Kelly McEvers

After many years in the Middle East, Kelly McEvers is back home and working as a national correspondent based at NPR West. She previously ran NPR's Beirut bureau, where she earned a George Foster Peabody award, an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia award, a Gracie award, and an Overseas Press Club mention for her 2012 coverage of the Syrian conflict. She recently made a radio documentary about being a war correspondent with renowned radio producer Jay Allison of Transom.org.

In 2011, she traveled undercover to follow Arab uprisings in places where brutal crackdowns followed the early euphoria of protests. She has been tear-gassed in Bahrain; she has spent a night in a tent city with a Yemeni woman who would later share the Nobel Peace Prize; and she spent weeks inside Syria with anti-government rebels known as the Free Syrian Army.

In Iraq, she covered the final withdrawal of U.S. troops and the political chaos that gripped the country afterward. Before arriving in Iraq in 2010, McEvers was one of the first Western correspondents to be based, full-time, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

In 2008 and 2009, McEvers was part of a team that produced the award-winning "Working" series for American Public Media's business and finance show, Marketplace. She profiled a war fixer in Beirut, a smuggler in Dubai, a sex-worker in Baku, a pirate in the Strait of Malacca and a marriage broker in Vietnam.

She previously covered the former Soviet Union and Southeast Asia as a freelancer for NPR and other outlets. She started her journalism career in 1997 at the Chicago Tribune, where she worked as a metro reporter and documented the lives of female gang members for the Sunday magazine.

Her writing also has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The Washington Monthly, Slate and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her work has aired on This American Life, The World, and the BBC. She's taught radio and journalism in the U.S. and abroad.

She lives with her family in California, where she's still very bad at surfing.

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1:00pm

Tue August 30, 2011
NPR Story

In Syria, Homs Emerges As Center Of Protest Movement

Now that Hama has been crushed and demoralized, Homs is emerging as the center of anti-government activity in Syria, as protesters have taken up arms to conduct targeted operations against security forces and the army.

1:00pm

Fri August 26, 2011
Middle East

For A Night, Experiencing A Syrian Activist's Fear

In an image taken by a citizen journalist and provided by Shaam News Network, protesters in the Syrian village of Maaret Harma in Edlib province march against the regime of President Bashar Assad, Aug. 26. The government has banned most foreign journalists in the country and is continuing a brutal crackdown on anti-government activists.
Shaam News AP

During a recent trip to Syria, I managed to sneak away from my minders one night and spend an evening with a man in the capital, Damascus, who's an IT engineer by day and an activist by night.

I was able to see up close that protesting in Syria is not just a matter of raising your fist. It's a matter of life and death.

Let's start this story with how I was able to meet the activist.

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10:01pm

Thu August 25, 2011
Middle East

Western Sanctions May Put Slow Squeeze On Syria

Syrian street vendors display their goods in downtown Damascus on Tuesday, Aug. 23. Syria's economy was hit hard initially by the anti-government uprising. It has bounced back, but now the U.S. is urging the E.U. to join in banning import of crude oil from Syria.
Joseph Eid AFP/Getty Images

The Syrian economy has so far weathered the mass protests and widespread violence that have rocked most every major city. But in a move that could increase the pressure, the European Union is considering a ban on imported Syrian oil, similar to sanctions the U.S. imposed earlier this month.

Western governments say the Syrian regime's harsh response to an anti-government uprising has demonstrated that it is not fit to lead.

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3:01pm

Mon August 22, 2011
Middle East

A Controlled Glimpse Of A Restive Syrian Town

Syrian soldiers shout slogans in support of President Bashar Assad Aug. 10 as they withdraw from the city of Hama after a 10-day military operation to quell pro-democracy protests. This photo was taken during a government-guided tour.
AFP/Getty Images

NPR's Kelly McEvers is in Syria on a tour organized by a youth group aligned with the government of President Bashar Assad. Most foreign journalists are barred from entering the country otherwise. The tour's theme is "Syria Is Fine." Most of the reporters are from countries that have a history of supporting the Syrian regime — Russia and Iran among them. McEvers is the only American reporter in the group, which also includes some European journalists.

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2:46pm

Fri August 19, 2011
Middle East

Syria's Crackdown Provokes Sharp Debate

In a photo taken during a guided government tour, Syrian soldiers raise their weapons while holding a picture of President Bashar Assad as they leave the eastern city of Deir al-Zour on Aug. 16, following a 10-day military operation.
- AFP/Getty Images

Over the past five months, the Syrian military has repeatedly used tanks and heavy weaponry on cities and towns that are centers of protest.

As has been the case most every Friday since March, demonstrators turned out in huge numbers after the midday prayers, and there was more violence. Activists said that Syrian security forces fired at protesters across the country, reportedly killing at least 20.

Assessing whether this Syrian strategy is working depends on who you ask — and what version of the military crackdown in Syria you accept.

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10:01pm

Thu August 18, 2011
Middle East

Activist: It's Time For Syrian Opposition To Unify

Syrian President Bashar Assad addresses a meeting of his Baath Party in Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday. President Obama called on Assad to step down, though it's not clear who would replace Assad if he quit or was ousted.
SANA AP

President Obama has now called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to quit. But if he did, or if he is toppled, who would replace Assad?

There's no clear answer. Assad and his late father, Hafez Assad, have ruled Syria for four decades and have not tolerated anything that resembles a genuine opposition inside the country's borders.

"There is no opposition in Syria. There are opposition groups," said Lebanon's Wissam Tarif, who has been a prominent campaigner for democracy and human rights in the Middle East.

Divided Opposition

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2:04pm

Wed August 17, 2011
Middle East

In Syrian Conflict, Tactics Grow Increasingly Brutal

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 7:40 pm

This screen grab, taken from an amateur YouTube video, shows a crowd beating a man in the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zour. This video cannot be independently verified.
YouTube

Syrian tanks and gunships are attacking neighborhoods in towns and cities around the country that have been hotbeds of anti-government protest, as the government pushes ahead with what's being called a Ramadan offensive.

Activists say the latest, most grisly trend is to detain protesters, torture them to death, then release their bodies for all to see. Activists say of the 70 deaths in detention they've documented so far, nearly 40 have been in the central city of Homs.

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4:36am

Sat August 13, 2011
Middle East

In Yemen's South, Islamists Gain Ground

Yemenis walk past Saint Anthony Church in the southern city of Aden in 2010. Two months ago, tens of thousands of residents fled to Aden from their homes in Zinjibar after militants stormed the town. The displaced persons are now camped out in schools in Aden.
KARIM SAHIB AFP/Getty Images

The growing turmoil in Yemen is on display in the southern city of Aden, where tens of thousands of people have sought shelter after fleeing a nearby town that has been taken over by Islamist fighters.

The trouble erupted less than an hour's drive east of Aden, in the town of Zinjibar, about two months ago. Militants rumored to be affiliated with al-Qaida stormed the town, captured government buildings and looted the central bank. Government forces responded with airstrikes.

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3:03pm

Fri August 12, 2011
Middle East

Syria's Deadly Crackdown On Protesters Continues

Defying growing international condemnation, Syrian security forces continue their bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters across the country. A U.S.-based human rights group says injured protesters are afraid to seek treatment in government-run hospitals, for fear of being detained and beaten.

4:38am

Wed August 10, 2011
World

Yemen Tribesmen Protect Anti-Government Protesters

The Yemeni city of Taiz was the first to see mass sit-ins by protesters opposed to the country's president. Since security forces shot and killed dozens of protesters in May, tribesmen have been protecting demonstrators, and have regularly clashed with soldiers. It's a formula that's being repeated around Yemen, and one that many believe could push the country into civil war.

5:33am

Sat August 6, 2011
Middle East

Doctors Without Borders Targeted In Bahrain

Tens of thousands of Bahrainis participate in an anti-government march on July 29 in Saar, Bahrain. The protest took place a day after authorities raided and shut down the local office of an international medical aid group, highlighting the way the government crackdown has included medical workers who have treated injured protesters.
Hasan Jamali AP

In Bahrain, the local office of the international medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres has been raided, its local driver has been arrested, and the operation has been shut down.

The government has largely suppressed a mass protest movement, and the security forces in Bahrain have carried out a crackdown on those who continue to demonstrate against the country's rulers.

MSF has been aiding injured protesters who were too afraid to go to the hospital, for fear they'd be arrested.

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2:00am

Thu August 4, 2011
Middle East

War Or Compromise: What's Next For Yemen?

After months of massive anti-government protests and increasing bouts of violence involving a dizzying array of combatants, Yemen seems on the brink of total collapse and all-out war. But some in the Arabian country are still holding out hope for a negotiated solution, including the departure of longtime leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

2:27am

Fri July 29, 2011
Middle East

Bahrain Sets Up Panel To Investigate Unrest

Tents burn on March 16 as Bahraini security troops raid the site of a pro-democracy sit-in at Pearl Square, in the capital, Manama.
Joseph Eid AFP/Getty Images

The government of Bahrain has invited a renowned international legal scholar to investigate what went on during mass protests in February and March, and the brutal crackdown on the largely Shiite opposition that ensued. More than 30 people died, hundreds were detained and beaten, and thousands were fired from their jobs.

The commission is headed by Cherif Bassiouni, an Egyptian-born legal expert who has investigated war crimes and human rights violations in the Balkans, Rwanda, Afghanistan and, most recently, Libya.

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