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.

Pages

Parallels
5:39 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Syrian Babies Born To Refugees Face A Future In Limbo

Ayaman with his wife, Selma, and their 1-month-old daughter, Shana, who was born in Turkey. Syrian refugee parents who give birth in Turkey are finding it difficult to register their newborns, and many are stateless.
Jodi Hilton for NPR

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 12:05 pm

Thousands of Syrian infants born to refugee parents are now stateless. Their births are unregistered and will pose many difficult challenges in this long-term conflict.

The exact numbers are far from certain. A recent report by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, suggests that 75 percent of Syrians born in Lebanon since 2011 have not been properly registered. Many families don't have any identification documents, which were destroyed in the fighting or left behind in a panicked escape.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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:

Read more
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/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Read more
Iraq
4:12 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Iraqi Territory Lost To Insurgents May Be Tough To Retake

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 5:29 am

President Obama is sending 300 military advisers to Iraq to beef up intelligence efforts to try to counter insurgent activity in the northern part of the country.

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:

Read more
Iraq
3:15 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Gulf Neighbors Struggle To Deal With Militant Advance In Iraq

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 7:43 am

The takeover of much of Iraq — one of the hubs of the Middle East — by extremist militants has shaken the region. How do Iraq's neighbors see the conflict rippling throughout the area?

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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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."

Read more
Parallels
1:44 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Iranian Activist Says Her Release Is A Gesture, Not A New Era

Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh (shown here at her home in Tehran on Sept. 18, 2013, following her release from prison) was one of the last lawyers taking on human rights cases in Iran before her arrest in 2010.
Behrouz Mehri AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 5, 2014 8:34 pm

When Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent Iranian human rights lawyer, was released in September 2013 — along with 11 other high-profile political prisoners — many Iranians saw the move as opening a new era following the election of centrist President Hassan Rouhani.

He had promised to release political prisoners rounded up after the contested 2009 elections, when thousands of protesters, known as the Green Movement, were tried and jailed.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
Parallels
2:28 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

Read more
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.

Read more
Middle East
3:02 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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
Parallels
12:50 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

My (Brief) Detention By Iran's Morality Police

A woman adjusts her scarf after seeing the morality police in a cafe during a crackdown on "social corruption" in Iran's capital Tehran in 2008.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 8:24 am

On my third day in Tehran last week, I was detained by Iran's notorious "morals police." This volunteer corps, with a presence in nearly every city and town, polices infractions against Islamic values. These guardians patrol parks, recreation centers, shopping malls and cafes where young people gather.

My introduction to the morality squad began with shouts and threats and ended with fruit juice and a hug from a lady cop in a black chador that covered bleached blond hair and a snug red leather jacket.

Read more
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?

Read more
Middle East
4:32 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Is The U.S. Leaving A Leadership Void In The Middle East?

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 6:00 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. In this part of the program, we're going to address a question that keeps bubbling up in news stories and commentary from the Middle East. It's a question President Obama addressed indirectly in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: In a world of complex threats, our security, our leadership, depends on all elements of our power, including strong and principled diplomacy.

Read more
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)

Read more
Middle East
4:04 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

During Syrian Peace Talks, Rival Sides Wage A Media Battle

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 5:29 pm

Friday was the first day of negotiations at the Syrian peace conference. There were no direct talks, however. Instead, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi shuttled between government and opposition delegations in separate rooms.

Middle East
3:57 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Negotiations Begin At Syrian Peace Talks In Geneva

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 5:29 am

After the formal opening of the Syria peace conference in the Swiss resort of Montreux, government and opposition representatives begin negotiations Friday at United Nations headquarters in Geneva. International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is mediating the talks.

Pages