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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Religion
4:28 pm
Fri July 3, 2015

Syrian Christians Face New Threat From Rebel Alliance

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 4:43 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Parallels
7:53 am
Sat June 27, 2015

In Saudi Arabia, An Uphill Fight To Out-Shout The Extremists

Saudi actor Nasser al-Qasabi, at left, appears in a scene from his TV show Selfie, which satirizes ISIS. He's received death threats in reaction to the series, which airs on a Saudi-owned channel.
Via MBC

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 9:59 am

For years, Saudi Arabia seemed immune from the wars and chaos of the Middle East — but not anymore. The sectarian violence raging on its borders hit home in May, when militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State or ISIS launched two suicide attacks on mosques in Saudi's eastern province, targeting the country's minority Shiite population.

The kingdom was shaken by the attacks, which killed two dozen people — and prompted an unusually open debate about homegrown extremism.

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Parallels
9:28 am
Sun June 14, 2015

For Yemen's Ousted President, A Five-Star Exile With No End In Sight

Houthi supporters in Yemen's capital hold up at a defaced poster of the ousted president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, during a demonstration against air strikes by Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, who have been bombing Yemen since March, are hosting Hadi and other officials from the former government.
Khaled Abdullah Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Sun June 14, 2015 5:23 pm

When Houthi rebels stormed Yemen's capital in January, President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi was driven from power and placed under house arrest. He escaped and then fled by sea in March. Now, Hadi and his top ministers are comfortably ensconced in a five-star guest palace in Saudi Arabia's capital of Riyadh.

While the surrounding may be pleasant, the wait is wearing. Hadi and his aides still dream of a triumphant return home, though optimism is in short supply.

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Middle East
5:02 am
Thu June 11, 2015

Saudi Arabia's King Shakes Up Region With Assertive Foreign Policy

Originally published on Thu June 11, 2015 2:25 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Parallels
4:54 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

Saudi Women Can't Drive To Work; So They're Flocking To The Internet

Nouf al-Mazrou, with the red head scarf in the center, runs a barbeque catering business from her home in the Saudi capital Riyadh. She's shown here at a gathering of Saudi women who have launched businesses on Instagram. The event was held at a private girls school.
Deborah Amos / NPR

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 9:14 am

In a country where women are prohibited from driving themselves to work, technology is opening new avenues to the job market in Saudi Arabia.

Thousands of women use Instagram, the popular photo-sharing site, to launch businesses that sell goods and services, from cupcakes to sushi, in the desert kingdom.

At a recent convention of Instagram businesses, hundreds of women set up booths at a private girls school in the capital Riyadh to share success stories.

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Parallels
3:49 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Last Armenian Village In Turkey Keeps Silent About 1915 Slaughter

Armenian refugees on the deck of the French cruiser that rescued them in 1915 during the massacre of the Armenian populations in the Ottoman Empire. The photo does not specify precisely where the refugees were from. However, residents of Vakifli, the last remaining Armenian village in Turkey, were rescued by a French warship that year.
Photo 12 Photo12/UIG/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 11:45 am

A hundred years ago this week, the Ottoman Empire began the killings and forced marches of Armenians in what most historians call the first genocide of the 20th century.

Turkey staunchly denies that label, saying the deaths — estimated by historians at around 1.5 million — were part of widespread ethnic fighting in a civil war.

Regardless of the label used, the result was destruction of virtually every Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed after the war. What was left of the country transitioned into the modern-day Republic of Turkey.

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Parallels
3:42 am
Fri April 17, 2015

Turkish Educator Pledges $10M To Set Up Universities For Syrian Refugees

Syrian children listen to a teacher during a lesson in a temporary classroom in Suruc refugee camp on March 25 in Suruc, Turkey. The camp is the largest of its kind in Turkey with a population of about 35,000 Syrians who have fled the ongoing civil war in their country.
Carl Court Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 2:23 pm

Once a sleepy border town, Reyhanli, Turkey, is now bursting with Syrian refugees, many of them school-age. More than half a million Syrian refugee children are out of school, and the education crisis is fueling an epidemic of early marriage, child labor and bleak futures.

"I just finished the 12th grade and I don't know what to do," says Abdullah Mustapha, a refugee from the Syrian town of Hama.

In fluent English, he talks about his dreams of a college education, but he doesn't speak Turkish well enough to pass the language test required for state universities.

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Parallels
5:35 am
Sun April 5, 2015

Treating Saudi Arabian Jihadists With Art Therapy

Dr. Awad Al-Yami, an art therapist trained at the University of Pennsylvania, is a counselor at a Saudi Arabian center that seeks to rehabilitate convicted terrorists. The center claims a success rate of more than 80 percent, but acknowledges that some return to extremist groups like al-Qaida.
Deborah Amos/NPR

Originally published on Sun April 5, 2015 11:19 am

There are golf carts and palm trees and an Olympic-sized pool at the Mohammed Bin Naif Counseling and Care Center, a sprawling complex on the outskirts of Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh.

Once a holiday resort, the walled compound still looks like one — and not a rehabilitation center for convicted terrorists.

In the past year, the country has expanded counter-terrorism laws that make it illegal for Saudis to fight in Syria and Iraq. The kingdom has also expanded the terrorism rehab centers.

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Middle East
5:13 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Saudi Arabia, With U.S. Support, Joins Fight Against Rebels In Yemen

A Houthi Shiite fighter stands guard as people search for survivors under the rubble of houses destroyed by Saudi airstrikes near Sanaa airport in Yemen on Thursday.
Hani Mohammed AP

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 10:24 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Technology
5:08 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

App Helps Syrian Refugees Adapt To Life Away From Home

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 2:01 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Parallels
7:20 am
Sat March 21, 2015

Under ISIS, Life In Mosul Takes A Turn For The Bleak

Kurdish peshmerga fighters keep watch during the battle with Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Mosul on Jan. 21.
Azad Lashkari Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun March 22, 2015 2:37 pm

Thousands of Sunni Arabs from Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, escaped to Erbil at the end of the summer when the militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State first overran the city and imposed a draconian social code.

Among them is a man we'll call the professor — he, his wife and their children fled Mosul in August. He doesn't want his name published because his extended family still lives there under ISIS control.

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Parallels
7:28 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

In Tikrit Offensive, Local Sunnis, Shiite Militias Are Unlikely Allies

Shiite fighters and Sunni fighters, who have joined Shiite militia groups known collectively as Hashid Shaabi ("Popular Mobilization") to fight the Islamic State, gesture Tuesday next to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's palaces in the Iraqi town of Ouja, near Tikrit.
Thaier Al-Sudani Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 12:53 pm

The graying city mayor agrees to meet a few hours before he heads to the battlefront. He is haggard after living in exile since June, when the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, swept into his city — al-Sharqat, Iraq, a hour's drive north of Tikrit.

Ali Dodah al-Jabouri has a reason to fight: Islamic State militants killed his brother and 18 other relatives. But as part of a prominent Sunni Arab tribe, he is joining an unusual alliance with Iraqi Shiite militias backed and armed by Iran.

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Middle East
5:26 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Arab States And Iran's Nuclear Talks

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 7:50 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Parallels
3:11 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Via Satellite, Tracking The Plunder Of Middle East Cultural History

Dura Europos, a Roman walled city in eastern Syria, dates back to 330 B.C. The main gate is shown here in a photo from 2010. It's one of the many important archaeological sites militants of the self-styled Islamic State have ransacked and damaged.
EPA /Deir Ezz-Zour Antiquities Department/Landov

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 9:50 am

Southern Turkey, near the Syrian border, is the crossroads for an extensive smuggling operation of ancient artifacts. Those transactions are held in secret, often in towns along the border.

But high overheard, eyes are watching: satellites scanning heritage sites, sending alarming imagery to Washington, D.C.

From her office in the nation's capital, analyst Susan Wolfinbarger monitors the ransacking of these sites in Syria and Iraq on a large-screen computer.

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Parallels
4:16 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Saudi Girls Can Now Take Gym Class, But Not Everyone Is Happy

Members of a Saudi women's soccer team, Rana Al Khateeb (left) and captain Rawh Abdullah, practice at a secret location in the capital Riyadh in 2012. Saudi women have had only rare opportunities to play sports. The country sent women to the Olympics for the first time in 2012 and now girls will be allowed to take physical education classes at public schools.
Hassan Ammar AP

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 5:32 pm

When it comes to females and sports, Saudi Arabia is starting to change.

Saudi Arabia sent its first female competitors to the Olympics in 2012, after years of sending only men. The public schools, like many institutions, are segregated by gender, and only boys have been allowed to play sports. But girls will now be allowed to take part in their own sports and exercise programs, a move that is opposed by some hard-liners.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a new thing — and I really like it. I wish I was in school so I can have that," says Jowhara al-Theyeb.

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Parallels
4:59 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Saudi Arabia Ramps Up Training To Repel Homegrown Terrorists

These pop-up targets are part of an advanced drill, named "friend or foe," that tests shooter reaction times. Some targets have a camera, and others, like these pictured, have a gun. The shooter must decide within seconds whether to shoot.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 8:07 pm

Many Americans believe that Saudi Arabia has links to Islamist militants, but the Saudis say they are victims of terrorism, too.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State has recruited more than 2,000 young Saudi men, despite government programs to stop them.

Now, the Saudi government shares the fears of the U.S. and Europe: that these violent young men will come home and carry out attacks. There are signs that's already happening. As a result, the Saudis are ramping up training for counterterrorism missions.

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Parallels
3:58 am
Mon March 9, 2015

In Syria, Archaeologists Risk Their Lives To Protect Ancient Heritage

Syrian volunteers cover mosaics in the Ma'arra museum with a protective layer of glue, covered by cloth.
Ma'arra Museum Project/Safeguarding the Heritage of Syria and Iraq Project

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 5:42 pm

The race to protect Syria's heritage from the ravages of war and plunder has brought a new kind of warrior to the front lines.

These cultural rebels are armed with cameras and sandbags. They work in secret, sometimes in disguise, to outwit smugglers. They risk their lives to take on enemies that include the Syrian regime, Islamist militants and professional smugglers who loot for pay, sometimes using bulldozers.

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Middle East
5:06 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Saudi Women Still Can't Drive, But They Are Making It To Work

Saudi women, shown here at a cultural festival near the capital Riyadh on Sunday, still need the permission of male relatives to travel and even receive certain medical procedures, but a growing number are entering the workforce.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 5:40 pm

The sign on the door to the office of eTree, an online advertising agency in Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh, reads: "Girls Only."

The company's founder, Esra Assery, admits it's a little sexist, and we both laugh at the joke in male-dominated Saudi Arabia — the only country that prohibits women from driving a car.

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Parallels
4:16 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Saudis Grow Increasingly Critical Of The Campaign Against ISIS

Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki al-Faisal, shown in 2013 in Bahrain, says the 'pinpricks' against the Islamic State have not been effective. The former intelligence chief also says the campaign needs to be better coordinated.
Mohammed Al-Shaikh AFP/Getty

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 12:13 am

The strategy against the self-declared Islamic State was on display this week: In Saudi Arabia, there were two days of closed-door military meetings, and in Washington, a White House summit on combating extremism.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced that training programs for Syrian rebels begins next month. So far, so good, in public.

But privately, the Saudi view is that the air campaign against ISIS, now more than six months old, is not working.

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Parallels
2:21 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

For The Saudis, A Smooth Succession At A Difficult Moment

Saudi Arabia's King Salman, who assumed the throne on Friday, is shown at the G20 conference in Brisbane, Australia, on Nov. 15, 2014, when he was the crown prince. His succession went smoothly, but the new monarch faces a region in turmoil.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 6:37 pm

For the sixth time since Saudi Arabia's founder, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, died in 1953, one of his sons has ascended to the throne, and it took place Friday without a hitch.

When King Abdullah died early Friday at age 90, his half-brother, Salman, was named the new monarch within an hour. There's also a new crown prince, Muqrin, who is the youngest surviving son of Abdulaziz and a relative youngster at 69.

The new King Salman quickly sent a message of stability and continuity. But the death of a Saudi monarch has brought the problems facing the country into sharper focus.

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