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Hypocrisy: Media Silent on Saudi Airstrike of Yemen, But Supports Western Call For Attack on Syria

56 people were killed in a three-day airstrike launched by a Saudi-backed coalition in Yemen. That number includes women, children and guests of a wedding party.

The Hajja attack came several days after coalition air strikes killed rebel Houthi leader Saleh al-Sammad on Thursday. Houthi insurgents retaliated against the assault by bombing a Saudi oil port, as stated by a senior official at the Houthi-controlled defense ministry.

On Sunday, an airstrike hit a wedding party, immediately killing 33 people, 17 of them being children and women. A recent report states the death toll has increased to 50 over the week.

The latest strike was Monday’s attack on a gas station in the Hajja province, killing 18 and injuring 13.

The Yemen war erupted in early 2015 when Houthi rebels expelled the U.S.-supported government under President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi from the country’s capital, Sanaa.

The United Nations human rights office stated that the Saudi-backed coalition has contributed to 61 percent of all civilian casualties. In early December last year, 234 civilians were dead in a one-week clash after the killing of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

As the war enters its fourth year, the humanitarian situation is worsening. The United Nations reported that 75 percent of Yemen’s population were in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. The international body also recorded that 18 million Yemenis lacked substantial food to survive, while more than 8 million were on the brink of starvation.

How has the world and the media reacted?

Expectedly, the current airstrike in Yemen has failed to grab attention from mainstream media organizations. BBC, for example, focused instead on the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s third baby on the evening of the third airstrike.

BBC later published stories about the airstrike but did not discuss the relationship between England and Saudi Arabia.

The Independent and The Guardian did pay attention to Yemen’s recent strike, but coverage was minuscule compared to the amount of attention given to the alleged chemical attacks by Syria.

When a Saudi-backed coalition bombed a wedding party on Sunday, no countries called out for sanctions to be imposed on Riyadh.

The U.S. and its Western allies launched a military strike in Syria because they were convinced that the Assad regime was using chemical weapons to kill civilians. However, many people have cast doubt over the allegations voiced by the West. Even the U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated that “there was no evidence of a Syrian chemical attack,” even though he later said, “I believe there was one.”

Mattis’ previous statement that the Pentagon had no evidence of the Assad regime using chemical weapons received little coverage from corporate media outlets. Major media firms backed the West’s attack despite the attack being slammed as a violation of international law.

The West turns a blind eye to Yemen’s humanitarian disaster

Perhaps, the silence of the West and major media companies when it comes to Yemen is because Saudi Arabia is a close friend to some of the Western nations such as Britain, France, and the U.S.

Last year, Washington signed an agreement to sell arms to Riyadh worth $110 billion. In March, Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman bought 48 Typhoon war jets from Britain during his visit to London. French defense contractors supplied war equipment to Saudi Arabia worth $2.4 million in 2015.

“Both Britain and France sell arms to Saudi Arabia, which means they have no interest in dealing with the humanitarian catastrophe here,” said Gunter Meyer, the director of the Centre for Research on the Arab World at the University of Mainz.

Refugees also factor into the European Union’s obliviousness. Unlike Syrian refugees who are seeking asylum and protection in EU nations, Yemeni refugees are often seeking protection within their own country.

Last but not least, the Yemen war lacks the two factors that are traditionally exploited by the West: an anti-Iranian angle and allegations of the use of poisonous gas by an “evil dictator.”

Perhaps the circumstances will eventually draw attention from Western media, but we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for government proactivity to resolve the humanitarian crisis.


War of Truths: Multiple Reporters on the Ground in Syria Say No Chemical Attack

Yasmeen Rasidi

Yasmeen is a writer and political science graduate of the National University, Jakarta. She covers a variety of topics for Citizen Truth including the Asia and Pacific region, international conflicts and press freedom issues. Yasmeen had worked for Xinhua Indonesia and GeoStrategist previously. She writes from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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