It is February, the month of love. Sociologists say that love and politics, respectively, are the top two topics people like to conversate about. Mixing the two topics in one conversation makes it even more spicy and appealing to the receiving audience, especially on social media platforms. Last week, I found my name caught up in a smearing campaign on Twitter that did just that; mixed the topics of love and politics to discredit me, as part of a bigger campaign targeting Turkey’s Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar. It was not a surprise to discover, later on, that the campaign against me was launched by Greek tweeps.
On the eve of electing the new executive authority in Libya, I published an article discussing the future of Turkey in Libya, after the Government of National Accord (GNA) steps down and the newly elected government takes the lead. In 2019, GNA opened the door for Turkey’s intervention in Libya, through signing two military and maritime agreements, which a Libyan court, in January, ruled that they are illegal. The engineer of Turkey’s intervention in Libya is the Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar. He succeeded, in a record time, to create a presence for Turkey inside Libya, which benefited Turkey in pursuing other interests in the region. That included giving Turkey a relative leverage in its historical conflict with Greece over seabed rights in eastern Mediterranean. With the GNA leaving, Turkey’s interests and future ambitions in Libya are at risk. That is a rough summary of what I published in a long analysis report, titled “Hulusi Akar’s Dilemma in Libya.”
A few hours after publishing the link of the report on Twitter, I found dozens of tweets from random accounts with anonymous identities, mentioning my name. Some of these tweets were also quoting my “Hulusi Akar’s Dilemma in Libya” report. They were not discussing the topic of the report. Actually, I hardly doubt that they even read it, before tweeting at me. Rather, they were blatantly stating, with much confidence, that I am having “a secret crush on Hulusi Akar” and thus my romantic love to him is blinding my political analysis.
At the beginning, I thought this was a silly joke, and I responded to some of these tweets, trying to understand where they brought such a foolish assumption. My conversation with them was reminiscent of teenagers’ conversations in high school about the sexy teacher whom the girls are fantasizing about. Why my name got caught up in such nonsense? That was the question I could not answer, unless with the help of two friends, after three long days, through which the smearing campaign against me did not stop.
My first friend, who is an expert on social media algorithms, discovered that at least 90% of the accounts that were tweeting these rumors are from Greece and many of them are internet bots. That was not surprising to me. I know the Greeks hate Hulusi Akar because of the long history of conflicts between Turkey and Greece. But what this has to do with me? My second friend, who is an anthropologist, gave me the answer in very interesting analysis on the social media war between Turkey and Greece.
The anthropologist explained that the Greeks spreading the rumor that I am romantically blinded by Hulusi Akar, is not a random tweet or a silly joke that became popular. This was an organized campaign by the Greeks, and I am not their first victim. Anyone who writes anything positive or neutral about Turkey, or Hulusi Akar in particular, falls under their radar and then they target him/her by personal distortion campaign that affects his/her credibility and deters them from writing on this topic in the future.
I am an Egyptian. Due to the ongoing political rift between Egypt and Turkey, the Greek tweeps could not easily claim that I am biased to Turkey. Also, they could not claim that Hulusi Akar or Turkey are paying me money to write what I wrote. Even, they could not claim that I am a Twitter bot or a random person, because of my established professional reputation. The only claim they could make to discredit me and raise doubts around the credibility of my report is to come up with this super silly assumption that I am romantically in love with Hulusi Akar!
As funny as these rumors were, I was sad to see the Greek tweeps choosing the word “love” to attack me, within their fight with Hulusi Akar. Love is an amazing emotion that should bond us together, rather than being used as a tool of war. It is, perhaps, not the best story for Valentine’s Day, but I thought I should share this rare experience of an Egyptian researcher, who in the name of love, found herself stuck, in the social media war between the Turks and the Greeks.
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