Deborah Amos

Deborah Amos covers the Middle East for NPR News. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition.

Amos travels extensively across the Middle East covering a range of stories including the rise of well-educated Syria youth who are unqualified for jobs in a market-drive economy, a series focusing on the emerging power of Turkey and the plight of Iraqi refugees.

In 2009, Amos won the Edward Weintal Prize for Diplomatic Reporting from Georgetown University and in 2010 was awarded the Edward R. Murrow Life Time Achievement Award by Washington State University. Amos was part of a team of reporters who won a 2004 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for coverage of Iraq. A Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1991-1992, Amos was returned to Harvard in 2010 as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School.

In 2003, Amos returned to NPR after a decade in television news, including ABC's Nightline and World News Tonight and the PBS programs NOW with Bill Moyers and Frontline.

When Amos first came to NPR in 1977, she worked first as a director and then a producer for Weekend All Things Considered until 1979. For the next six years, she worked on radio documentaries, which won her several significant honors. In 1982, Amos received the Prix Italia, the Ohio State Award, and a DuPont-Columbia Award for "Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown" and in 1984 she received a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for "Refugees."

From 1985 until 1993, Amos spend most of her time at NPR reporting overseas, including as the London Bureau Chief and as an NPR foreign correspondent based in Amman, Jordan. During that time, Amos won several awards, including an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a Break thru Award, and widespread recognition for her coverage of the Gulf War in 1991.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Amos is also the author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East (Public Affairs, 2010) and Lines in the Sand: Desert Storm and the Remaking of the Arab World (Simon and Schuster, 1992).

Amos began her career after receiving a degree in broadcasting from the University of Florida at Gainesville.

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Parallels
1:06 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Syria's Army On The Verge Of Retaking The Country's Largest City

A Syrian man carries a girl on a street covered with dust following a government airstrike in Aleppo on Tuesday. Rebels took the eastern half of the city in 2012 but are now in danger of being forced out by President Bashar Assad's troops.
Baraa Al-Halabi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 6:02 pm

When Syria's rebels were on the offensive in 2012, they captured the eastern half of Aleppo and the surrounding countryside. But now President Bashar Assad's troops are poised to retake all of the city that is the largest in Syria and served as the prewar financial capital.

A new military campaign is heating up as Assad, who assumed power when his father, Hafez Assad, died in 2000, was sworn in Wednesday for his third term as president. A rebel defeat could be a crushing blow to what is left of the country's three-year rebellion against the Syrian regime.

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Parallels
11:59 am
Mon July 14, 2014

In Defiance of Damascus, Aid Goes Cross-Border To Rebel-Held Areas

A Mercy Corps warehouse is filled with hygiene kits for distribution in Syria.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 5:53 am

The warehouse off a dusty back road near the Turkish frontier is vast. Large wooden crates are stacked and ready for delivery to the desperate and displaced inside Syria.

This is the operations hub for Mercy Corps, a U.S.-based charity, and one of the largest aid providers to civilians in rebel-held areas in northern Syria. There are many other aid organizations working on a multimillion-dollar cross-border aid operation funded by Western governments, including the U.S.

For the first time, aid officials are talking about the program openly.

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Parallels
3:14 am
Sat July 5, 2014

Have The Islamist Militants Overreached In Iraq And Syria?

People walk through the market area in Erbil, Iraq. Tens of thousands of displaced Iraqis and Syrians have converged on the ancient city after fleeing fighting in their hometowns.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 8:48 am

The Islamist radicals who have declared an Islamic caliphate on land they control straddling Iraq and Syria are waging an audacious publicity stunt, according to some analysts.

While it may bring them even greater attention, it's also likely to be an overreach that will open rifts with its current partners, the Sunni Muslims in Iraq who welcomed the militant group in early June. They all share the goal of overthrowing Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his sectarian rule, but the more secular parts of the Sunni coalition didn't sign up for an Islamic state.

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Iraq
6:12 am
Sun June 29, 2014

Emerging Alliances In Mosul Raise Tensions And Complications

Originally published on Sun June 29, 2014 10:23 am

Sunni militants were originally welcomed when they rolled into the Iraqi city of Mosul, but now there's a power struggle between the local tribes, Sunnis and Saddam Hussein's former Baathist party.

Iraq
2:30 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

For Iraqi Christians, Return To Captured City Is A Fraught Mandate

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 4:33 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Mosul is northern Iraq's largest city and the takeover by ISIS has prompted an exodus of the last remaining Iraqi Christians there. The seizure raised fears that a thousand years of Christian culture would vanish. But in recent days, some Christian families have returned to Mosul and surrounding villages. And soon they'll be joined by the Archbishop of the Chaldean Church. NPR's Deborah Amos caught up with him in nearby Erbil.

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Parallels
1:36 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Iraq's Ethnic Kurds See Opportunity In Nation's Chaos

A member of the Kurdish security forces stand guard atop a armored vehicle at Taza district, south of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, Iraq, Friday, June 20, 2014.
Emad Matti AP

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 5:59 am

Iraq is in chaos, but the country's ethnic Kurds might come out ahead.

They rule a semi-autonomous area in the north that is fairly prosperous and safe, and as the Iraqi army crumbled before militants this month, Kurdish forces moved in to take long-sought areas that had been under the central government in Baghdad.

The Kurds are now talking about their generations-old dream of independence, but they still face many dangers.

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Iraq
2:15 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

At Iraq's Largest Oil Refinery, Siege Nears A Complicated Conclusion

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 5:14 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Iraq
3:44 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

After Mosul's Fall, Iraqis Adjust To New Normal Under ISIS

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 5:08 pm

Not all Sunnis are on board with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, even if they oppose the Iraqi government. One ranking Sunni cleric in northern Iraq calls ISIS "scum" and hints at limits to the group's influence.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Iraq
2:22 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

ISIS Presses Its Advance, Attacking Iraq's Largest Oil Refinery

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 5:08 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Parallels
5:54 am
Sat June 7, 2014

Like 'Doctor Who,' Syrian Activists Hang In Limbo Post-Election

Syrian activist Dandachi found solace, and lessons, in Doctor Who (the title role portrayed here, in his 11th incarnation, by English actor Matt Smith).
Adrian Rogers BBC

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 7:19 am

A popular, British science-fiction TV show about a time-traveler would seem to have few parallels with the Syrian civil war. But one Syrian activist sees some apt comparisons.

When Syrian President Bashar Assad was re-elected for a third term in office this week — in a tightly controlled election in which official results showed 87.7 percent of voters supported him — it demonstrated Assad's confidence, even three years after much of the country rose against him.

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Middle East
5:38 am
Wed June 4, 2014

U.S. Policy In Syria Could No Longer Be Defended, Ex-Ambassador Says

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 6:32 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. President Obama's former point man on Syria resigned because he can no longer defend U.S. policy there. Ambassador Robert Ford was once known for dramatic gestures supporting Syria's opposition. But Ford says, as the uprising became a civil war he was frustrated by limited U.S. support for rebels. And even now, Ford told the "PBS NewsHour" he is not sure the Obama administration is doing enough.

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Parallels
1:29 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

What Syria's President Seeks From A Not-So-Democratic Election

Women walk past election posters of Syria's President Bashar Assad on a Damascus street on Monday. Despite the civil war, the election will be held Tuesday in areas controlled by Assad's government. Assad became president after his father's death in 2000 and is assured of winning a third seven-year term.
Khaled al-Hariri Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 6:27 pm

The Turkish border city of Gaziantep becomes more Syrian by the day. New waves of refugees have arrived since January. In the market, Syrian craftsmen hammer out copper pots and plates, as they did back home in Aleppo.

"We left to save our children," says Ali Abu Hassan. "The bombs come every day."

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Parallels
7:04 am
Sat April 12, 2014

Iran's Culture Wars: Who's Winning These Days?

Members of the Iranian band Accolade perform in an unauthorized stage performance in the capital Tehran in January 2013. Those seeking greater social freedoms are often testing the limits in Iran.
Vahid Salemi AP

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 11:49 am

In Iran, hardline critics are waging a campaign against President Hassan Rouhani to limit his campaign pledge of opening Iran to more social and cultural freedoms.

The "culture wars" are as old as the Islamic revolution that swept conservative clerics to power more than three decades ago. The latest chapter comes as Rouhani is negotiating a nuclear deal with six world powers. He has the backing of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to continue the nuclear discussions, but cultural hardliners are stepping up the domestic pressure.

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Parallels
2:32 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Iranians Begin To Feel The Heavy Burden Of Syria's War

A man looks at an unexploded barrel bomb that landed in a cemetery after being dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Thursday.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 2:04 pm

The Syrian civil war has been a major headache for President Obama. Critics at home and abroad, like Saudi Arabia, where the president was on Friday, have urged the U.S. to do more.

But the U.S. isn't the only country that's faced difficult choices over Syria. Iran and Syria have been close allies for decades. And in Iran, discussions about Syria are surprisingly frank, complex and demonstrate growing divisions over how to handle a costly war that has no end in sight.

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Parallels
2:23 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Viral Photo Of Syrian War Victims Comes To Times Square

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 4:20 pm

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Parallels
2:30 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

A Syrian Refugee Camp With Girl Scouts And A Safeway Store

An informal Girl Scout group at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan sings: "We want to learn and rise up to fulfill our dreams."
Nabih Bulos NPR

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 6:57 pm

On a sunny afternoon in the dusty, overcrowded Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, a group of Syrian girls recites a familiar pledge and hope to change their future. The youngsters promise to serve God and country, to help people at all times and live by the laws of the Girl Scouts.

The troop was organized by Hanna Vazquez, a volunteer with Mercy Corps, a U.S.-based humanitarian group.

"We are going to do the Girl Scout music badge," she says, as the girls gather around.

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Middle East
3:01 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Syrian Conflict Marches Into Fourth Year

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 9:59 am

The Syrian uprising started three years ago this week with protests and eventually a military crackdown that led to all-out civil war. More than 130,000 people have died.

Middle East
8:58 am
Sun March 16, 2014

Saudi Aid Boost To Syrian Rebels Puts Jordan At Risk

Syrian refugees have flooded the Zaatari refugee camp, near the Jordanian border with Syria.
Khalil Mazraawi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 9:55 am

For months, a military stalemate has defined the war in Syria. Now, a new strategy is emerging as Western allies and Gulf states step up support for rebels in southern Syria.

Along Jordan's northern border, Syrian rebels say they are unifying their fractious ranks, urged to unite by Western and Arab intelligence operatives who work in a covert command center in Jordan's capital.

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Parallels
1:27 am
Fri March 14, 2014

'Waiting For Godot' Strikes A Chord In Tehran

Just as characters in the play "Waiting for Godot" wait for someone named Godot, some believe that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is Iran's only politician who can end the country's waiting when it comes to resolving a nuclear deal.
Behrouz Mehri AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 9:27 am

At the National Theater in downtown Tehran, "Waiting for Godot" seems to have captured the mood of a country.

The Irish playwright, Samuel Beckett dramatized endless waiting in vain for someone named Godot. The play, translated into Farsi, got a standing ovation on the night I attended. The characters, in classic white suits, black top hats and black shoes, took endless bows as the audience whistled and clapped.

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Middle East
1:08 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Iranian Women Make A Push For Greater Opportunities

Iranian women, shown here in downtown Tehran, are among groups in the country pushing for social and economic change.
Ebrahim Noroozi AP

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 7:02 pm

Iran is starting to see a re-launch of activist groups following the election last year of President Hassan Rouhani. Social movements were scarce after the government crushed public protests known as the Green Movement following the 2009 elections. After the decisive vote for Rouhani, a surge of hope in Iran has attracted activists back to the political arena. Iranian women, in particular, are seizing the opportunity.

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Parallels
9:26 am
Sat February 1, 2014

What Comes Next In Syria?

A Syrian man walks through debris following an alleged air strike by Syrian government forces on Friday in the northern city of Aleppo. Nearly 1,900 people have been killed in Syria since peace talks opened in Switzerland on Jan. 22, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Mohammed Al-Khatieb AFP/Getty Images

For eight days, the Syrian regime and an opposition delegation sat face-to-face, but were not on speaking terms in Room 16 of the Palais des Nations in the sprawling complex of United Nations headquarters in Geneva.

Round one demonstrated the bitter divide with no breakthrough on the core issues of a political transition or access to humanitarian aid.

So what comes next?

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Middle East
3:01 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

On Different Frequencies, Two Sides Of Syrian Media Clash

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 5:56 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The meeting between Syrian government and opposition leaders also brings competing entourages to Geneva. Pro-government reporters and opposition journalists are covering the same events, often in the same room, and it's not pretty. They've sparred, traded insults and even thrown punches.

NPR's Deborah Amos reports on a media war that reflects the passions of the battlefield.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

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Middle East
3:25 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Surprise Invitation Lands Syrian Peace Talks In Hot Water

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 5:44 pm

The long-anticipated Syrian peace conference is again in turmoil. The U.N. secretary-general's surprise decision to invite Iran to attend the conference prompted a boycott threat from Syria's exiled opposition. At issue is the fact that Iran has not publicly committed to the framework for the conference or pledged to withdraw its troops and allied militias from Syria. Under pressure from the opposition groups and the U.S., the U.N. has since withdrawn its invitation to Iran.

Parallels
5:30 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Low Hopes, High Stakes For Syria Peace Conference In Geneva

In Istanbul on Saturday, Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba announces the opposition group will attend the upcoming peace conference in Geneva.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 12:00 pm

Can a meeting in Switzerland, known as Geneva-2, solve the crisis in Syria?

The expectations are low. The warring parties are reluctant. Some of the most important players, including powerful armed rebel groups, are not on the invitation list.

The superpower hosts, the U.S. and Russia, fully back the peace conference, set for Wednesday. They hope to kick-start a political process and end the armed conflict that has ravaged Syria and destabilized the region.

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Middle East
3:28 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Foreign Fighters Flood Both Sides In Syrian War

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 4:20 pm

When peace talks open in Switzerland, one common concern between the West and Syria is expected to be the threat of Islamist extremists and the rise of al-Qaida-linked militias. Thousands of Sunni militants from around the world have joined the rebel groups in Syria, but there are other groups of militant foreign fighters who support the Syrian regime. Iraqi Shiites are being recruited in the thousands to bolster Syria's armed forces. Recruiting billboards and social media help portray the fight as an existential battle between Sunnis and Muslims.

Middle East
3:29 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

As Rebels Fight Rebels, Grim Reports From A Syrian City

The flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, flutters on the dome of an Armenian Catholic Church in the northern rebel-held Syrian city of Raqqa on Sept. 28, 2013. At first, Syrian rebels and civilians welcomed the experienced Islamist fighters, and the groups fought together to take over the city from Syrian troops. Now, many Syrians fear and resent ISIS.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 8:29 pm

Reports from the Syrian city of Raqqa are dire. In the north-central provincial capital, "the atmosphere has gone from bad to worse," says one activist with a rare link to the Internet. He reports the city is "completely paralyzed," the hospital is abandoned, and there are bodies in the central square. There is no power or water for a city of more than half a million people. Even the critical bread ovens are shut.

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Parallels
2:47 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Syria's War Creates A Demand For Artificial Legs

A staff member at the clinic in southern Turkey works on a prosthetic leg that will be given to a victim of Syria's civil war.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 6:53 am

In a clinic in southern Turkey, Mohammed Ibrahim helps 23-year-old Syrian Mustapha Abu Bakr take his first steps since he lost his legs, holding on to a set of bars for balance.

"He can't express his feelings," Ibrahim says. "It's a new thing completely for him."

Ibrahim explains that patients who have lost a leg below the knee can walk out of the clinic without crutches after a day of practice. For double amputees like Abu Bakr, who was injured in Syria's civil war, the adjustment takes more time.

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Parallels
9:43 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Rebel Leader: Nuns Were Led To Safety, Not Seized, In Syria

Nuns from the Mar Takla convent in Maaloula, Syria.
YouTube

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 11:53 am

There are differing versions of what happened to the Greek Orthodox nuns of Maaloula, who left their convent north of Damascus earlier this month. Some say the nuns are being held hostage by Islamic radicals. Others say they were under missile assault by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad and were rescued by rebel fighters.

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Parallels
3:23 am
Sat December 7, 2013

With The Help Of Smugglers, Syrian Refugees Sneak Into Europe

Refugees warm their hands at a refugee camp in Harmanli, Bulgaria, on Nov. 27. More Syrians are turning up in Europe. Many are trying to get to northern Europe, believing that is the best place to start a new life.
Nikolay Doychinov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 7:57 pm

The 27-year-old Syrian, who once smuggled arms for Syrian rebels, is now waiting in Istanbul for a human smuggler to get him to Europe. He says his name is Mohammed. He does not offer a second name. He will go by air, he says, the safest route. He has paid a smuggler more than $8,000, and he's sure he will get to Austria.

In the past week, he connected seven friends with smugglers.

"I know that most of them made it," he says, with a tight smile. He is traveling light. Everything he owns is in a backpack.

"I am leaving Syria under a lot of pressure," he explains.

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Shots - Health News
4:44 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

As Polio Spreads In Syria, Politics Thwarts Vaccination Efforts

Syrian boys line up to get the polio vaccine at a refugee camp in Sidon, Lebanon, on Nov. 7. The Lebanese government plans to vaccinate all kids under age 5 for the virus, including Syrian refugees.
Mohammad Zaatari AP

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 7:31 am

The World Health Organization has declared a polio emergency in Syria.

After being free of the crippling disease for more than a decade, Syria recorded 10 confirmed cases of polio in October. Now the outbreak has grown to 17 confirmed cases, the WHO said last week. And the virus has spread to four cities, including a war-torn suburb near the capital of Damascus.

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