Skip to main content

Arabic press review: Online network spreads UAE propaganda in Sudan

Meanwhile, the UK government vows to protect Iranian opposition broadcaster receiving security threats, and Kuwaiti investment in Tunisia hits $500m
Sudan's de-facto leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan meets with United Arab Emirates' President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on 14 May 2022 (Reuters)
UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan meets with Sudan's de facto leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in Abu Dhabi on 14 May 2022 (Reuters)

Twitter network promotes UAE interests in Sudan

A coordinated network on Twitter is promoting United Arab Emirates objectives in Sudan and a systematic incitement campaign against civilian political forces in the country, according to a new report. 

The Khartoum-based Beam Reports published a probe on Sunday which analysed dozens of Twitter accounts using hashtags related to Sudanese politics since the beginning of February.

Shadow games on the Red Sea as scramble for Sudan's ports intensifies
Read More »

The hashtags included "Sudan in the heart of the Emirates", "No to freedom and change" and "Mohammed bin Zayed al-Burhan", referring to the Emirati president and Sudan’s de facto leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

The network sought to influence Sudanese public opinion by attacking several public figures in the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition and promoting Emirati investments in the country, including in a Red Sea port. 

In December, Sudan and the UAE struck a $6bn preliminary agreement to develop and operate Abu Amama port on the Red Sea. The deal includes the construction of an airport, a big agricultural scheme, and dozens of railways and roads to link the Nile to the Red Sea.

The agreement has been questioned by local residents and port employees, who said it would result in a loss of land with no clear benefit to the community.

The same coordinated Twitter accounts previously shared content last year denouncing the Muslim Brotherhood and the Houthis in Yemen, the investigation found, in line with Emirati regional interests. 

UK vows to protect Iran opposition channel

The UK government is working to help provide a safe location to Iran International, an opposition broadcaster based in London which has faced security threats in recent weeks.  

“We are working in cooperation with the police to ensure the security of personnel working at Iran International, and the security of the organisation,” Lord Tariq Ahmad, the UK’s Middle East and North Africa minister, told Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday.

Iran International was forced to cease broadcasting from London and move its 24-hour programming to Washington in February, after London's Metropolitan Police informed it of threats against its journalists. 

In November, Iranian armed forces arrested a person they said was an employee of the broadcaster while they were attempting to flee the country, state media reported at the time.

Iran believes Saudi Arabia funds Iran International, which has covered anti-government protests extensively since they spread across the country in September, following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini. Saudi Arabia has not commented on Iran's accusations.

Adam Bailey, a spokesman for Iran International, told Asharq al-Awsat that its newsroom staff were working from home, with newsgathering continuing to take place in London while broadcasting had moved to the United States.   

Kuwait invests $500m in Tunisia

Kuwait’s investment in Tunisia amounts to half a billion dollars, the Tunisian ambassador to the Gulf country has revealed.

Al-Hashemi Ajili told Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Anbaa on Tuesday that 40 percent of that figure was in real estate investment, followed by 23 percent in financial services and 20 percent in food industries.

Tunisia: Free press under attack as President Kais Saied tightens grip
Read More »

He said that there were "positive signs to promote and diversify trade exchange, open a direct air corridor between the two countries, and create new joint investment projects.

"All these points will be agreed upon during the next meeting of the Joint Committee chaired by the two foreign ministers, scheduled for the second half of this year," Ajili added. 

Kuwait and Tunisia have extensive financial and military ties. In 2018, a joint Tunisian-Kuwaiti Cooperation Council was established to collaborate across economic and cultural sectors such as tourism. 

Tunisia has been engulfed in political and economic crises since July 2021, when President Kais Saied unilaterally suspended parliament and dissolved the government in what has been dubbed a "constitutional coup". 

He subsequently ruled by decree, before pushing through a new constitution that enshrined his one-man rule.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.