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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4:31am

Sun January 22, 2012
Africa

In Morocco, Islamists Learn To Work With A King

Morocco's Islamist Justice and Development Party heads the country's new government, the result of snap elections called by the king. Here, Abdelilah Benkirane, the party's secretary general and now prime minister, arrives for an election rally in Sale on Nov. 1. The party now faces political as well as economic challenges.
Paul Schemm AP

An Islamist party heads Morocco's newly elected government, part of a wave of Islamist election victories following uprisings across North Africa.

But Morocco's case is a bit different. King Mohammed VI responded quickly to a pro-democracy movement last year with a new constitution and snap elections. The Justice and Development Party, known as the PJD, won the most votes in November. Now, Moroccans ask: How will this popular Islamist party govern?

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10:01pm

Thu January 19, 2012
Africa

For Moroccan Activists, The King's Reforms Fall Short

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 6:42 am

Morocco's King Mohammed VI introduced reforms after protests began last February. But activists say the measures didn't go far enough and they are still taking to the streets. Here, the king is shown in his palace in Rabat on June 17.
Azzouz Boukallouch AP

When a pro-democracy movement took to the streets of Morocco last February, King Mohammed VI, who has been on the throne for more than decade, responded swiftly.

Within weeks, the king had proposed a new constitution and snap elections. The Moroccan example of reforms without violence was hailed by some as a model.

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10:01pm

Sun January 8, 2012
The Arab Spring: One Year Later

Is The Arab Spring Good Or Bad For The U.S.?

Originally published on Mon January 9, 2012 7:09 am

The Arab uprisings have ousted or weakened some American allies. Elections in Tunisia and Egypt have shown the strength of Islamist political parties. And after the long, hard war in Iraq, the U.S. appears to have a diminished appetite for new, complicated undertakings in the region. In the last of our six-part series on the upheavals changing the Middle East, NPR's Deborah Amos looks at what it all means for America.

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12:51pm

Fri January 6, 2012
Africa

Rapper's Imprisonment Tests Moroccan Reforms

Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 8:18 pm

Moroccan rapper Mouad Belrhouate, shown here on an album cover, is commonly known as El-Haqed, or "the defiant one." He's been jailed for four months and is awaiting trial in Casablanca. His supporters say his case shows the limits of recent political changes introduced by King Mohammed VI.
Deborah Amos NPR

Morocco has been called one of the winners of the Arab Spring. The country's young king, Mohammed VI, offered a new constitution and early elections, taking the steam out of a protest movement that rose up last February.

But the arrest and trial of an artist who writes provocative rap songs show that there seem to be limits to the reforms.

The rap songs of 24-year-old Mouad Belrhouate are popular in Morocco, even more so after the four months he has spent in jail.

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10:01pm

Tue January 3, 2012
Middle East

Syrian Uprising Raises The Specter Of Sectarian War

Syria's embattled President Bashar Assad still has supporters, particularly among his fellow Alawites, a minority who believe they will suffer if Assad is ousted. Here, Assad supporters rally Tuesday in the capital, Damascus.
SANA handout EPA /Landov

For the past 10 months, Syrians have taken to the streets in large numbers to oppose a repressive regime that has not hesitated to use force. The United Nations estimates more than 5,000 Syrians have died, and it is far from clear how the uprising will play out. President Bashar Assad's regime blames the revolt on Islamist militants and casts the uprising as a threat to Syria's minorities, including Assad's fellow Alawites and the country's Christians.

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1:00pm

Mon January 2, 2012
Middle East

Qatar Emerges As Major Force In Arab World

The tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar has deep pockets and a big microphone in the form of its news network, Al Jazeera. In recent months, those assets have been used to propel the Arab Spring forward. Qatar has supported rebel movements in Libya and Syria, and is promoting a "Marshall Fund" for Oman, Morocco and Jordan. The country's emir has close, personal relationships with the emerging Islamist leaders from Casablanca to Cairo — and meanwhile provides a home to the largest U.S. military base outside the United States.

3:04pm

Thu December 29, 2011
Middle East

In Syria, Arab League Observers Caught In Crossfire

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 4:51 pm

In this frame grab from an amateur video posted on YouTube, members of the Arab League monitor violence in the Syrian city of Homs this week.
YouTube

1:00pm

Tue December 27, 2011
Middle East

Arab League Monitors Visit Besieged Syrian City

Arab League monitors visited the central city of Homs, an opposition stronghold, besieged and under bombardment by the Syrian army until the monitors showed up. Syrian army armor was withdrawn from the city streets ahead of the visit, but activists say they expect a resumption of the army offensive as soon as the monitors leave. They also complain that they have not been allowed to meet with the Arab League team.

3:07pm

Fri December 16, 2011
Middle East

Arab League Wavers On Sanctions Against Syria

Originally published on Sat December 17, 2011 9:54 am

Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al Arabi (far left) meets with foreign ministers of the Arab League in Cairo on Nov. 27. The group imposed tough sanctions against Syria at that meeting, but is now wavering when it comes to implementing them.
Khaled Elfiqi EPA/Landov

The Arab League has a reputation for being long on rhetoric and short on action. That's why it was so surprising when Arab ministers approved an unprecedented package of sanctions against Syria at the end of November.

But the unity that produced that vote is falling apart, and a meeting in Cairo to set the terms of the sanctions was suspended indefinitely.

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1:23pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Middle East

For Some Arab Revolutionaries, A Serbian Tutor

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 5:21 pm

Srdja Popovic, who runs the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies, speaks in Belgrade in February. He played a prominent role in ousting Serbia's dictator in 2000, and has worked with Arabs involved in uprisings in their countries during the past year.
Darko Vojinovic AP

Srdja Popovic, a lanky biologist from Belgrade, helped overthrow a dictator in Serbia a decade ago. Since then, he's been teaching others what he learned, and his proteges include a host of Arab activists who have played key roles in ousting Arab autocrats over the past year.

"This is a bad year for bad guys," Popovic says with a broad grin in a New York cafe.

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3:02pm

Fri December 2, 2011
Middle East

After Fleeing, Syrian Activists Regroup In Turkey

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, right, and Turkish President Abdullah Gul meet in Ankara, Turkey on Friday. Biden praised Turkey for putting pressure on neighboring Syria to stop its bloody crackdown of protesters.
Murat Cetinmuhurdar AP

In a matter of months, Turkey has gone from one of Syria's strongest allies to one of its sharpest critics as the uprising in Syria has been met with a harsh crackdown by President Bashar Assad.

Turkey has become a haven for Syrian refugees, a base for Syrian army defectors and a home for Syria's main political opposition group. And on Friday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was in Turkey for talks that included the deteriorating conditions in Syria.

On the streets of Istanbul, Akram Asaf, a 31-year-old lawyer who fled Syria, says he feels safe, but not yet free.

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3:03am

Wed November 2, 2011
Middle East

With Protests, Syrians Are Learning Politics

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 6:38 am

Anti-government protesters march in the village of Amouda, Syria on Sept. 30. For many Syrians, the protests mark the first time they have taken part in anything resembling politics.

Shaam News Network AP

Government opponents in Syria have not been able to dislodge President Bashar Assad, but they are doing something the country has rarely if ever seen: they are organizing by themselves, outside of government control.

The massive street protests, demanding the end of Assad's regime, have defined the revolt over the past eight months.

But other things are happening as well, far from public view. In one quiet office in Damascus, Ashraf Hamza, 28, is leading a group of men at a session on community organizing.

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10:01pm

Thu October 20, 2011
Middle East

Prominent Syrian Activist Flees, Reveals Identity

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 8:30 pm

At his home in Syria, activist Rami Jarrah, 28, spoke out under the alias Alexander Page. Fearing arrest, he recently fled to Egypt.

Courtesy of Rami Jarrah

The Syrian government has barred most international journalists from the country, restricting coverage since an uprising began last spring. In response, Syrian activists have played a crucial role in providing information to the wider world.

One of the most prominent is Alexander Page — an alias that a young Syrian used for his safety. He was often cited by international media outlets, including NPR.

But he recently fled Syria after his identity was compromised and he was in danger of arrest.

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2:06pm

Wed October 19, 2011
Middle East

In Syria, Can The President Outlast The Protesters?

Originally published on Wed October 19, 2011 6:40 pm

Syrian women stroll past posters of President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Monday. Assad has relied heavily on his security forces as he battles an uprising now in its eighth month.

Muzaffar Salman AP

Syria's President Bashar Assad has survived an uprising that's now in its eighth month, and he shows no signs of buckling. The president has relied on a massive security presence to limit protests at home, and has dismissed criticism and sanctions from abroad.

But is this strategy sustainable, or is Assad simply buying time?

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10:01pm

Thu October 13, 2011
Middle East

Syrians, Not The Regime, Feel The Sting Of Sanctions

Syrians walk in the Hamidiyah market, decorated with portraits of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Syrian flags, in Damascus, Syria, Oct. 5, 2011. The European Union has intensified economic sanctions against Syria, but the crackdown against anti-regime protesters is unlikely to stop, Syrians say.

Bassem Tellawi AP

Every Syrian is feeling the economic pain of a seven month uprising and western sanctions to end a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters.

But shopkeepers tell a different story along a street of open-air shops in the Midan neighborhood in central Damascus. A government escort accompanies an NPR reporter for interviews about the sensitive subject of tightening economic sanctions against Syria.

Hassan Shagharouri runs a sweets shop. When asked if prices are rising, he responds that the prices are the same and that everything is perfect.

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11:56am

Tue October 11, 2011
Middle East

Syria Keeps Pressure On Protesters, Ignores Critics

Originally published on Sun October 16, 2011 4:00 pm

Mourners surround the hearse carrying the coffin of Kurdish opposition leader Meshaal al-Tammo during his funeral last Sunday in Amuda, in northern Syria. Supporters blamed the Syrian government for his death.

Reuters HO/Landov

From the outset of the Syrian uprising last spring, Syria's president, Bashar Assad, offered promises of reform. Activists, meanwhile, documented abuses by his security forces, including video footage of shootings against unarmed protesters.

Now, the Assad government appears to be relying exclusively on brutal repression, giving free reign to the security services to crush the revolt, according to analysts inside and outside the country.

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10:01pm

Tue October 4, 2011
Middle East

Even In Lebanon, No Safe Haven For Syrian Dissidents

Lebanese and Syrian protesters demonstrate against the Syrian government in Beirut in August. Syrian defectors say they fear the Syrian regime will track them down, even in Lebanon.

Anwar Amro AFP/Getty Images

Syrian exiles, both defecting soldiers and civilian protesters, have slipped across the border into northern Lebanon seeking safety from the Syrian government and its relentless crackdown on opponents.

But even here, they can literally hear the shooting from across the border in the restive Syrian town of Homs, less than 20 miles away. They express fear that President Bashar Assad's forces will track them down in Lebanon. Those most at risk are army defectors who are hiding out in small Lebanese villages.

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2:19am

Wed September 28, 2011
Middle East

Syrian Leader Digs In For A Long Battle

Despite domestic and international pressure, Syrian President Bashar Assad has pursued an aggressive crackdown on protesters, and the outcome of the seven-month-old uprising is far from clear.
Muzaffar Salman AP

After seven months of protests in Syria, the international community has stepped up economic pressure, and some of Syria's traditional allies have turned into critics.

Yet President Bashar Assad presses on with a relentless and bloody crackdown, and his government seems to be operating on its own timeline when it comes to the uprisings that have already toppled several Arab regimes.

The events in Syria suggest it's time for a reassessment of the Arab spring, according to Vali Nasr, a former U.S. government adviser and Middle East scholar at Tufts University.

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12:10am

Sun September 25, 2011
Middle East

Pro-Assad 'Army' Wages Cyberwar In Syria

Supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad carry a giant flag with his image on it during a pro-regime protest in Damascus, Syria, in August. Pro-government forces are now taking their message to a new arena: cyberspace.
Muzaffar Salman AP

Struggling to put down a rebellion now in its seventh month, the Syrian government has turned the Internet into another battleground.

Sophisticated Web surveillance of the anti-government movement has led to arrests, while pro-government hackers use the Internet to attack activists and their cause. It appears to be part of a coordinated campaign by the embattled government.

Syria's leadership insists there is no uprising in the country. Syria's official news media reports that the unrest is a fabrication, part of an international plot.

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1:23pm

Mon September 19, 2011
Middle East

With Police Watching, Syrian Dissidents Meet

Originally published on Mon September 19, 2011 3:23 pm

More than 300 Syrian dissidents met near Damascus on Sunday, and afterward they held a news conference and called for more protests to oust President Bashar Assad's government. From left: Rajaa Nasser, Hussein Awdat, Hassan Abdul Azim, Saleh Mohammed and Samir Aita.
Louai Beshara AFP/Getty Images

It was an unprecedented gathering in Syria: The security police were monitoring, but they did not break up, a six-hour meeting of more than 300 dissidents at a farmhouse outside the capital Damascus.

Syria's traditional dissidents, men and women who have spent years in jail, have met before. For the first time, they sat together Sunday with young street organizers of the current unrest.

Samir Aita, an opposition figure who lives in Paris, attended the gathering and talked about the significance when he reached Beirut.

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