Politics Today: This is how the UAE sponsored an anti-Islamist Swedish researcher

The US Politics Today website was published article It tells about how the UAE created what the website called the “Swedish anti-Islamist bogeyman”: researcher Magnus Ranstorp.

The article, written by Andreas Craig, a professor at King’s College London, the Royal College of Defense Studies, addressed what he called the UAE’s attempts to influence Western policy-making at the most strategic level towards Islamic countries, especially in America and Europe “in order to impose its narrative on Islam.” hostility to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Arab Spring, and independent civil society activities.”

Craig says Magnus Ranstorp has become a major force in the Emirati network of influence in Sweden that sponsors a group of fellow researchers who are all directly or indirectly linked to Abu Dhabi, and who share simplistic anti-Islamic narratives with it.

integrity of speech

He noted that the Swedish Civil Emergency Agency, which operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice, recently announced the creation of a psychological defense agency, a move he described as a smart move “at a time when external influence operations threaten the integrity of domestic discourse.”

He said that while Russia is recorded as a hostile power in most Western countries, the activities of the UAE and its influence operations in Western capitals are ignored as the general diplomatic activities of a partner in the Gulf, adding that nevertheless, although influence operations in Abu Dhabi began 15 years ago in Washington as Benign public diplomacy, mounting evidence, particularly in America, indicates that the UAE has actively attempted to influence Western policymaking at the most strategic level of governance.

In Europe, too, Craig says, Abu Dhabi has actively attempted to undermine public discourse about the Middle East, the Arab Spring, and Islam. This activity was born out of fear of civil society after the Arab Spring, and was security-polished in Abu Dhabi’s treatment of “political Islam” as a threat. Essential to system security.

deep-rooted phobia

Craig said that the close circle around the UAE Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed, is motivated by a deep-rooted phobia of civil societal activism that the state does not approve of, noting that Emirati officials were at the forefront of working to secure the character of political Islam, describing any societal activity A civilian is associated with it as “terrorism”, and this has become a way to justify tyranny at home, in the region, and increasingly in the West as well.

The writer went on to say that Abu Dhabi has embraced information networks consisting of right-wing nationalists, Islamophobes and orientalists in the media, academia and policy-making, and strange conspiracy theories about the creeping Islamization of the West have been used to promote the UAE’s narrative of “moderate Islam”, a discourse – according to Craig – subject to interests The system does not leave room for civil societal activity.

pressure on western governments

Craig added that rather than merely using them to justify repression of dissidents, opposition figures and civil society at home, Abu Dhabi sponsored these networks to pressure governments in Europe to take a tougher stance against Islamists, and above all against the Muslim Brotherhood and related NGOs or civil society groups. alleged group.

These influence campaigns in Britain resulted in a coercive attempt by Abu Dhabi and its networks to pressure the government of British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015 to investigate whether the Muslim Brotherhood should be classified as a terrorist organization.

Craig tells that developments in Sweden since 2017 indicate that the UAE has taken a similar path, and succeeded in radically changing the discourse on the Muslim Brotherhood in the country, which led to government institutions stigmatizing Islamic organizations and non-governmental organizations as “terror”, and thus disrupting Its ability to participate actively in civil society.

He said that where Abu Dhabi fails to put Islamists on the government’s terrorism list, labeling “terrorism” and delegitimizing public discourse is the alternative way to undermine their freedom of movement.

Sweden’s most paradoxical

The most paradoxical in Sweden, according to the author, is that the UAE’s anti-Islamist narratives are promoted by the Swedish Civil Emergency Agency (MSB), which appears to have been sabotaged by experts and consultants from within the UAE-incubated network.

Craig recounts that it all started with a report on the Muslim Brotherhood commissioned by the Swedish Civil Emergency Agency in 2017, written by M. Norell and Aji Karlbum, and it shows prominent Emirati accounts of the conveyor belt theory, a debunked myth that suggests the Muslim Brotherhood acts as an entry drug into “jihadist activity.”

This report was followed by a long list of conferences, talks, and events that provided a platform for a group of like-minded scholars promoting anti-Islamist narratives based on questionable academic research.

controversial research

Much of this research has been prepared by the emergency agency-funded Center for Asymmetric Threat and Terror Studies (CATS), which was set up as a way to separate research findings from the government agency, “in this way the CATS can more easily serve as an incubator for controversial research.” and debate about anti-Islam ideological synergy, which is unlikely to stand the test of peer review or critical investigation.

In this way, Magnus Ranstorp, the head of research at the center of the Center for the Study of the Asymmetric Threat’s activities, turned suspiciously overnight into an expert on Muslim Brotherhood affairs in 2017, at the same time he became an advisor to Hedaya. ) which is funded by the state in the Emirates, and is the main soft power tool in the Emirates that advances the anti-Islamist agenda at the global level.

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