Alice Fordham

Alice Fordham is an NPR International Correspondent based in Beirut, Lebanon.

In this role, she reports on Lebanon, Syria and many of the countries throughout the Middle East.

Before joining NPR in 2014, Fordham covered the Middle East for five years, reporting for The Washington Post, the Economist, The Times and other publications. She has worked in wars and political turmoil but also amid beauty, resilience and fun.

In 2011, Fordham was a Stern Fellow at the Washington Post. That same year she won the Next Century Foundation's Breakaway award, in part for an investigation into Iraqi prisons.

Fordham graduated from Cambridge University with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics.

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11:47am

Tue December 16, 2014
Parallels

Amid Strains, Syrian Refugees Are Facing Curfews In Lebanon

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 12:46 pm

A Syrian refugee child carries water in the Fayda Camp, some 25 miles east of Beirut, Lebanon, on March 10.
Jerome Delay AP

In Lebanon β€” a fragile little country of just 4 million people β€” there are about 1 million refugees from Syria. Many have been here three years, and their welcome is starting to wear thin.

Some towns and villages have imposed a curfew on refugees – enforced by local groups of volunteers. But in a country that experienced a brutal civil war, some are concerned about the return of armed civilian groups.

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3:26am

Tue December 16, 2014
Middle East

Contestant From War-Torn Syria Wins 'Arab Idol'

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 4:09 pm

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

3:19am

Sat December 13, 2014
Parallels

Syrian Women Displaced By War Make Tragedy Of 'Antigone' Their Own

Originally published on Sat December 13, 2014 12:21 pm

Mona, 28, narrates during a rehearsal of Antigone. "I feel that Antigone resembles me a lot," says the former resident of Damascus and mother of two.
Dalia Khamissy for NPR

Barefoot in a yoga studio in Lebanon's capital Beirut, a couple dozen actresses raise voices and stretch bodies that had grown used to being quiet and still.

"Go on," they cry as a clapping exercise speeds up, and they fill the room with whoops and uninhibited yells.

But these women aren't professional actresses. In fact, they're refugees from Syria, and this production of the Greek tragedy Antigone is a project designed to help them deal with their trauma.

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3:40am

Sun November 30, 2014
Parallels

With Shopping, Holy Sites, Najaf Offers Respite From Iraq's Violence

Originally published on Sun November 30, 2014 10:44 am

An Iranian national shops at a popular market in the holy Iraqi Shiite city of Najaf. Recently, the city β€” where millions of international pilgrims visit every year β€” has been spared the worst of Iraq's violence.
Haidar Hamdani AFP/Getty Images

The holy Iraqi city of Najaf has a brand-new and appropriately holy shopping center: the Najaf City Mall.

Under banners with Muslim prayers, children rampage through an adventure playground, while conservative women in long black robes browse for cute outfits to wear when they're home with family.

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1:28pm

Tue November 25, 2014
Parallels

Amid Violence, Iraq Fractures Again Along Religious Lines

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 5:06 pm

An Iraqi child, whose family fled from Islamic State violence in the northern city of Mosul, stands outside a tent that serves as a school in the southern city of Najaf on Sunday. Some 2 million Iraqis have been driven from their homes by fighting this year.
Alaa Al-Marjani Reuters/Landov

The shrine of Imam Ali in the Iraqi city of Najaf is a vast gold-domed edifice, where Shiite Muslims from all over the world gather to pray.

But just a few minutes drive away, are travelers of a different, shabbier kind. A long row of cinder block and sheet metal buildings is draped in bright flags with religious slogans. Usually, these are for pilgrims to sleep in. But right now, they're spilling over with displaced Iraqi families.

"It's tough for the children," says Zaira Raqib, a mother of four of them. "We know we're displaced, but they don't understand."

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1:52am

Thu November 20, 2014
Parallels

Despite A Massacre By ISIS, An Iraqi Tribe Vows To Fight Back

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 7:12 am

Sunni tribesmen train on the outskirts of Ramadi, Iraq, on Nov. 16. Legislation authorizing a force of Sunni fighters drawn from Anbar province itself β€” modeled on the U.S. National Guard β€” has yet to be passed.
Ali al-Mashhadani Reuters/Landov

The massacre of the Albu Nimr tribe came after they had fought against the extremists of the so-called Islamic State for weeks. In Iraq's vast western province of Anbar, the tribesmen had been driven from their stronghold in the city of Hit in early October.

They clung on to one last outpost on the outskirts of the city for nearly two more weeks. The Albu Nimr are accustomed to fighting. They say they participated in two insurrections against Saddam Hussein and boast of their ancestors' roles in pushing out British colonial rule.

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1:27pm

Wed November 12, 2014
Parallels

Who's That Lebanese Man With A Beard: Hipster Or Jihadi?

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 12:03 pm

Mazen Hariz, a bartender and business student in east Beirut, says it took him seven months to grow his beard.
Tim Fitzsimons for NPR

Mazen Hariz is well-groomed. A bartender and business student, he has fine features, limpid dark eyes and a long, shiny beard topped with a twirling mustache.

He tends to his appearance meticulously.

"My beard is like my girlfriend," he says during a cigarette break from a shift at the Kayan bar in east Beirut.

It took seven months to grow, and needs 30 minutes of attention every morning. First, hot water, then shampoo, conditioner, blowout and then sometimes straighteners. But not too often because that's not good for the beard.

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3:57pm

Tue November 4, 2014
Iraq

We Are Not Slaughterers: An Iraqi Village Rejects Islamic Militants

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 9:38 am

Citizens of Dhuluiyah, Iraq, must take boats to get in an out, since one of the town's two bridges was blown up by the Islamic State and the other was commandeered by tribesmen defending them.
Ahmad Al-Rubaye AFP/Getty Images

The only way for civilians to get to the town of Dhuluiya is by boat across the river Tigris, since the so-called Islamic State blew up the main bridge here and tribesmen battling them commandeered the other.

Steering through long reeds, we pull into a little dirt harbor. Here, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, is the home of a branch of the Jubbour tribe. They're a big Sunni group in this agricultural area and they want to tell me how they've halted the advance of the Islamic State.

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2:39am

Tue October 28, 2014
Parallels

Facing The Islamic State Threat, Kurdish Fighters Unite

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 11:17 am

Three female members of Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and an Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighter stand near the front line in Makhmur, in northern Iraq, on Aug. 9. The Turkish and Iraqi Kurds have been fighting together against the Islamic State.
Safin Hamed AFP/Getty Images

At a checkpoint outside the northern Iraq town of Makhmur, I saw something I'd never seen before in Iraq.

Two men were checking cars. One was young and wearing a sand-colored uniform of the official Iraqi Kurdish forces, called the peshmerga. The other was older, grizzled and dressed in an olive-green, traditional Kurdish overall, and he's with Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"We're happy to be working together," said the older man, Hajji Hussein Abdulrahman.

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2:53am

Fri October 24, 2014
Parallels

Iraq's Abu Ghraib Is Back In The News, Now As A Front-Line Town

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 8:23 am

Iraqi policemen patrol Abu Ghraib, 25 miles west of Baghdad, in June. Islamic State militants have captured many cities and town in western Iraq this year. The government still controls Abu Ghraib, but the militants are nearby and local tribes are also restive.
Karim Kadim AP

To get to Abu Ghraib, I hitch a ride with an Iraqi military patrol. We start in Baghdad, where the convoy of battered Humvees weaves through heavy traffic. But as we head out west of the capital, the roads empty and we hardly see any civilian cars.

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1:16pm

Tue October 21, 2014
Parallels

Ambushes, Mines And Booby Traps: ISIS Militants Change Tack

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 5:01 am

Peshmerga look out from a front-line outpost β€” a few sandbags, soldiers, and grenades perched on the brow of a hill β€” to the eastern Iraqi town of Jalula. The Kurdish fighters are grappling with how to combat changing ISIS tactics.
Alice Fordham NPR

At a front-line outpost β€” a few sandbags, soldiers and grenades perched on the brow of a hill β€” the Iraqi Kurdish soldiers known as Peshmerga are looking out toward the eastern Iraqi town of Jalula, maybe three miles away.

A few months ago, the so-called Islamic State seized Jalula. The Peshmerga took it back, but now the militants have retaken it. The soldiers catch sight of three vehicles belonging to the Islamic State rolling toward the outpost.

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2:35am

Tue October 21, 2014
Parallels

Kurds Leave Life In Europe To Fight ISIS In Their Iraqi Homeland

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 7:33 am

Aza Betwata (left) and his brother Mirwan (center) left Holland to join the Kurdish peshmerga fighting against ISIS militants in northern Iraq. Though the brothers come from a family of fighters, Aza had just two days of training β€” his brother must show him how to strip and clean his rifle.
Alice Fordham NPR

The men of the Betwata tribe gather to drink tea every morning in Irbil, Iraq, in an outdoor courtyard with curving pillars and climbing plants.

In northern Iraq, almost everyone is ethnically Kurdish, and most of them wear a traditional Kurdish baggy blue suit with a colored sash, and a black-and-white headdress. And they all talk about the war.

One of the men β€” Sarhad Betwata β€” is a general. The grizzled officer says he commands about 1,000 men and later this morning will head off from Irbil to the front lines against the Islamic State, close to the Syrian border.

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1:23am

Thu October 2, 2014
Cities Project

Ghosts Of The Past Still Echo In Beirut's Fragmented Neighborhoods

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 1:26 pm

Lebanon's parliament sits in Beirut's rebuilt Nejmeh Square, near the center of the city. Unlike many of Beirut's neighborhoods, the square is often mostly empty.
Tim Fitzsimons NPR

The heart of downtown Beirut is an elegant area, fringed with expensive buildings. But on a beautiful sunny day, you may not find anyone there β€” there's no cafe, no park, no place for people to hang out.

Even though the Lebanese capital is a bustling and even glamorous place, the heart of Beirut is empty.

That's because the ghosts of this otherwise vibrant city's past still play out in Beirut's neighborhoods. Decades after Lebanon's civil war in the 1980s, those divides still carve up the city and help determine who lives where and who interacts with whom.

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2:43pm

Mon September 15, 2014
Parallels

Iraq's Artists Defy Extremists With Bows, Brushes And A Low Profile

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 7:27 am

The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra performs in Baghdad. The concert was promoted by word of mouth to avoid being targeted by bombs.
Graham Smith NPR

It's a hot night in Baghdad, and the national theater is packed with people who are here to see the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra.

They're fanning themselves with programs that show conductor Karim Wasfi, a striking man with thick eyebrows and a pointed beard, playing the cello. Tonight, he'll be conducting for the first time in more than a year.

Iraq has been in the headlines lately, with extremists taking over parts of the country, American airstrikes, the militias and the politics.

But the country was once a sophisticated center for learning and the arts.

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4:29pm

Sun September 14, 2014
Middle East

Continued Killings Could Bolster Need For Action Against ISIS

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

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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7:52am

Sun September 14, 2014
Iraq

U.S. Call To Fight Militants Stirs Bitter Memories For Iraq's Sunnis

Originally published on Sun September 14, 2014 9:56 am

Iraqi troops in Anbar province in June. It's unclear whether Sunnis will join the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State.
AFP/Getty Images

If President Obama's plan to battle Islamic State militants by bringing Iraq's Sunnis on board to fight sounds oddly familiar, that's because it is.

When the U.S. faced a raging insurgency by Sunni militants β€” then called al-Qaida in Iraq β€” seven years ago, it recruited local Sunni leaders and paid their tribesmen to fight against those militants.

The effort, dubbed the Awakening, quieted the threat β€” for a while. But the local leaders who led the tribesmen back then say that this time, the U.S. might have trouble convincing Sunnis to rejoin the fight.

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2:39pm

Thu September 11, 2014
World

Obama's ISIS Plan A 'Sunni Awakening: Part Two'

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 6:54 pm

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

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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8:28am

Sat September 6, 2014
Parallels

Fears Of Sectarian Violence Grow In Baghdad

Originally published on Sat September 6, 2014 1:04 pm

A car bomb exploded on Saadoun street in Baghdad on Thursday, killing seven people in a mainly Shia area of Iraq's capital, Voice of America reported. Though violence in the city hasn't reached the levels of 2006, residents worry sectarian conflicts may rise again.
Hadi Mizban AP

The air in the Baghdad morgue is thick with the smell of death. There are perhaps two dozen corpses in black plastic bags lying around in the sweltering heat. One of them is burned and has its face exposed, white teeth stark against charred skin.

"The crisis began in June," says Zaid al Yousif, the director of the Medical Legal Center, which houses the morgue. "The number of victims in June increased, double to triple." Many of those bodies have marks of trauma, including blunt injuries, he says.

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2:45pm

Thu August 28, 2014
Middle East

Rebels Storm Key Border Crossing Between Syria And Israel

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 5:28 pm

The Syrian civil war has flared up in the south of the country, near the Israeli border. A group of Islamist fighters have now captured a border crossing between Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights, which has long been monitored by United Nations peacekeeping forces.

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

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6:02am

Sun August 17, 2014
Middle East

Another Front In Mideast Conflict: Fishing Rights In The Mediterranean

Originally published on Sun August 17, 2014 9:39 am

When boats come in to the Gaza city harbor, the fish are small and few. An Israeli blockade keeps Gazan boats within 3 nautical miles from shore, where there are few fish to catch.
Alice Fordham NPR

Down at the Gaza city harbor, a little after dawn, merchants wait with horses and carts and scales to weigh the morning's catch of fish.

But when they come in, the fish are small and few. One man scoops his catch up by the handful, tiny fish slipping through his fingers. Even the cats look hungry.

One of the merchants, Mohammad Belah, tells me that a few years ago, it wasn't like this.

"A fisherman used to bring 100 or 200 boxes in the past, but now if he's lucky he brings 10 or 20 boxes," he says.

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