Whenever the state of affairs in the Middle East is mentioned in a conversation, we all duly become solemn and express our concern about the horror of the situation. Yet, most of us are only aware of the bare bones of the conflict. This is understandable; gaining knowledge about the intricacies would require both the skill to derive information from a variety of conflicting sources and the tenacity to wade your way through them in the first place.
So, it comes as no particular surprise that we turn to the media to do this job for us. We expect to be given the objective truth about current affairs as soon as they become current, but this approach has one fatal flaw: we are reliant solely upon what we are told.
Take for example the fact that in Yemen on October 8, a 225kg US-made bomb was dropped on a funeral procession by the US-sponsored Saudi-led coalition. Inevitably, this had catastrophic consequences. The bomb claimed the lives of more than 140 people, most of whom were civilians, and wounded more than 520. Human Rights Watch explicitly condemned this attack as a war crime. Surely, Coalition forces should have known that, as the ceremony was public and any attack on the hall would result in numerous civilian deaths.
Of course, the US cannot afford to be associated with any war crimes, which is perhaps why National Security Council spokesman Ned Price released a statement in response:
“In light of this attack and other recent incidents, we have initiated an immediate review of our already significantly reduced support to the Saudi-led Coalition and are prepared to adjust our support so as to better align with U.S. principles, values and interests.”
Unfortunately, this statement was as good as nullified as of October 12 when the US directly entered the Yemen war by launching ‘retaliatory’ cruise missiles at sites controlled by the rebel movement.
Safe to say, the whole situation is not reflecting well on the US as a whole, which is precisely why it fails to receive extensive media coverage. The media is currently fixated on one thing only: the presidential election. Obviously, no one can deny that the decision is a crucial one. But as Moustafa Bayoumi comments, “the world doesn’t stop spinning while the US holds elections.” The elections may, however, be linked to the lack of media coverage in a more indirect manner.
In a nutshell, the Democrats need to prove that their representative, Hillary Clinton, should be elected leader of the US. If doubts are being cast over the previous Democrat president’s decisions about foreign intervention, they will extrapolate down to the new party candidate. After all, since President Obama assumed his position, the US sold $110bn worth of arms to the Saudi government.
Neither Clinton nor Trump have made clear what their policies towards the situation in Yemen will be. It seems as if the entire conflict has been swept under the carpet as they fear that the complex mess which has been created is either too difficult to make a comment upon, or will damage their reputation. This, of course, will lose them much valued votes – maybe the objective at this moment in time is simply winning.
Regardless of why this fully-fledged conflict is being ignored by the media, the fact remains that it should not be. The plight of a people cannot so easily be dismissed. More than 6,800 people have been killed since the start of the war in 2015. They deserve to be acknowledged.
Image credit: Anglo-Araneophilus