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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2:37pm

Wed May 28, 2014
Middle East

Force And Fear In The Air, As Syrian Refugees Go To Polls In Lebanon

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 2:02 pm

Syrian refugees in Lebanon are casting their votes ahead of Syria's presidential election next week. The election is seen as Bashar Assad's rigged bid for legitimacy — but many refugees believe that if they don't vote, they'll never be allowed back home.

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

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1:15pm

Tue May 27, 2014
Parallels

Smugglers Thrive On Syria's Chaos, Looting Cultural Treasures

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 7:53 am

A Syrian policeman patrols the ancient oasis city of Palmyra in March. Many Syrian antiquities have been looted and smuggled out of the country during the past three years of civil war.
Joseph Eid AFP/Getty Images

Smuggling is a way of life in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, just over the border from Syria. Driving along it, you see pale smugglers' trails snaking through mountain passes, and the guys who run touristy little antiques stores here say they can get you anything.

"Everything that have traditions and everything found in old houses," says Reda Ismail, who runs one of the many stores in the valley. Dealers say most things here are smuggled from Syria, and Ismail thinks these days it's more prevalent.

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1:28am

Tue May 27, 2014
Parallels

Beirut's Holiday Inn: Once Chic, Then Battered, Still Contested

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 3:13 pm

The Beirut Holiday Inn rises behind the man who built it, Abdal Mohsin Kattan, in 1975. The Holiday Inn was one of the leading hotels in Beirut at a time when it was the most glamorous city in the Middle East. But when the Lebanese civil war broke out in 1975, the hotel was fiercely contested by rival militias. Lebanese are still debating what to do with the building.
Thomas J. Abercrombie National Geographic/Getty Images

To check into Beirut's Holiday Inn these days, you need a permit from the army and the stamina to climb 26 flights of decaying stairs to the concrete carcass of a restaurant at the top that used to rotate.

This towering edifice may not look it today, but it was once the toast of Beirut, the most glamorous city in the Middle East before the 1975-'90 civil war turned the Lebanese capital into a byword for urban dystopia.

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1:11pm

Tue May 13, 2014
Parallels

Iraq Debates Law That Would Allow Men To Marry 9-Year-Old Girls

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 5:26 pm

An Iraqi schoolgirl passes a banner supporting a proposal that, among other things, would allow men to marry girls as young as 9. Opponents say it would mark a major setback for women and children. The Arabic on the banner reads: "The Jaafari Personal Status Law saves my rights and my dignity."
Karim Kadim AP

A stroll through the Baghdad Book Fair last month was a lesson in today's cultural norms in Iraq. The books — gold-embossed, neatly arrayed — were almost all religious, and most of the customers were men.

But in the middle of the white pavilion, a woman's voice rang out loud and strong. Fawzia al-Babakhan, a lawyer, delivered a blistering critique of a proposed law that would rewrite the rules for matters such as marriage and inheritance according to Shiite Islamic law.

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2:30pm

Wed May 7, 2014
World

Syrian Rebels Cede Stronghold After Over A Year Under Siege

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 7:59 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

There's a development today in Syria's civil war. Syrian rebels surrendered control of an important piece of ground, the city of Homs. That's been the heart of uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Hundreds of rebel fighters abandoned the city's central district. They left in rickety green buses, escorted by the United Nations. The rebels had been under siege and were running out of ammunition and food.

For more on the story, we're joined by NPR's Alice Fordham. She's in Beirut.

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11:33am

Wed May 7, 2014
The Two-Way

A Symbol Of Syria's Uprising, Homs Reverts To Assad's Control

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 4:43 am

Rebels leave in green buses from the old city of Homs.
GhassanNajjar Twitter

The beginning of the end of the two-year siege of Old Homs came as green buses full of fighters bounced down uneven streets Wednesday — a scene that was captured in a photo that was retweeted hundreds of times.

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3:16pm

Fri May 2, 2014
The Two-Way

With Truce, Syrian Regime On The Verge Of An Important Gain

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 11:34 am

Civilians and emergency personnel inspect the site of a car bomb explosion in the Abbasiyah neighborhood of Syria's central city of Homs on April 29.
AFP/Getty Images

The Syrian regime may be on the verge of an important gain in its civil war. Rebels say they have agreed to a conditional retreat from areas they hold in the city of Homs.

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2:08pm

Fri May 2, 2014
Middle East

An End In Sight For Siege Of Homs, As Syrian Rebels Plot Retreat

Originally published on Sat May 3, 2014 9:17 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The Syrian regime may be on the verge of an important advance in that country's civil war. Rebels said today that they've agreed to a conditional retreat from parts of the city of Homs. The forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have made a big push there lately.

NPR's Alice Fordham has the latest.

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6:59am

Wed April 30, 2014
Iraq

Amid Violence And Without U.S. Troops, Iraq Votes

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 8:59 am

A Kurdish Iraqi policeman in the northern Kurdish city of Erbil casts his ballot Monday in special voting ahead of Wednesday's election.
Safin Hamed AFP/Getty Images

Iraqis are voting for Parliament Wednesday for the first time since American soldiers withdrew more than two years ago. Without their support, and amid intense violence, the poll will test Iraq's fragile democracy to its limits.

The election is for the 328-seat Parliament and offers more than 9,000 candidates on party lists. It will probably end up with no party winning a majority and lead to weeks or months of coalition haggling to form a new government.

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2:37pm

Mon April 28, 2014
Iraq

On Cusp Of Third Term, Could Iraqi President Be A New Dictator?

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 4:18 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In Iraq, campaign posters cover the blast walls in Baghdad. Wednesday's national elections will be the first since U.S. troops withdrew in 2011. Change is a major campaign theme, but Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wants one thing to stay the same - him. He's running for a third term. Critics worry his strong-arm tactics resemble those used by Saddam Hussein. NPR's Alice Fordham was recently in Iraq and filed this report.

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12:16pm

Mon April 28, 2014
Parallels

How To Survive In Iraqi Politics

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 2:21 pm

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is seeking another four years in power. The country votes Wednesday amid increased violence between the security forces and opposition groups.
Sabah Arar AFP/Getty Images

Low to the dusty ground, by a reed-fringed river and a lush date palm orchard, is the farmhouse where Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, grew up.

The place is Junaja, one of hundreds of poor, Shiite Muslim farming towns in southern Iraq. Donkey carts jog alongside battered buses. No monument, no ostentation honors Maliki. The only new thing in town is the mosque.

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3:27am

Sat April 26, 2014
Parallels

Syria Gives Up Chemical Weapons ... But A War Rages On

Originally published on Sat April 26, 2014 9:30 am

A Syrian woman cries as she leaves a residential block in Aleppo, Syria, reportedly hit by an explosives-filled barrel dropped by a government forces helicopter on March 18.
Khaled Khatib AFP/Getty Images

Sunday is the deadline for Syrian President Bashar Assad to hand over his government's chemical weapons stockpile, and he will have surrendered the vast majority of his declared arsenal.

Some call this a triumph. Others say Assad used the deal to buy time for brutal offensives in the civil war raging through the country. Western governments are investigating reports of more chemical attacks, although Russian officials said Friday that Assad's forces did not use chemical weapons.

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2:15pm

Thu April 24, 2014
Middle East

Chemical Weapons Deadline May Be Met, But Results In Syria Are Mixed

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 5:17 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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11:45am

Mon April 21, 2014
Parallels

For Extremists In Syria, Extortion Brings Piles Of Cash From Iraq

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 5:26 pm

Rebel fighters inspect the wreckage of a Syrian army helicopter after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, allegedly destroyed it in March in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
Mohammed Al-Khatieb AFP/Getty Images

The renegade Islamist group known as ISIS now controls swaths of Syria and Iraq, and it's partly because the fighters are so rich. ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is known for having the biggest guns and paying the highest salaries.

While kidnapping, oil smuggling and donations from sympathizers have been well-known sources of money, the groups also run complex and brutal protection rackets, according to analysts.

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6:12am

Sat April 19, 2014
Middle East

Syrian Rebel Stronghold On The Verge Of Government Takeover

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 9:40 am

The Syrian city of Homs has been a rebel stronghold since the anti-government uprising began. But one rebel tells NPR that they're low on ammunition and medical gear.

1:33am

Fri April 18, 2014
Parallels

Sunni Discontent Fuels Growing Violence In Iraq's Anbar Province

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 9:10 am

Iraqi Sunni masked protesters burn tires to block the main highway to Jordan and Syria, outside Fallujah, Iraq, on Dec. 30. Violence has returned to Iraq's Anbar province, with discontented ordinary Sunnis joining forces with al-Qaida-linked militants battling the Iraqi government.
AP

Violence has reignited in western Iraq, with Islamist fighters taking over much of Anbar province three months ago. A renegade al-Qaida group has set up its headquarters in Fallujah — the city where hundreds of U.S. soldiers died a decade ago, trying to wrest it from insurgent control.

But this time, the enemy isn't the U.S. and it's not just extremists fighting. Ordinary Sunnis in Anbar, furious at what they call years of discrimination by the Shiite-dominated government, have joined the militants' battle against the Iraqi army.

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2:08pm

Thu April 10, 2014
Middle East

As Refugees Stream In, Lebanon Copes With Human Flood Tide

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 6:12 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

The United Nations has now registered more than a million refugees who have fled the war in Syria and gone to Lebanon. There are many more who have gone to other countries, but this massive flow of people creates a perilous situation for Syria's tiny next door neighbor. Lebanon's own security is always fragile and its resources, like water, are in short supply.

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1:43am

Tue March 11, 2014
Iraq

In Iraq, Anbar Faces Extremists Stronger Than Those U.S. Fought

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 8:28 am

Iraqi Shiite mourners carry the coffin of a soldier killed in clashes with anti-government fighters in Fallujah earlier this month. The government faces a months-long crisis in Anbar province, where it has lost the city of Fallujah as well as shifting parts of provincial capital Ramadi to anti-government militants.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

The extremists now committing a wave of attacks in Iraq's Anbar province are better trained, funded and equipped than the al-Qaida-linked groups American soldiers battled there, says Brett McGurk, one of the State Department's top officials for Iraq.

The militants, who have drawn strength amid the war in Syria over the border, have taken over parts of Anbar over the last three months.

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2:14pm

Wed March 5, 2014
Iraq

Splinters From Syria Reach Iraqi Kurds

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 6:42 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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7:54am

Sat February 15, 2014
Middle East

Beirut's Suburbs Take New Precautions As Syrian Unrest Expands

Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 8:45 pm

Many shops in this area of Beirut, Lebanon, known as the Dahiyeh, are now lined with sandbags to shield them against possible bombings.
Tim Fitzsimons for NPR

Riding the bus to Beirut's southern suburbs used to be a bumpy, crowded but fun experience. Everyone crammed in next to each other, bouncing around on the way to the area they call the Dahiyeh, the Arabic word for "suburb."

This sprawling southern district of Lebanon's capital is the place where the Shiite militant group Hezbollah enjoys its strongest support. But it is also a bustling, residential area. There are garages and vegetable stalls. And in the center of the neighborhood, there are juice bars and cafes.

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