit Qatar before going back to Berlin on Sunday night

DUBAI: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived in the UAE Saturday night on the second leg of a two-day tour to the Gulf region.

Scholz was welcomed by the UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, and several officials at the Presidential Terminal of the Abu Dhabi International Airport, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

Earlier, Scholz left Saudi Arabia after meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Both leaders reviewed aspects of Saudi-German relations and areas of partnership between the two countries, in addition to discussing prospects for bilateral cooperation and opportunities for its development in accordance with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Scholz, accompanied by a large delegation that includes representatives of several economic sectors, is scheduled to visit Qatar before going back to Berlin on Sunday night.