Interesting to see (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16191266) that the European Parliament has voted not to extend a fishing deal with Morocco because, say MEPs, "the deal was illegal as it did not benefit the people living in the disputed Western Sahara, off which most of the fishing took place".
According to the BBC: "Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1976 but its claims of sovereignty have not been internationally recognised. The separatist Polisario movement fought a guerrilla war against Moroccan troops until 1991 and still seeks to be recognised as an independent state."
Sounds familiar? And yet how often do we hear news of this territorial dispute (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14115273), or condemnation of Morocco for this occupation? Why is the plight of Saharawis any less significant than the plight of Palestinians? And yet while the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (or "the Middle East", as some people call it, when the Middle East is not a conflict, it's a region populated by hundreds of millions of people, of whom the Israelis and Palestinians are but a fraction) is discussed endlessly, I rarely hear anything about Western Sahara.
This habit of focusing on the few headline conflicts that we all know about, while ignoring all the others, is dangerous. It is dangerous because it means that wounds fester untended in large parts of the world, only for the conflicts concerned to suddenly explode as if from nowhere. It is dangerous because people who deserve our attention are being ignored. And it is dangerous because it means that we have only a self-reinforcingly partial world-view, as those conflicts that catch our eye remain the ones to which we constantly return in search of news, while other conflicts (in which equal or greater numbers of people are being killed) barely get reported. See also: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2102098,00.html?xid=gonewsedit