🧵1/ Here's an intriguing thread showing overlap between Gulf and British politics. In particular, it shows how the @LaylaMoran and @CrispinBlunt issue is being used as a means by social media accounts as propaganda attack the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar . #disinformation Image
2/ First, context. @LaylaMoran & @CrispinBlunt recently admitted that they did paid non-MP related work from their official offices. The Saudi connection, the work involved attending a zoom panel arranged by Bindmans LLP about political prisoners in Saudi. bbc.com/news/uk-politi…
3/ This is technically a breach of House of Common rules. Anyway, the fact the panel raised issued of human rights violations in Saudi has prompted a predictable nationalist backlash on Twitter. However, some are using it as an opportunity for propaganda and disinformation >
4/ Firstly, I downloaded tweets and hashtags mentioning Layla Moran in Arabic. This amounted to around 16000 tweets, retweets, replies, mentions etc, posted between 16-22nd November. The first thing to noticed that the third most common hashtag in the graph was 'qatar'. Image
5/ The eighth most common phrase was 'brotherhood'. First this is interesting because most of the English language press on this issue do not mention Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood as they are not relevant. The MB connection relates to the fact a Bindhams lawyer has represented
6/ the Muslim Brotherhood. This is not secret or illegal of course. It's mentioned clearly on their website. The Qatar is connection is even more tenuous, and perhaps relates to the propaganda trope that paints Qatar and Turkey as the key supporters of MB bindmans.com/our-people/pro…
7/ Anyway, As you can see from the graph. The accounts mentioning @LaylaMoran tended to focus on either the Qatar or Brotherhood trope. The graph below shows those tweets that mention the Brotherhood (green) or Qatar (orange). Purple are accounts that mention neither. Image
8/ Around 58% of the accounts tweet or retweet an account mentioning Qatar or the Brotherhood. Saudi journalist halgawi was the most influential, he wrote a fairly uncontroversial tweet that simply connected the law firm to the MB via previous work ImageImage
9/ More interesting are some of the unverified sketchy news sites promoting the story, such as @TheSaudi_post, which outright accuses @LaylaMoran of receiving Qatari money - retweeted over a thousand times. @TheSaudi_post doesn't have a website, just a FB page ImageImage
9/ There's also @QLeaks2 - another site of unknown provenance that posts questionable news about Qatar. In this case they went for the patently false headline 'Qatar bribes British parliamentarians to attack Saudi Arabia'. #disinformation ImageImage
10/ There are plenty more accounts so I won't go on. But safe to say the scandal is being used to attack the brotherhood, Qatar, and also @LaylaMoran . There are also some bots, but I won't go into now!

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More from @marcowenjones

15 Nov
[Thread] 1/ For those speculating about Kate Stewart, An analysis of her tweets highlights some things of note. Firstly, I sampled 69000 tweets and retweets from her account. The most commonly used word is Saudi, used 6312 times. KSA is also used 1802 times. NUFC is the 14th
2/ most common term used. Regardless of who operates the Kate Stewart account, the purpose of the account is fairly clear, to promote positive news about Saudi Arabia. The second most common term apart from Twitter handles, common phrases, and adjectives, is NUFC, indicating
3/ the second purpose of the account is discuss issues related to #NUFC, which will not surprise any NUFC fans. In the below graph, you can see that Kate started tweeting a lot about NUFC in April 2020 (the green line), when the takeover bid was filed.
Read 5 tweets
28 Oct
[Thread] 1/ Three days ago Said Al Jabri, a former Saudi politician now living in exile in Canada, gave an interview to @60Minutes where he reiterated that the Saudi state had attempted to assassinate him while in Canada. Soon after, the 'interview with Said Al Jabri trended'
2/ I will highlight some interesting characteristics about the network. Broadly speaking, there are two large communities. On the left, those critical of Saudi Crown Prince MBS, and those on the right, those supportive of him. As you can see, not a great deal of between
3/ group communication (polarisation). There are also areas of artificial amplification impacting the pro MBS community. In this case, fake RT communities boosting tweets of support for MBS. You can see the close up of these communities below. Some are more obvious than others.
Read 7 tweets
12 Oct
1/ Thread. Kind of curious to see this piece about Saudi Al Qahtani edging back to power in the Guardian. There's been a sense his return to the front has been imminent for a while, but I'm not convinced social media activity is an indicator of his return theguardian.com/world/2021/oct…
2/ If you look at the Arabic hashtag of Saud al Qahtani you will see it peaked in December 2019 and May 2021. It also maintains a general level of activity between those spikes in interest, indicating there is a general bubbling of praise about him. I certainly see it a lot Image
3/ Recently on 9th October monther72, a prolific Saudi political influencer, tweeted his name. As usual it got a lot of traction. What's interesting is that if you analysis all the tweets with the hashtag of Sultan al Qahtani (from day 1), monther72 is the account that ImageImage
Read 5 tweets
6 Oct
[Thread] 1/ There is currently a #disinformation campaign attacking the human rights organization @ALQST_ORG - most accusing it of 'attacking' Saudi and being a Muslim Brotherhood entity.The campaign would suggest it was state-backed, and involves dozens of fake accounts. Read on
2/ ALQST is a human rights org focused on Saudi. Some will remember that Alaa Al Siddiq was a member. Sadly Alaa died in a car crash recently in the UK. The context of the attack is ALQST discussing HR in Saudi and sharing a panel and with Amnesty International at #HRC48
3/ Curious about this network, approximately 50 Twitter accounts, almost all featuring profile pictures of attractive young women, are spreading a collection of tweets and infographics condemning ALQST. I collected some of them below to give you an idea. #disinformation >
Read 12 tweets
22 Aug
Thread 1/ Before #Qatar's borders with Saudi were finalised in 1999 (and to a lesser extent 1965), discussions of its borders with Saudi were a sticking point. This map from 1935 shows a number of suggested boundaries proposed by British Minister in Jeddah Sir Andrew Ryan ...
2/ In 1937 another similar map was proposed. The final dotted red line offer made by Ryan in this map would have given Qatar a border with Abu Dhabi, which would have had an interesting effect on regional geopolitics. Many of the roughly drawn maps would have reduced the
3/ size of Saudi Arabia as it is today. The negotiation of borders became less of an issue (according to Zahlan) until the 1960s, when a unpublished agreement took place in 1965. However this lacked clarity, and led to the deaths of two people at the Qatar/Saudi border in 1992
Read 5 tweets
13 Aug
🧵1/ This thread is about a trend advocating for preventing Omar al-Bashir, wanted for crimes against humanity, from being sent to the ICC. It's a fantastic example of how artificially amplified and manipulated trends pretend to be grassroots sentiment #Disinformation #Sudan
2/ firstly, this shouldn't be taken lightly. The warrants against al-Bashir include the worst charges, from extermination, torture, and intentional targeting of civilians. Up to 500,000 are thought to have been killed as a result of the Darfur genocide (although figures vary).
3/ The trend translates as 'Surrending al-Bashir is an insult to Sudan'. It started trending on the evening of the 11th August. Then, @sabqorg an Arabic newspaper, ran a story about the trend saying it reflected 'popular (Gulf) outrage' about al-Bashir's plight #disinformation
Read 16 tweets

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