For more than two years, Yemen has been consumed by civil war. The country has been rocked by air-strikes carried out by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition receiving strategic backing and weapons from the United States.
This past May, FRONTLINE’s Martin Smith and his film crew had the rare opportunity to enter Yemen and film what they saw. The result is the short documentary “Inside Yemen,” which aired recently on PBS.
The film shows a country whose infrastructure has been torn apart by air-strikes and a devastating Cholera outbreak. While not necessarily at the forefront of American news coverage, the people of Yemen are currently suffering through what the United Nations has called the “largest humanitarian crisis” in the world.
A profound moment in the documentary is when Smith and the film crew, who are obviously foreigners, attend a protest rally. While people at the demonstration could have easily taken out their frustrations on the American film crew, they do not.
Instead, the demonstrators discuss their belief that there’s a clear distinction between the actions of the U.S. government in Yemen and people who live in the United States.
Smith joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to discuss what he saw first-hand in Yemen.
“It was certainly true in Yemen that people make a distinction between the (United States) government and the people,” says Smith. “And they certainly have reason to do that in their own countries because many of these countries are ruled by dictatorial regimes.”
According to Smith, the people in Yemen saw the American film crew’s presence as a chance to “get the word out.”
Smith and his film crew were some of the only journalists to enter Yemen last year, which took quite a while to arrange.
“It took us many months to finally get approval to go in,” he says.
Smith’s “Inside Yemen” is part of a larger three-hour project that will air in 2018.
Click on the audio play above for the full conversation.