Saudi-led coalition ministers of information meeting probes ways to block critical coverage of Yemen war
“That was the last time I saw Hashem,” recounted Mohammed Al Humran, a local Yemeni journalist, as he told MintPress how his 21-year-old son Hashem was killed in a double-tap airstrike while filming Saudi bombing raids in Dahian, north of Sadaa.
Hashem was one of the 180 journalists who have been killed in Yemen by Saudi-coalition forces, according to a report by the Union of Yemeni Journalists.
Since the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition’s war on Yemen began on March 26, 2015, journalists have been a preferred target, a fact that Saudi Arabia doesn’t shy away from acknowledging. Former coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri said in a March 2015 press conference that opposition media outlets would be targeted by the coalition and just three weeks ago, at a press conference in Riyadh, the Saudi-led coalition’s spokesman reiterated Saudi Arabia’s willingness to target journalists. MintPress News journalist Ahmed AbdulKareem was injured by a Saudi airstrike in 2015 while covering clashes near the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border.
Although the coalition’s war in Yemen barely registers in the international mainstream news, the Saudi coalition and its allies have been desperate to curb negative coverage of the war, which the U.N. has called the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.
Aside from a coalition-imposed moratorium on foreign journalists entering Yemen, a recent report by the Yemeni Media Union highlights a great deal of coalition activity aimed at controlling the narrative surrounding the unpopular war, including: “five cases of cloning ‘tv’ channels, 22 cases of destruction of ‘media’ facilities, 30 cases of targeting radio and television broadcasting centers, seven cases of suspension from broadcasting on Arabsat and Nilesat, and seven cases of blocking and disturbing channels.”
Despite the coalition’s efforts, ongoing work by local journalists and attention from international human-rights organizations continues to draw the ire of coalition leadership, who recently held a meeting of the coalition’s Ministers of Information in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to discuss strategies to curb what they see as a threat posed by local and international media.