If the evening news shows aren’t leading with the most recent U.S. Presidential election insults between the candidates, the news focuses on events in Syria.
According to U.N. High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), more than 8.7 million Syrians, or roughly 40% of the population, will be displaced by the end of the year due to the ongoing civil war that began in 2011. However, in that same year, uprisings also began in Yemen and the UNHCR estimates that 80% of the 23.3 million people in the area need humanitarian protection.
International alliances among countries might explain why the West has paid virtually no attention to the Yemeni crisis. Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad has close ties to Russia, the U.S.’s major adversary on the world stage. The U.S. news media has covered the atrocities in Syria extensively because it reflects poorly on Vladimir Putin and Russia. Whereas the main player behind the food shortages in Yemen is Saudi Arabia, America’s strongest ally in the region. News coverage has been limited of the horrible suffering that is ongoing in Yemen, perhaps because the U.S. doesn’t want to highlight the Saudi failure to put down the rebels and help protect civilians.
In many ways, the crisis in Yemen has become a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the U.S. certainly wants to avoid any entanglements on either side of that dispute. If the U.S. is going to be involved Middle East politics at all, its politicians and its news media should not ignore more than 21 million starving Yemenis.