by Aramco. While Saudi authorities refused to assign blame, media outlets like the BBC immediately began insinuating either Yemen’s Houthis or Iran were responsible.
The BBC in its article, “Saudi Arabia oil facilities ablaze after drone strikes,” would inject toward the top of its article:
Iran-aligned Houthi fighters in Yemen have been blamed for previous attacks.
Following an ambiguous and evidence-free description of the supposed attacks, the BBC even included an entire section titled, “Who could be behind the attacks?” dedicated to politically expedient speculation aimed ultimately at Tehran.
The BBC would claim:
Houthi fighters were blamed for drone attacks on the Shaybah natural gas liquefaction facility last month and on other oil facilities in May.
The Iran-aligned rebel movement is fighting the Yemeni government and a Saudi-led coalition.
Yemen has been at war since 2015, when President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was forced to flee the capital Sanaa by the Houthis. Saudi Arabia backs President Hadi, and has led a coalition of regional countries against the rebels.
The coalition launches air strikes almost every day, while the Houthis often fire missiles into Saudi Arabia.
Deliberately missing from the BBC’s history lesson are several key facts, leaving readers to draw conclusions that conveniently propel the West’s agenda versus Iran forward.
The US and Saudi Arabia vs. MENA
The war in Yemen was a result of US-backed regime change operations aimed at Yemen – along with Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Syria, and Egypt – starting in 2011.
Major hostilities began when the client regime installed by the US was ousted from power in 2015. Since then, the US and its Saudi allies have brutalized and ravaged Yemen triggering one of the worst humanitarian crises of the 21st century.
The UN’s own news service in an article titled, “Humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains the worst in the world, warns UN,” would admit:
An estimated 24 million people – close to 80 per cent of the population – need assistance and protection in Yemen, the UN warned on Thursday. With famine threatening hundreds of thousands of lives, humanitarian aid is increasingly becoming the only lifeline for millions across the country.
The cause of this catastrophe is the deliberate blockading of Yemen. Reuters in its article, “U.N. aid chief appeals for full lifting of Yemen blockade,” would report:
The United Nations appealed on Friday to the Saudi-led military coalition to fully lift its blockade of Yemen, saying up to eight million people were “right on the brink of famine”.
Essentially – the United States – with the largest economy and most powerful military in the world – along with its allies in Riyadh – are attempting to erase an entire nation off the map through bombings, starvation, and disease.
Saudi aggression carried oNew York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Sept. 15, 2019 that he plans to pursue emergency regulations to quickly ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, making New York the second state to consider such a ban. Cuomo’s action came only days after the Trump administration called for a ban on flavored e-cigarettes in an effort to address six recent vaping deaths and 380 cases of confirmed or probable lung diseases in the U.S.
On Sept. 4, Michigan announced a ban on the sale of flavored cigarettes that is expected to go into effect within 30 days of the announcement.
There’s ample reason for concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a significant increase in use of any tobacco product among youth from 2017 to 2018, the most recent year for which data are available. In 2018, more than 4 million high schools students and 840,000 middle schools students used any tobacco product, with e-cigarettes driving the surge. The increase among high school students represented a 78% increase, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
The upsurge started in 2011, when 1.5 percent of high school students, or 220,000, reported e-cigaratte usage in the past 30 days. In 2018, 20.8 percent, or 3.01 million, high school students surveyed reported e-cigarette use in the past 30 days.
There is strong reason to believe that flavoring, such as mango, cucumber, strawberry lemonade, and others are a factor in the increase. I work in the field of tobacco control and have conducted studies that show that flavors lead kids to underestimate the risk of tobacco products. Research shows that flavored tobacco products have the potential to undermine progress gained to reduce youth tobacco use in the U.S.
The increase in e-cigarette usage by youth is not by chance. Tobacco companies have spent billions of dollars annually on tobacco product advertisement, according to a Federal Trade Commission report, and have used appealing packaging, culturally tailored brand names and advertisements that appear to target specific minorities and youth.
The colorful packaging and other strategies employed by the tobacco and e-cigarette industry contribute to lower harm perceptions of these products and increase susceptibility to use among young people, according to researchers at the Center for Global Tobacco Control, Harvard School of Public Health and recent research on cigarillo packaging I conducted with my research team.
While tobacco companies spend billions on their own research, those of us who study public health, specifically tobacco control and prevention have conducted our own research.
Using a survey of young adults aged 18 to 26 recruited through an online crowd-sourcing tool, our group of researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine found in a study published in PLOS ONE that cigarillo pack flavor descriptors, such as grape and sweet, and colors such as pink and purple, resulted in more favorable product perceptions among young adults. These pack attributes had a greater impact on how people who had never used cigarillos perceived product flavor and taste, compared to current cigarillo users, and people who have previously used them.
Further, we conducted a systematic review of all the scientific literature through April 2016 examining the impact of flavors on tobacco product perceptions and use behaviors. Important findings from this study, published in Tobacco Control, suggested that flavored tobacco products have a strong appeal to youth and young adults because of the variety and availability of flavors; that flavors are a reason for use; and that flavors play a primary role in the use of e-cigarettes, little cigars and cigarillos, and hookah among younger people. An update of this review, “The Impact of Non-Menthol Flavors in E-Cigarettes on Perceptions and Use: An Updated Systematic Review”, will be published in BMJ Open by the end of the year.