During this Arab spring it has amazed me how international media, time after time, really have proven the old cliché about how the world only is able to focus at one conflict at the time. Tunisia and Egypt did not have much competition but after that:
Firstly Bahrain on the 14th of February with the result of Libya’s uprising, that started on the 15th, therefore being largely ignored for days. Then Libya went into the spotlight until the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. And when everyone focused on Japan, a brutal crackdown in Bahrain was mentioned in fotnotes, as well as the fear of Eastern Libyas last outpost, Benghazi, being on the verge of turning into the next Sarajevo.
Then, from nowhere, the UN heard the plea’s from Libyans and approved of bombs. And as soon as the USA gets involved in something, world spotlights turn there.
Yemen, where Saleh has been put under severe pressure, hasn’t really had its 15 minutes of fame at all, despite these protests having been going on for year – or maybe due to that.
And while human rights’ organizations now put the number of killed demonstrators in Syria at more than 1100 (more than were killed during the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings) the coverage in world media is surprisingly small. I am not convinced about the regular explanations – “few speak English”, “nobody wants to rock that boat”, “they don’t allow journalists in”. Those could all be applied to Egypt or Libya as well…
I just think news evalution in many Western media outlets cares more about what the USA cares about. Kuwait got the USA’s attention with the incubator story in the early 1990’s.
With this in mind it will be really interesting to see if Hamza El-Khatib’s story is what it takes to draw international attention to Syria – the story of that 13-year old boy whose kneecaps were crushed, limbs tortured with cigarettes and bullets, and whose penis was cut off before he was finally executed.
Update 5/7: I wrote this post early in June and timecoded it for later editing. Having forfotten about it, it went out a few days ago. I guess we can conclude that the attention was not there from the inetrnational community. Not until refugees started spilling into a European country (Turkey).