Saturday, December 2, 2023

Yemeni crisis: Arab media on the same wavelength

Alef, an Iranian website, has taken a critical look at the news coverage of the Yemeni crisis, saying that the Arab media are manipulating the facts in the Saudi favor.

The story of the new Saudi king evokes The Emperor’s New Clothes*; an emperor who comes among people unclothed but the admiration expressed by those surrounding him forces people to praise his new suit, ignorant of the fact that people have had their fill of the king’s indecent manners.

The new outfit King Salman has draped Saudi Arabia’s policies with is unbecoming of all political and human principles, but the fact is that the Arab media are trying to depict the outfit as beautiful and elegant. They are unaware that what they’re earnestly doing has done little to change the impact the Saudi policies have had [in the region].

Alef, a news website, has published a report on the news coverage by foreign and Arab media of the Yemeni crisis, explaining how their biased look at a regional crisis is to benefit the new Saudi king and his odd policies. The following is the translation of excerpts of the report:

These media – which do not see the deadly Saudi airstrikes on Yemen and Riyadh’s undemocratic efforts to form a coalition against popular forces there – aim to counter Ansarullah and the policies of the Houthis in Yemen.

Al Riyadh [a pro-government Saudi daily newspaper] has blamed the Shiites and popular forces for unrest in the country.

To bolster the Saudi coalition against Yemen, this newspaper magnifies Iran’s role in the Yemeni crisis to distract public opinion and conceal the inhuman acts behind the deep-rooted feuds.


A coalition to divert public attention

Diverting the attention of people is one of the methods media use to manipulate public opinion. When public opinion becomes sensitive to an issue, they [the media] create parallel news stories to push public opinion off course. To that end, they also try to slant the new stories and play up their own policies.

Accordingly, Al Arabiya [a Saudi-owned pan-Arab television news channel] carried headlines such as “Kerry urges Houthis, allies to enter talks”, “Yemen’s [P]GCC membership is rightly back on the agenda” and “Iran tried to break naval blockade, Yemen minister says” to twist the facts.

A closer look at Al Arabiya’s headlines on Yemen – which highlight the killing of Arab soldiers who are fighting the Houthis to bring the Yemeni crisis to an end – shows that the readers get the least information on collateral damage caused by the operations of the Saudi-led coalition.

Irrespective of the true story and the interpretation of the policies provided by the two sides of the conflict, the coverage by the Arab media of the Saudi airstrikes on Yemen reveals one point: an unwritten alliance has been formed among the Arab media to reflect the ground realities in line with the policies of the Al-Saud family.

Al Jazeera [a Doha-based broadcaster funded by the House of Thani, the ruling family of Qatar] is another Arab medium which underscores foreign meddling in Yemen, but it looks as though the editors-in-chief of this broadcaster do not see the Saudi aggression. Al Jazeera carries an item on volunteer forces – who join the fight on ISIL – and picks the following headline for it: “Iraq’s Badr Organization Offers to Join Yemen’s Ansarullah in War against Al-Saud”.

London inflames the situation

The use of “the Yemeni government” for the cabinet of the ousted Yemeni president is another diversion in the media world. The BBC takes a similar stand and uses the term “the government-in-exile” and gives [extensive] coverage to the Yemeni news and views, especially those which are against Iran.

Following remarks by the Iranian foreign minister on [Iran’s four-point initiative for] solving the Yemeni crisis, the BBC picks this headline: “Yemen government rejects Iranian peace plan” to reflect comments by the spokesman of the former Yemeni government [Rajeh Badi] who is in Qatar.

Instead of covering news items on the Saudi aggression on Yemen, the BBC always tries to play up [what it calls] Iran’s interference in the Arab country’s [internal] affairs, releasing undocumented remarks by members of the former Yemeni government or analyses by European and American experts and officials.

The BBC’s use of rebels for the country’s popular front merits attention. Viewers have not forgotten the word “militants” – the BBC’s term of choice for ISIL forces in Syria. The various denotations the British medium uses for the former Yemeni government and the Arab country’s popular front – compared with what it employs for other regional crises – clearly discloses the BBC’s [biased] media policies.

Al Riyadh, Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera in cooperation with the BBC are trying to display the new clothes of the Saudi King’s policies as something beautiful and fancy. They also try to divert public opinion by portraying the Saudi war measures as something that serves the best interests of the region.

They should not forget the fact that the audiences in the new media age are searching for the truth in a more dynamic fashion, and that multiple media have stepped in to break a [media] monopoly over recounting the events. This has rendered their efforts – to influence public opinion – more complex than before.

The Emperor’s New Clothes is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that he doesn’t see any suit of clothes until a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”
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