31 December 2015


Wednesday, 30 December 2015 | Finian Cunningham | in Oped 

To understand Western media’s near-blackout of the war in Yemen, see its major advertisers: Etihad, the Emirates, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Bahrain Government
Multi-million-dollar advertising money has long been suspected as an unspoken filter for Western news media coverage. If the news conflicts with advertising interests then it is simply dropped. An example of this is coverage of the conflict in Yemen. Take three major Western media outlets BBC, CNN, France 24. All are notable for their dearth of news coverage on the bloody conflict in Yemen. It also turns out not coincidently that major advertisers on these same news channels include Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad. The latter two feature celebrities Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman, posing as satisfied customers of these Gulf state-owned companies. Other prominent advertisers on BBC, CNN and France 24are Turkish Airlines and the Government of Bahrain’s Business Friendly Bahrain campaign.

This advertising complex has a direct bearing on why the three mentioned Western news channels do not give any meaningful coverage of Yemen. The poorest country in the Arab region is being bombed by a coalition of states that include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and is backed by the US and Britain. Thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed, half of the population is in dire humanitarian conditions from lack of food, water and medicine, according to the United Nations. Due to Western involvement in the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Yemen, one might think that Western media would cover the conflict extensively but not if you watch BBC, CNN or France 24.

There are reliable reports that ground forces fighting against the rebels in Yemen are comprised of Western mercenaries in addition to troops from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE. According to Lebanon's Al Manar news outlet, foreign mercenaries from France, the UK, Australia, Colombia and some Latin American countries have been killed. The mercenaries are first sent to the UAE for training before dispatch to Yemen.

What's more and this is explosive from a journalistic point of view the mercenaries being sent to Yemen also comprise Islamist brigades aligned with the Islamic State terror group. This has been confirmed by senior Yemeni army sources and Arab news outlets, such as Yemen's Masirah TV and Lebanon's Al Akhbar newspaper. According to Brigadier General Ali Mayhoub, of the Syrian Arab Army, hundreds of jihadimercenaries have been secretly flown out of Syria to Yemen onboard civilian airliners belonging to Turkish Airlines, Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways.

The US and its allies claim to be bombing Syria to “degrade and defeat” IS but, according to the Syrian and Russian militaries, they are not serious in their stated aims. The US-led bombing of Syria has been inordinately ineffectual compared with the parallel Russian aerial campaign against the terror groups. The conclusion is that the West's “ineffectiveness” in defeating the IS is a deliberate policy because IS is actually a covert regime-change asset in Syria.

The more overt military intervention in Yemen has seen a catalogue of war crimes. Yet, scarcely any of these gross violations committed in Yemen by the Western-Arab coalition and their connections to terrorist groups in Syria are covered by the three major Western news channels.

Clearly, the censorship is correlated with specific sources of commercial advertising income, which is over-riding the Western public interest in knowing what is really going on in Yemen and how their Governments are involved in violations of international law, including state-sponsored terrorism

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