Kate Middleton's Baby is More Important Than Syria, Apparently

If, on your way to work Monday morning, you had asked a random bystander what the biggest piece of international news was today, chances are that it would be that Kate Middleton is finally in labor. This is the first successor to the throne born in the age of the internet, leading to op-eds in the Guardian about how the extensive media coverage and glamour surrounding the baby could psychologically harm his or her development. Despite the media's ever-persistent, oftentimes ingenious methods of intruding upon the royal family's privacy, the media had already erroneously reported that the due date was July 13.

As reporters stake out St. Mary's Hospital, their courageous on-the-ground reporting will ensure that the world knows the exact minute when Britain's eventual monarch will make his or her debut into the world. Unfortunately, the perpetual coverage of the pregnancy serves as a convenient, shiny bauble to distract the public from the horrors and atrocities of the Syrian civil war, continuing to overshadow the burgeoning crisis in the Middle East.

In fact, on Sunday activists discovered the bodies of a 13-person family, some of whom burned alive, in a single home in the town of Bayda near the city of Baniyas. Bayda and Baniyas are in the Tartus Province, which is part of Syria's coastal stronghold for Presodemt Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect, a Shi'a minority in a majority Sunni country.

Unsurprisingly, the family was Sunni, and it looks as though pro-government Alawite forces are doubling down their efforts to exterminate Sunnis in the area in order to maintain sectarian hegemony. In April and May, Alawite forces massacred over 100 Sunnis, including women and children, in a spate of similar incidents.

On July 10, a week and a half before the family's murder, a reactionary rebel cleric and commander called for a campaign of terrorism against Alawites on the coast, operating under the ludicrously flawed assumption that they will desert Assad once their safety and stability is threatened.

According to the UNHCR, the conflict has directly affected more than 4,206,680 Syrians. Additionally, there are more than 1.6 million refugees, who are living in abysmal conditions and placing massive economic strain on Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey.

We live in an era when the media can hone in on and cover a single topic as incessantly and irritatingly as ever, and yet the vast majority of mainstream news networks have laid off and disassembled the entirety of their investigative teams. In war-torn areas like Syria, this disgraceful development in the world of news has transferred the burden of investigative reporting onto freelance reporters, who have infinitely more courage and integrity but infinitely less resources.

If mainstream reporters invested a faction of their energy into investigating the myriad of war crimes in Syria, the conflict's on-the-ground developments would be a lot less opaque in the West. Instead, they prefer to use their resources to investigate a royal pregnancy from the comforts of London.

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Bryant Harris

Bryant Harris is a reporter with Inter Press Service News. He has worked in Muscat, Oman and was a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. He graduated from UW-Madison in 2011 with a BA in Middle East Studies.

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