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
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.

Middle East
2:47 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Syrian Peace Talks Open With Bitterness And A Bit Of Hope

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 6:01 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The Syrian peace conference got off to a bitter start today with sharply opposing visions over a future role for Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. More than 40 countries sent delegations and many of their speeches struck similar themes decrying the vast human suffering in Syria and calling for a political solution to the crisis.

Read more
Middle East
3:30 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Peace Conference On Syria Opens In Switzerland

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 6:12 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's go next to Switzerland, where the Syrian peace conference began this morning, with diplomats making public statements filled with accusations and acrimony - just how you'd want to start a peace conference. The civil war has gone on for almost three years now, killing well over 130,000 people and displacing some nine million others. Much of the fight hinges on whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should remain in power. Let's go now to NPR's Deborah Amos, who's covering the talks. Deborah's on the line. Hi, Deborah.

Read more
Middle East
3:40 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Table's Laid And Guests Are Ready: Syria Peace Talks Set To Begin

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 5:55 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The Syrian peace conference begins tomorrow following a tumultuous 24 hours. Yesterday, at the last minute, the UN withdrew Iran's invitation after the Syrian opposition threatened to boycott the meeting. The aim of the talks: to end a three-year war that has claimed the lives of over 100,000 people.

Read more
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.

Read more
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
3:22 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Battlefield In Northern Syria Evolves As Rebels Fight Rebels

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 1:07 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

The warring parties in Syria are one week away from a peace conference. Rebels have been fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Rebels have also been fighting rebels. Syria's political opposition is fractured over attending the peace conference at all, raising the prospect that Assad may come out on top.

Read more
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.

Read more
Parallels
2:50 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.

Read more
Middle East
2:35 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Escalating Violence In Syria Kills More Than 300 In 10 Days

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 6:02 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. The civil war in Syria is unrelenting. More than 300 people killed in the past 10 days, according to opposition activists in a government air assault around the city of Aleppo. We're going to get an update and also consider the diplomatic possibilities in this part of the program and we'll start with the latest on the fighting.

Read more
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.

Read more
Middle East
3:02 am
Thu December 19, 2013

11,420 Children Dead In Syria's Civil War, So Far

Children carry the body of a friend who was killed by shelling during heavy fighting between the Free Syrian Army and the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus earlier this year.
Momahed Dimashkia Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 11:51 am

As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year. Numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we're living in, right now. Over the next two weeks, you'll hear the stories behind these numbers, which range from zero to 1 trillion.

Read more
Middle East
3:46 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Fighting Escalates In Syria Ahead Of Peace Conference

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:34 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Activists in Syria say the most intense bombardment of that country's civil war is now in its fourth day. Government aircraft are dumping barrels packed with explosives on the city of Aleppo. Close to 200 people have been killed in the assault so far, according to the group Doctors Without Borders.

Read more
Middle East
3:35 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Radical Islamists In Northern Syria Spill Over Turkish Border

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 4:44 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

As we just heard, Turkish officials say they're clamping down on the radical Islamists who move through Turkey to join the rebellion in Syria. But in some frontier towns of southern Turkey, there's little sign of a crackdown.

NPR's Deborah Amos has that story.

Read more
Middle East
2:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

U.S. Suspends Aid To Some Syrian Rebels

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 4:26 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The U.S. and Britain have suspended non-lethal aid to Western-backed rebel groups in northern Syria.A spokesman at the U.S. embassy in Turkey confirmed deliveries were halted after an Islamist rebel group seized U.S.-provided equipment from warehouses near the Turkish border.

Read more
Television
6:18 am
Mon December 9, 2013

American Dazzles Judges On 'Arabs Got Talent'

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In the Arab world, TV watchers were buzzing this weekend about the finals of a popular contest show, "Arab's Got Talent." Runner up was the competition's dark horse contender, Jennifer Grout, a young American. She's not an Arab. She just loves Arabic music. And the presence of a Westerner in the running for this prize caused a bit of a stir. NPR's Deborah Amos was at the finale Saturday in Beirut and she sent this postcard.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
Middle East
2:32 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Syrian Regime, Opposition Groups To Start Peace Talks In January

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 4:05 pm

Newly announced talks on ending the conflict in Syria will bring together representatives of the Syrian government and opposition groups. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that the talks would convene on Jan. 22.

Middle East
2:15 am
Mon November 18, 2013

After Stalemate, Regime Troops Gain Against Syrian Rebels

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 4:09 am

The Syrian army has been gaining significant ground against the rebels around the capital and in the north city of Aleppo. Analysts say the regime has better allies, superior fire-power and in this sectarian battle, has finally integrated Shiite forces from Hezbollah into a formidable force that is effective against disunited rebels.

Middle East
4:46 am
Sat November 2, 2013

A Conquered Foe Returns To War-Torn Syria: Polio

A health worker administers polio vaccine as part of a UNICEF-supported campaign in Damascus. Aid agencies sometimes have to negotiate with rebel groups and work in dangerous situations to immunize vulnerable children.
Omar Sanadiki AP

Originally published on Sat November 2, 2013 6:11 pm

In a refugee camp in eastern Lebanon, aid workers put sandbags around plastic tents to keep winter rains from flooding dirt floors. For weeks now, the threat for Syrian refugees was the coming cold. Now refugees have a bigger fear: polio.

A childhood disease that causes paralysis and sometimes death, polio can spread rapidly, especially with the huge movement of people fleeing the war.

Some 4,000 Syrians still cross into neighboring countries every day, at least half of them children.

Read more
Middle East
2:48 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Disagreement On Syria Adds To Chill In U.S.-Saudi Relationship

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 4:01 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Im Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Secretary of State John Kerry heads to the Middle East this weekend. One key stop on his agenda, the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. There, Kerry will try to fix a public dispute over Syria, as NPR's Deborah Amos reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF CALL TO PRAYER)

Read more
Parallels
10:58 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Saudi Women Go For A Spin In Latest Challenge To Driving Ban

A woman drives a car in Saudi Arabia on Sunday. Saudi Arabia is the only country where women are barred from driving, but activists have launched a renewed protest and are urging women to drive on Saturday.
Faisal Al Nasser Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 5:39 pm

Activists in Saudi Arabia tried once, they tried again and now they're making a third challenge to the kingdom's long-standing ban on female drivers.

Some women have recently made short drives, posting videos on social media sites, and many more are planning to get behind the wheel on Saturday.

Read more
Parallels
9:25 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Syria's Grinding War Takes Toll On Children

Children play at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where more than 120,000 Syrian refugees live. Roughly two-thirds are kids, many of whom have been traumatized by the violence in their homeland.
Cassandra Nelson Mercy Corps

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 12:19 pm

Alexandra Chen, a specialist in childhood trauma, is on her way from the Lebanese capital, Beirut, to the southern town of Nabatiyeh, where she's running a workshop for teachers, child psychologists and sports coaches who are dealing with the Syrian children scarred by war in their homeland.

"All of the children have experienced trauma to varying degree," explains Chen, who works for Mercy Corps and is training a dozen new hires for her aid group.

Read more

Pages