Russia Is Winning the Information War in the Middle East

According to a recent survey, Arabs ages eighteen to twenty-four are more likely to hold the U.S. and NATO, not Russia, responsible for the ongoing war in Ukraine. Anna Borshchevskaya seeks to explain why:

Conversations with elite figures in many Middle East capitals—influential diplomats, government officials, journalists, and businesspeople—reveal a surprising appreciation for Russia’s position, including sympathy for Vladimir Putin’s argument that Russia was forced to [invade Ukraine] to avoid encirclement by NATO.

There are several reasons so many of Washington’s traditional friends in the Middle East are, at best, ambivalent about the Ukraine war. Some of this has to do with their own sense of abandonment by the United States in their hour of need, a common complaint of Saudis and Emiratis who, like Ukraine, have been on the receiving end of Iranian drones—but not, in their view, the same massive showing of U.S. support.

These ideas, however, did not take root all by themselves. . . . Years before the Ukraine invasion, the Russian state-owned media outlets RT Arabic and Sputnik Arabic emerged as major sources of legitimate regional news in the Middle East. . . . Russian state-run media have retained full access to airwaves throughout the Ukraine crisis, enabling the Kremlin to propagate its narrative on the war via regional media. And Moscow knows its audience in the Middle East well. It routinely frames the war as a Russian challenge to the U.S.-led hegemonic order, an argument that plays well in many Arab capitals.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Middle East, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy, War in Ukraine

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security