What US and UK media won’t tell you about the war in Yemen

A look at how western media outlets cover the war in Yemen and the powers behind it.

Leaked! Despite War Crimes in Yemen UK Trains Saudi Pilots
Sana’a (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s Houthi movement are holding secret talks to try to end the country’s three-year war, …

The recent Saudi and UAE-led coalition’s assault on the strategic Yemeni port city of Hudaida has forced an estimated 30,000 Yemenis to flee their homes and puts at risk the lives of some 22 million Yemenis who depend on Hudaida as the main gateway for imports of relief supplies and commercial goods.

More than 10,000 people have died in the war in Yemen, which has entered its fourth year, and about 80 percent of the population is in need of humanitarian aid.

The conflict has been cast in ways that have been very misleading to a US or UK audience. People don’t realise how involved our governments are in creating this catastrophe in Yemen. It’s construed as something that just is happening somewhere to people who are fighting each other.

Shireen al-Adeimi, assistant professor at Michigan State University

Yet Yemen’s conflict, which has been described as the “forgotten war” by Amnesty International, receives little media coverage.

If covered, western news outlets consistently portray the conflict as a proxy war between Iranian-backed Houthi-led militias and Yemenis. But how much attention has been given to the US and the UK, whose billion-dollar weapons sales and military assistance have enabled wealthy Gulf states to wage war against the poorest country in the Middle East?

“The conflict has been cast in ways that have been very misleading to a US or UK audience,” says Shireen al-Adeimi, assistant professor at Michigan State University. “People don’t realise how involved our governments are in creating this catastrophe in Yemen. It’s construed as something that just is happening somewhere to people who are fighting each other – casting it as a sectarian war, and more often as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran which is completely misguided.”

Since the war began in 2015, the US and the UK have sold more than $12bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia alone – including some of the warplanes and the payloads they drop.

The American military also provides midair refuelling for Saudi and UAE aircraft, and both British and US personnel assist the Saudis as they target their strikes – hundreds of which have killed civilians.

“When you have coverage which doesn’t really provide context or a proper understanding of the key actors in a conflict and also the role of our own governments, publics are left with a sense of a confused conflict where it’s not clear who’s right or wrong, it’s not clear whether or not we’re involved in it,” says Piers Robinson, a professor at the University of Sheffield.

“These are big political, economic and military relationships which would cause increasing degrees of public dissent if people were fully aware of what’s going on. And you’ve got to remember, there is a close relationship between government officials and journalists,” Robinson adds.

Last year, CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes broadcast a 13-minute in-depth report on the war that openly criticised Saudi Arabia but made not a single mention of the US role in the conflict, the weapons sales or the military and logistical support.

And MSNBC, the 24-hour news channel that Americans consider to be on the liberal side of the political spectrum, dedicated less than four minutes to coverage of the war.

It’s a “shocking failure of journalists to push back on the government’s own narratives”, says the Intercept’s Alex Emmons.

“The fact that journalists are not scrutinising it more just demonstrates that in American media culture it really is ok to devalue the lives of people in the Middle East, and the people that the United States tramples on to obtain its policy goals.”

Published by

Crimson Tazvinzwa

TEACHER & MEDIA TRAINER

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