Media suspiciously quiet on US & UK-backed Saudi atrocities in Yemen
On Sunday night, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen hit a wedding party in Hajja province, killing up to 50 people. Strangely, no one in the Western media is calling for sanctions or regime change in Riyadh.
In fact, it seems they’re not that concerned at all. This is despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has been repeatedly accused of indiscriminate bombing in Yemen during a military campaign which has brought 8 million civilians to the brink of famine.
By early evening on Monday, BBC News was displaying not one, not two, but five stories about the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s new baby boy. At the time of checking, there was no story at all about Yemen featured on the BBC’s front page.
Cynical minds might suspect this is because the British government is party to the slaughter in Yemen through its selling of massive amounts of weapons to the Saudi government. In the BBC’s piece on the attack, hidden seven stories down on the World News page, there was no mention at all of this relationship between London and Riyadh.
So I see that the (entire?) UK mainstream media has independently decided today not to write about the ongoing UK-backed slaughter in Yemen or UK backing/arming of Israel as it kills protesters. Because no-one tells them what to write, right?— Mark Curtis (@markcurtis30) April 23, 2018
The Guardian and the Independent gave more prominence to the Yemen story than the BBC, both displaying reports on the front pages of their websites – but the levels of outrage were seriously muted in comparison with the reaction to alleged attacks on civilians by the Syrian government.
Journalists in the United States seem to be suffering from the same kind of selective outrage. A CNN story on the deaths in Yemen initially did not mention the words ‘Saudi Arabia’ until the seventh paragraph. The story was later updated to include news of the death of top Houthi leader Saleh al-Sammad, while the news about the deaths of up to 50 people at the wedding was knocked down to the fourth paragraph. This strange reluctance to be harsh on Riyadh or to give the Yemen war the prominence it deserves in the media, is clearly an effort to downplay atrocities which won't play as well in front of a Western audience. It's harder to play the role of the outraged anchor when you have to explain that the US signed an arms deal worth $110 billion with Saudi Arabia last year – a deal which included $7 billion worth of “precision weapons” from Raytheon and Boeing.
Britain is arming its Saudi dictatorship ally to the teeth, and our country shares responsibility for this sickening bloodshed in Yemen. https://t.co/7nV4AaQSn4— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) April 23, 2018
Perhaps if the White Helmets had shown up with a video camera and accusations of chemical weapons use, the story would have gotten more traction. Alas, it appears a gentler kind of bomb was used to kill the civilian victims. Reading the Western reports on Yemen, you get the sense that it is being reported out of duty, only to be buried somewhere and forgotten about the next day.
International outrage will be muted because unlike in Douma there aren’t allegations of chlorine use. More importantly, the atrocity in Yemen doesn’t have an anti-Iran angle because the Saudis perpetrated it. https://t.co/uYXIVVFpt7— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) April 23, 2018
In a joint communiqué issued following a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Britain, the UK government wrote that it welcomed Riyadh’s “continuing commitment” to ensuring that its military campaign in Yemen “is conducted in accordance with international humanitarian law.”
It remains to be seen whether UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the British press corps will issue a tough rebuke to Saudi Arabia following the most recent atrocity. Op-ed pieces about how the Saudi regime ‘must go’ are surely in the works as we speak.
Eight million people are on the verge of famine in #Yemen, but Theresa May, who definitely cares about human rights, is pretending that Saudi Arabia is conducting its operations in accordance with international law. It's like she's selling weapons to them or something... pic.twitter.com/dA56nUzu86— Danielle Ryan (@DanielleRyanJ) April 3, 2018
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