The Social Network of Arab Twiplomacy

A Disconnected Arab World

Last week I attempted to explore the world of “follow-mies”, countries that are enemies in the geo-political world yet follow one another on twitter. An interesting finding was that in the age of twiploamcy, the Arab world is a disconnected one. I found that the majority of Arab countries do not follow one another’s official twitter channels and that several prominent Arab countries are completely isolated as they are not followed and do not follow any Arab foreign ministries.

Using a sample of ten countries, I decided to further explore this disconnected Arab world. My analysis included the twitter accounts of ten ministries of foreign affairs: Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain and  Iran (two accounts one of President Rouhani and the other @Meet Iran operated by the Iranian MFA).

The Social Network of Arab Ministries of Foreign Affairs is presented in the image below.

Arab world MFA

Note: MFAs that follow one another are painted in yellow

 

As can be seen, digital diplomacy ties exist between only half of the sample (five countries) while the other half are completely isolated. Bahrain is the most active member in the Social Network of Arab MFAs as it follows four other MFAs (Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain). Bahrain and Jordan are the only two countries in the sample to follow one another.

The identity of the five countries that are completely isolated from other Arab countries is puzzling as it includes prominent Arab countries such as Egypt and countries that are the focus of diplomatic activity in the Middle East (Palestine and Iraq). Iran is also completely isolated from all other Arab countries including all its neighbors.

How Israel Connects the Arab World

Surprisingly, when Israel is added to the social network of Arab MFAs, the Arab world becomes much more connected as can be seen on the image below.

Arab world Israel

Note: MFAs that follow one another are painted in yellow

 

Israel follows both Egypt and Iraq thereby linking them to the Social Network of Arab MFAs and ending their isolation. By so doing Israel increases the number of Arab participants in this social network from five to seven. Thus, it is Israel that glues together a disconnected Arab world. However, despite the fact that Israel is the most active follower of Arab MFAs in the region, it is not followed by any other Arab MFA thus preventing it from truly connecting the Arab world.

A Connected Arab World at the UN

In the United Nations, the Arab world seems to be much more connected. The sample of Arab mission to the UN included in my analyses is rather small given the fact that only five Arab mission are active on twitter. The countries included in this analysis are Palestine, Jordan, Bahrain, UAE and Lebanon. The Social Network of Arab mission to the United Nations is presented in the image below.

Arab world UN

Note: UN missions that follow one another are painted in yellow

 

As can be seen, in the United Nations no Arab country is completely isolated. Moreover, the number of Arab countries that follow one another at the UN is two as opposed to just one in the Social Network of Arab MFAs (Palestine and UAE and Palestine and Jordan follow one another). Thus the UN may truly be the world’s hub of diplomacy.

Palestine, which is isolated in the Social Network of Arab MFAs, is at the very core of the Social Network of Arab missions to the UN. It is the most active Arab mission to the United Nations as it follows four other missions (Bahrain, UAE, Jordan and Lebanon) and is the only mission to have two-way links with other Arab missions (Jordan and UAE).

Interestingly, while the UAE’s ministry of foreign affairs is followed by just one other ministry, the UAE’s mission to the UN is followed by three other missions making it the most popular mission in this social network (Bahrain, Palestine and Jordan). Finally, Bahrain which is at the core of the Social Network of Arab MFAs is at the periphery of the Social Network of Arab mission to the UN.

The many differences between the two social networks presented in this analysis demand an explanation. One possible explanation could be that the decision to follow another Arab mission to the UN is in the hands of the Ambassador or the embassy’s social media director as opposed to the decision to follow another Arab MFA which is in the hands of politicians. Another possible explanation is that the Arab nations often cooperate with one another on diplomatic efforts in the United Nations and its various organizations. Thus, Arab missions to the UN follow one another in order to coordinate multi-lateral diplomatic efforts.

 

 

 

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