Arab spring attention fatigue

Arab Spring

The main job of British newspapers is to sell newspapers. The main job of the broadcast news services is to take customers away from other broadcast news services, ratings matter most. Actually reporting the news comes a long way down the pecking order. So mainstream media news content is selected mainly for its entertainment value, not for how important it is. So whether a celebrity has a super injunction to hide their infidelities becomes far more important than revolutionary wars across the Middle East in which the governments of several countries, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Libya, are using huge levels of violence on a daily basis against their own citizens.

Yesterday in Yemen government forces fired on protesters in three cities killing at least 12 people and wounding more than 100, doctors said. As seems standard behaviour now snipers shot at the protesters from rooftops, while government forces fired at the demonstrators at street level. If this had happened a year ago it would have made world wide headlines, yet now nobody notices.

Also yesterday, in Syria (where foreign journalists are not allowed), government tanks were shelling residential areas in two towns, including three neighbourhoods in Homs, the third biggest Syrian city. The Turkish prime minister says fatalities there are now over 1,000 unarmed people. The security forces seal off whole areas of towns then go from house to house mass arresting thousand of people who are taken away to be beaten up and tortured. And the Western media hardly notices.

In Libya the Gaddafi regime is collapsing. In Tripoli the food and fuel is running out. The Libyan armed forces are giving up ground on every front. NATO continues its highly successful attrition of Gaddafi’s fighting assets. And the rebels are receiving significant supplies by sea. Anyone with their ear close to the ground knows this, but not the Western mainstream press.

In Bahrain (also no foreign journalists) the repression of the Shia majority has been brutal. The Bahraini armed forces have received reinforcement from their Sunni friends in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. But still they cannot totally suppress the brave protests. That the regime here is persecuting medical staff who treated injured protesters is just heathen behaviour unfit of civilised people. And of course the Western press see no profit in staying on top of the story.

The beacon amongst the apathy is Al Jazeera, and there is a good analysis each Friday in the Economist. If you want to sift your own raw data then there is plenty online, often put there at huge personal risk. The latest source is the Tribute English language radio station in Benghazi that can be listened to online. (I have just been listening to someone in Tripoli describing how the rebel flag was raised in several places there yesterday and how street protests and armed skirmishes there are increasing.)

So, if you want to be informed about these seminal events that are reshaping a critical region of our planet then you have to go digging yourself, the Western media largely have no interest in carrying the stories

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