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Columnists

Selective Sensitivity: The World’s Response to Conflicts

November 28, 2023

For many years, Israelis and Palestinians coexisted, despite their differences in religion and language. However, external interests became entangled in their affairs, leading to a recent surge in violence marked by numerous casualties, massacres, genocides, civilian suffering, hunger, misery, and acts of terrorism.

For years, Israelis and Palestinians lived in a state of constant vigilance, their fingers always near the trigger. Now, the situation has escalated into a full-blown conflict, drawing the attention of the entire world, particularly the West, which is determined to find a universally acceptable solution. This is undoubtedly a positive development.

A similar scenario unfolded in Ukraine, where Ukrainians and Russians once considered themselves brothers. However, external interests disrupted this bond, causing brother to turn against brother. It became evident that things were going wrong in 2014, and two years ago, the situation reached a breaking point, leading to a conflict between these once-close nations. The Western world, while contributing to the turmoil, is now working behind the scenes to find a resolution. However, some might argue that their efforts come rather belatedly.

In both cases, external interests played a pivotal role in igniting these ‘civil’ conflicts. Now, there is a concerted effort to seek mutually beneficial solutions. Overall, the Western world is showing sensitivity to the loss of thousands of lives and is striving to halt the bloodshed.

However, it’s essential to ask: where was this sensitivity in 1987 during the Congo-Central African Republic war, which claimed the lives of 100,000 people? Or in 1991 during the Somalia-Kenya conflict, which saw over 500,000 casualties? The year 1995 witnessed nearly 2.5 million deaths in Sudan alone. The list goes on: Sudan in 2003, with 350,000 fatalities; 2009’s Boko Haram conflict with over 50,000 deaths, and in 2011, almost 400,000 lives were lost in South Sudan. What about 2012 in Mali, the following year’s Congo-Rwanda war, and the conflicts in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan in 2020? These are just a few of the many conflicts involving tribes or states that have claimed thousands of lives.

For these African nations, the Western world has largely remained unmoved. They have been left to fend for themselves, perpetuating the cycle of violence, poverty, and destitution. These regions lack access to education, healthcare, and cultural development. Why is this so? The answer lies in national and parochial interests.

Sudan is a significant gold producer, while Congo leads in cobalt production and plays a vital role in the diamond industry. Somalia boasts valuable oil and natural gas reserves, and Eritrea’s strategic location near Saudi Arabia and control over key passages, including the Red Sea, the Mediterranean via the Suez canal, and the Indian Ocean, make it a geopolitical asset.

The sensitivity of the wealthy and powerful is undeniably selective, driven primarily by their self-interests. While the world rallies to find solutions in certain regions, it often turns a blind eye to others. This selective approach raises fundamental questions about the global commitment to justice, peace, and humanity, reminding us that our collective efforts must extend beyond strategic interests to ensure a more equitable and compassionate world.

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