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The killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi catalyzed even more intense scrutiny toward the human rights record of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Many have pointed out that Khashoggi’s murder did what the deaths of thousands could not: call attention to the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world.
That crisis is the Yemen Civil War, which has ground on since 2014.
Thousands of civilians have been killed by violence, thousands more from starvation.
Here’s Max Fisher, writing for [The New York Times] on why Khashoggi’s death has inspired this reckoning that the war in Yemen could not.
Psychologists have repeatedly found that people experience a greater emotional reaction to one death than to many, even if the circumstances are identical. Perversely, the more victims, the less sympathy that people feel.
The effect even has a name: collapse of compassion. It’s not that we can’t care about a million deaths, psychologists believe. Rather, we fear being overwhelmed and switch off our own emotions in pre-emptive self-defense.
For years, Saudi leaders may have unknowingly benefited from this effect.
How is any individual American, even one in government, to process thousands of cholera cases provoked by Saudi-led measures in Yemen — particularly when the United States assisted those measures? Or how it must have felt to citizens of Bahrain when, in 2011, Saudi tanks rolled into the country to help put down a democratic uprising?
The conflict is understood by many observers as a proxy war. Iran has backed the Houthi rebels, who staged a coup in 2014, and Saudi Arabia (backed by the United States) has led a coalition force on behalf of the government.
How do we better understand what the United Nations has called the world’s biggest humanitarian disaster? What should we make of the reportedly close relationship between the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor?
Is there a way to fix the crisis in Yemen?
Produced by Stef Collett. Text by Gabrielle Healy.
- Sama'a Al-Hamdani Fellow, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, @Yemeniaty
- Shane Harris Intelligence and national security reporter, The Washington Post; Future of War fellow, New America; author, "At War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex" and "The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State"'; @shaneharris
- Lise Grande U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen
- Jane Ferguson Special Correspondent, PBS NewsHour; @JaneFerguson5
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