On May 3, FRONTLINE Reports From Inside Benghazi and Yemen
Benghazi in Crisis/Yemen Under Siege
Premiering on PBS and online:
Tuesday, May 3, 2016, at 10 p.m. ET / 9 p.m. CT
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One hour, two gripping reports: On May 3, FRONTLINE will premiere Benghazi in Crisis and Yemen Under Siege, two short documentaries filmed in the heart of major conflict zones.
First, Benghazi in Crisis: President Barack Obama recently said that failing to plan for post-Qaddafi Libya was his biggest regret as president. Now, the country is ISIS’s biggest base outside Syria and Iraq, and the fight against it is intensifying.
In an on-the-ground report from the war-torn Libyan city of Benghazi — the birthplace of Libya’s uprising, and where U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three colleagues died in an attack by Islamic extremists in 2012 — journalist Feras Kilani shows just how chaotic the situation there has become.
ISIS, other Islamist militants, warring militias and the Libyan army are all fighting for command of the city — and “when you look at the Libyan coast, at least 200 kilometers of it is now under ISIS control,” says Kilani, who has been reporting on the conflict in Libya since the revolution began in 2011.
In Benghazi in Crisis, Kilani joins Libyan fighters as they battle for a central point in the city, meets civilians displaced by the fighting, and sits down with General Khalifa Haftar – who is trying to bring all militias fighting ISIS in Benghazi under his command.
It’s a rare and grim look inside a city in turmoil: “I think Libya might be within months or one or two years one of the nightmares for the West,” Kilani says.
Also this hour, FRONTLINE presents Yemen Under Siege, from journalist Safa al Ahmad. She has been reporting on Yemen since 2010, from the rise of Al Qaeda, to the outbreak of civil war between government forces and Houthi rebels, to the Saudi-led military coalition that has intervened, to the current international efforts at a ceasefire and peace deal.
Once a key American ally in the war on terror, Yemen has been torn apart — and “the different factions involved in the war don’t necessarily want journalists there,” says Al Ahmad, whose previous FRONTLINE documentary, The Fight for Yemen, explored the rise of the Houthis.
But she made her way in — and her camera captures the conflict’s stunning human toll as it’s rarely seen. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city, and for those that remain, life is nearly unbearable. Mortar attacks kill children who are lining up for water. Schools have been closed for months. There used to be 20 hospitals in Taiz; now, only a handful are partially functioning, and even necessities like oxygen — which the doctors need to put patients under general anesthesia — are in short supply.
Even with a United Nations-brokered ceasefire and peace talks under way, the siege of Taiz continues, and Yemen’s future is uncertain.
“The ramifications of Yemen falling apart on the region are massive,” Al Ahmad says. “We’re looking at another Somalia, another Syria, another Iraq, another Libya.”
Benghazi in Crisis and Yemen Under Siege are FRONTLINE and BBC Arabic productions. For Benghazi in Crisis, the director and reporter is Feras Kilani, and the producer is Ben Allen. For Yemen Under Siege, the producer and director is Safa Al Ahmad, the field producers are Ghaith Abdul Ahad and Abdel Aziz Sabri, and the senior producer is Frank Koughan. The executive producer for BBC Arabic is Marc Perkins. The executive producer for FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.
FRONTLINE, U.S. television’s longest running investigative documentary series, explores the issues of our times through powerful storytelling. FRONTLINE has won every major journalism and broadcasting award, including 75 Emmy Awards and 18 Peabody Awards. Visit pbs.org/frontline and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and Google+ to learn more. Founded by David Fanning in 1983, FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation, the John and Helen Glessner Family Trust, the Ford Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.
Patrice Taddonio, Patrice_taddonio@wgbh.org, 617.300.5375