plastered the city with fliers proclaiming their slogan — “Death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory to Islam” — a variation of a popular Iranian slogan often chanted by Shiite militants in Iraq and supporters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah…
Houthis staged a massive victory rally in the city, flying Hezbollah flags and portraits of Iran’s late supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
In contrast, The New York Times article on October 9 saw the result as mainly a reflection of internal dissatisfaction, noting,
The Houthis’ ascendance has brought trepidation, but also relief among those who have welcomed the rebels’ populist promises or have simply tired of the government’s failures.
Concerning Iranian or Hezbollah involvement, the Times offered a more nuanced view, “Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s often domineering neighbor, has long painted the Houthis as an Iranian proxy.”
Like the events in eastern Syria and northern Iraq, the fall of Sana’a is a roadmark in the transformative upheaval throughout the region. Yet the media does not effectively convey the connections between seemingly disparate events in Yemen and Syria or Iraq. That is not surprising as even major media organizations do not maintain a solid presence in these conflict areas. As former Associated Press [AP] correspondent Matti Friedman noted in a recent critical essay on the region’s news coverage, “Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the permanent AP presence in that country consisted of a single regime-approved stringer.” According to Friedman, AP devoted 40 times the resources to Israel and the Palestinians as it did to the far larger conflict in Syria. Yemen is even more remote and inaccessible to the media than Syria.
Inevitably, the unbalanced allocation of resources imparts exaggerated importance to minor incidents between Israel and the Palestinians that would not register as newsworthy anywhere else. During exacerbations of hostility, as occurred between Israel and Hamas in the summer of 2014, more media resources are brought in, further squeezing out coverage of the rest of the region.
Such excessive attention to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians creates the impression that there is a unique quality to the Palestinian plight and grievances that demands our undivided attention.
As a consequence, a highly distorted perspective on the region sets in. The casual observer would never guess that despite repeated flare-ups and the limitations imposed on Gazan residents by Israeli and Egyptian security measures, the Palestinians still receive better healthcare and access to clean water and adequate nutrition than do the inhabitants of large swaths of the Middle East. The deluge of wrenching images from the Gaza Strip obscures the reality that cumulative Palestinian fatalities represent a tiny fraction – barely one percent – of what has been experienced across the region in recent years.
Even as the destruction in the Gaza Strip dominated media coverage, more indelible events in the region were occurring elsewhere. Over a two-day period during mid-July, more than 700 deaths were reported in fighting between Islamic militants and Syrian forces, far exceeding the toll in the Gaza Strip during that same period.
It was left to Patrick Goodenough of CNSnews.com, a relatively unknown newcomer to Middle East news coverage, to observe at the time,
As hundreds of thousands of people held pro-Palestinian rallies in cities around the world over the weekend, the death toll in Syria continued to mount, with relatively little attention.
The Yezidis, a small pre-Islamic sect, who most western audiences had never heard of until their dire situation on Mount Sinjar in August 2014 drew media attention, are also not new to victimization. The largest terrorist attack in Iraq during the period of the American intervention in Iraq targeted the Yezidi community. In August, 2007, a coordinated truck bomb attack carried out by Al Quaeda-related terrorists killed as many as 500 civilians gathered for a ceremony.
And the Kurds, a non-Arab Sunni Muslim people long denied sovereignty, again find themselves under attack. The Kurds suffered poison gas attacks by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s and decades of violent suppression by the Syrian regime and successive Turkish governments. A reported 200,000 fled their homes during just four days in early October as the Islamic State advanced on Kurdish towns. The media is now paying more attention, but there are no mass demonstrations and no letter writing campaigns in the West and no widespread agitation on college campuses on their behalf. That is reserved for the Palestinians.
with its 20 million impoverished inhabitants bordering oil-rich Saudi Arabia. After decades of civil conflict, Yemen is a prime breeding ground for Islamic extremist movements including Al Qaeda. Because of its mixed Sunni and Shiite population, it is a target for Iranian subversion. It is a place where few journalists and fewer human rights activists dare to venture.