Selective humanity; who stood with Yemen?
The camera frame and social platforms have become the most important political tools in our modern age. How did the international community keep Yemen out of the camera focus?
Seven years ago...
At 1 am, the first Saudi airstrike shook Yemen and plunged the country into what has been designated as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Seven years of aggression led to 46,262 casualties, martyrs and wounded.
Seven years later...
The world continues to maintain silence on Yemen, Western powers didn't halt any arms sales to the bloody coalition, and millions of Yemenis are still at the brink of starvation. Today, the people of Yemen learned the truth in the hardest way: Humanity is selective and the war on Yemen is not a choice.
After Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine, which just turned one month old, the international community was quick to launch funding campaigns, Western powers imposed all-out draconian sanctions and banned Russia from all international events, all with the aim of completely isolating the country. Doing so, the international community aimed to halt the military operation.
Now ask yourself, why didn't the international community put the same effort into Yemen? Instead of sanctioning Saudi Arabia, the international community heavily armed it. Instead of securing humanitarian corridors and humanitarian aid, the international community preached empty statements in false solidarity with the children of Yemen.
Despite all the atrocities in Yemen, Western media remained silent on the aggression. Reports indicate that mainstream US media have aired an approximate cumulative of 92 minutes of coverage since the beginning of the war; that is, a war of seven years so far. If this major humanitarian crisis fails to make the news, what do US news outlets deem newsworthy and headline material?
How does media shape the war?
The modern age relies desperately on the media and social platforms to keep up with global events. As a weapon, the camera can be used in favor of or against the oppressed and oppressor. Media bias is inevitable in a world of so many opinions, but the question here is - is humanity a matter of opinion?
The power of the media relies on what content is broadcasted and what is not.
The extremely limited international attention directed toward Yemen can mean two things; the war on Yemen is not important or the international audience is not be informed of what is happening in the other part of the world. That said, the narrative on Yemen cannot be easily criticized by Americans without implicating themselves. Considering that the United States backs the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, how would it justify its intervention there, noting that Saudi Arabia is responsible for high civilian death tolls and a list of war crimes?
Political US coverage
Structurally, the media carefully broadcast content to avoid touching on the United States’ longstanding relationship with a country like Saudi Arabia, which would expose the US' bloody intervention. That is why it would rather ignore the Yemen situation altogether.
Did you know that since Saudi Arabia declared war on Yemen in 2015, it was listed as the World’s largest arms importer from 2015 through 2019? According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, its imports of arms increased by 130% compared to the previous five-year period. In numbers, the US exported a total of 73% and the UK a total of 13% of these arms to Saudi Arabia.
Moreover, US arms sales amounted to $3 billion in five years from 2015 till 2020, also agreeing to sell over $64.1 billion worth of weapons to Riyadh, which is around $10.7 billion annually.
Read more: Yemen, graveyard of US-Saudi bloody alliance
On the other hand, during Trump's administration, the collaboration between Fox News and the Republican Party could explain a thread of the network’s negligence to highlight the current administration’s foreign policy failings, however, other opposing networks were equally silent because of Obama's involvement in the war.
Media outlets can't use the US support of Saudi's atrocities in Yemen because of the consequences that would be bestowed upon the administration.
Seven years of raging war on Yemen exhausted the population’s capacity to cope, and the global attention shifted toward Ukraine following Russia's military operation. The darkest forms of irony have been heard by officials concerning Ukraine with complete disregard for Yemen. Simply, the core players fuelling the Saudi war on Yemen have taken a stand in solidarity with Ukraine.
In numbers, so far, there are 17,734 martyrs, including 4,017 children, 2,434 women, and 11,283 men, while the number of the wounded reached 28,528, including 4,586 children, 2,911 women, and 10,032 men.
In the latest international campaign, #EndTheSiegeOnYemen was trending in solidarity with Yemen. Activists, human rights advocates, and media professionals around the world launched a wide international campaign on social media demanding ending the siege on Yemen which caused the country to plunge into the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
The campaign was launched under the title "End the Siege on Yemen" to shed light on the forgotten suffering of the Yemeni people as a result of the blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition on the country and to mobilize efforts to end it right now.
Many activists interacted with the campaign on Twitter under the hashtag #EndTheSiegeOnYemen. Some highlighted the world's selective humanity when it came to the hype for Ukraine and negligence for Yemen.
Media's "less global" shift
It is as simple as that, the United States and its Western allies have rediscovered the importance of international law when it comes to Ukraine but continue to turn a blind eye to Yemen.
Russia's special operation in Ukraine, unlike similar incidents in times past, has taken the social media platforms by storm, with memes, misinformation campaigns, and scams all adding to the growing maelstrom of information, which can confuse and cloud what’s actually happening.
Meta's Facebook is censoring all state news, accusing any Russian outlet of spreading misinformation. In return, the social platform is actively working in solidarity with Ukraine. But one can't help but ask, did platforms like Facebook ever closely monitor misinformation or any information about war-torn states in the world?
It also announced that it will restrict access to content from Russian state-affiliated media outlets RT and Sputnik in response to requests from EU officials, suppressing all claimed notions of freedom of expression.
Moreover, social media platforms chose to selectively censor fake news, keeping misinformation that hail Ukraine on the internet. Ahed Tamimi was a Palestinian girl, depicted as a Ukrainian girl, for global sympathy.
Double standards in censorship were highlighted when the all-Yemeni Ansar Allah resistance movement in Yemen was censored, but all mercenaries in Ukraine were being promoted. That made the reach on Yemen minimal, while news on Ukraine witnessed overwhelming worldwide traffic.
Moreover, the internet was widely active in promoting an anti-Russian campaign, which triggered Russophobia, to feed the Western agenda in Eastern Europe.
Social platforms have become powerful tools to recruit international "volunteers" to fight in Ukraine in the face of Russia. In a first of its kind, the White House held a special briefing on the Ukraine war with TikTok stars such as 18-year-old Ellie Zeiler, who has more than 10 million followers. The US has adopted a new approach to grab the younger generation and recruit them against Russia.
Earlier this month, up to 20,000 "international volunteers" have traveled to fight Russia in Ukraine, mostly coming from European countries, according to a Ukrainian top official on Sunday.
"This number is around 20,000 now. They come from many European countries mostly," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN. "Many people in the world hated Russia and what it was doing in recent years, but no one dared to openly oppose and fight them."
This comes alongside the 16,000 foreign mercenaries whom Zelensky announced will be fighting in Ukraine.
The conflict in Ukraine shed major light on social media’s political role as a tool. Its part in broadcasting the conflict highlighted the importance of media in shaping the internet forever.
It is worth noting that Russia had launched a special military operation for several reasons, such as NATO's eastward expansion, the Ukrainian shelling of Donbass, and the aggression of Ukrainian forces against the Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic, which has been ongoing since 2014, as well as de-nazifying and demilitarizing Ukraine.
The UNSC is expected to prevent war, but it has instead backed the US-Saudi-led military coalition against the country.
At the end of last year, the UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg filed an empty and useless report that read "frustration" regarding the war on Yemen.
However, his statement isn't the first or last of empty promises to fight for Yemen and against the humanitarian crisis. Nevertheless, Washington's disguised backing of the coalition remains behind the curtains.
The UNSC remains in favor of the government under "conflict resolution", but what the UNSC is doing is betray the Yemenis day by day. It is no longer a "conflict" with the government, it is a full-scale war by the Saudi-led coalition against the people of Yemen.
Yemen in the shadows
Recently, the UN said the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen risks being forgotten as the world focuses on the war in Ukraine. And according to experts, that conflict is also likely to directly impact Yemen's already stricken food supply.
Apart from drawing attention away from the war on Yemen, the war in Ukraine threatens to worsen the humanitarian situation in the Arab nation, with 22% of the country's wheat coming from Ukraine and Russia.
In 2020, the UN Security-General released his annual “list of shame," which included several violations against children committed in 2018, in which at least 729 children were killed or maimed.
However, the Security-General chose to list the Saudi-led coalition as a party that is improving the situation in Yemen, despite the overwhelming evidence that proves otherwise.
In addition, Security Council members call for a ceasefire in Yemen and go ahead with providing arms to prolong the war, instead of suspending all arms sales. In other words, the Council has offered nothing but empty statements regarding the war.
Who is looking behind the curtains?
Media outlets are dedicated to broadcasting global events and issues around the world. US media coverage is also dedicated to covering global issues, especially ones that help spread its agenda across the map. However, the tragedy of the people of Yemen, in the meantime, is completely shadowed, as the international community continues to turn a blind eye to the ongoing atrocities.
The lack of mainstream coverage for Yemen raises many questions on where the media’s priorities stand: Is the US hiding the atrocious crimes in Yemen to protect its relations with the Kingdom? Are the billions in arms sales fuelling the US economy more important than thousands of human lives? Keeping Yemen in the shadows will spare the US the need to justify its interference and its intimate relations with the Gulf.
With all eyes focused on Ukraine, who is willing to take one look farther to behold the sufferings the Yemeni people have been undergoing for full seven years?