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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Parallels
9:04 am
Sat April 12, 2014

Iran's Culture Wars: Who's Winning These Days?

Members of the Iranian band Accolade perform in an unauthorized stage performance in the capital Tehran in January 2013. Those seeking greater social freedoms are often testing the limits in Iran.
Vahid Salemi AP

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 1:49 pm

In Iran, hardline critics are waging a campaign against President Hassan Rouhani to limit his campaign pledge of opening Iran to more social and cultural freedoms.

The "culture wars" are as old as the Islamic revolution that swept conservative clerics to power more than three decades ago. The latest chapter comes as Rouhani is negotiating a nuclear deal with six world powers. He has the backing of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to continue the nuclear discussions, but cultural hardliners are stepping up the domestic pressure.

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Parallels
4:32 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Iranians Begin To Feel The Heavy Burden Of Syria's War

A man looks at an unexploded barrel bomb that landed in a cemetery after being dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Thursday.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 4:04 pm

The Syrian civil war has been a major headache for President Obama. Critics at home and abroad, like Saudi Arabia, where the president was on Friday, have urged the U.S. to do more.

But the U.S. isn't the only country that's faced difficult choices over Syria. Iran and Syria have been close allies for decades. And in Iran, discussions about Syria are surprisingly frank, complex and demonstrate growing divisions over how to handle a costly war that has no end in sight.

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Parallels
4:36 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Viral Photo Of Syrian War Victims Comes To Times Square

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 6:20 pm

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Parallels
4:17 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

A Syrian Refugee Camp With Girl Scouts And A Safeway Store

An informal Girl Scout group at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan sings: "We want to learn and rise up to fulfill our dreams."
Nabih Bulos NPR

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 8:57 pm

On a sunny afternoon in the dusty, overcrowded Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, a group of Syrian girls recites a familiar pledge and hope to change their future. The youngsters promise to serve God and country, to help people at all times and live by the laws of the Girl Scouts.

The troop was organized by Hanna Vazquez, a volunteer with Mercy Corps, a U.S.-based humanitarian group.

"We are going to do the Girl Scout music badge," she says, as the girls gather around.

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Middle East
5:07 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Syrian Conflict Marches Into Fourth Year

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 11:59 am

The Syrian uprising started three years ago this week with protests and eventually a military crackdown that led to all-out civil war. More than 130,000 people have died.

Middle East
10:58 am
Sun March 16, 2014

Saudi Aid Boost To Syrian Rebels Puts Jordan At Risk

Syrian refugees have flooded the Zaatari refugee camp, near the Jordanian border with Syria.
Khalil Mazraawi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 11:55 am

For months, a military stalemate has defined the war in Syria. Now, a new strategy is emerging as Western allies and Gulf states step up support for rebels in southern Syria.

Along Jordan's northern border, Syrian rebels say they are unifying their fractious ranks, urged to unite by Western and Arab intelligence operatives who work in a covert command center in Jordan's capital.

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Parallels
3:27 am
Fri March 14, 2014

'Waiting For Godot' Strikes A Chord In Tehran

Just as characters in the play "Waiting for Godot" wait for someone named Godot, some believe that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is Iran's only politician who can end the country's waiting when it comes to resolving a nuclear deal.
Behrouz Mehri AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 11:27 am

At the National Theater in downtown Tehran, "Waiting for Godot" seems to have captured the mood of a country.

The Irish playwright, Samuel Beckett dramatized endless waiting in vain for someone named Godot. The play, translated into Farsi, got a standing ovation on the night I attended. The characters, in classic white suits, black top hats and black shoes, took endless bows as the audience whistled and clapped.

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Middle East
3:08 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Iranian Women Make A Push For Greater Opportunities

Iranian women, shown here in downtown Tehran, are among groups in the country pushing for social and economic change.
Ebrahim Noroozi AP

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 9:02 pm

Iran is starting to see a re-launch of activist groups following the election last year of President Hassan Rouhani. Social movements were scarce after the government crushed public protests known as the Green Movement following the 2009 elections. After the decisive vote for Rouhani, a surge of hope in Iran has attracted activists back to the political arena. Iranian women, in particular, are seizing the opportunity.

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Parallels
2:50 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

My (Brief) Detention By Iran's Morality Police

A woman adjusts her scarf after seeing the morality police in a cafe during a crackdown on "social corruption" in Iran's capital Tehran in 2008.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 10:24 am

On my third day in Tehran last week, I was detained by Iran's notorious "morals police." This volunteer corps, with a presence in nearly every city and town, polices infractions against Islamic values. These guardians patrol parks, recreation centers, shopping malls and cafes where young people gather.

My introduction to the morality squad began with shouts and threats and ended with fruit juice and a hug from a lady cop in a black chador that covered bleached blond hair and a snug red leather jacket.

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Parallels
11:26 am
Sat February 1, 2014

What Comes Next In Syria?

A Syrian man walks through debris following an alleged air strike by Syrian government forces on Friday in the northern city of Aleppo. Nearly 1,900 people have been killed in Syria since peace talks opened in Switzerland on Jan. 22, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Mohammed Al-Khatieb AFP/Getty Images

For eight days, the Syrian regime and an opposition delegation sat face-to-face, but were not on speaking terms in Room 16 of the Palais des Nations in the sprawling complex of United Nations headquarters in Geneva.

Round one demonstrated the bitter divide with no breakthrough on the core issues of a political transition or access to humanitarian aid.

So what comes next?

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Middle East
6:32 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Is The U.S. Leaving A Leadership Void In The Middle East?

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:00 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. In this part of the program, we're going to address a question that keeps bubbling up in news stories and commentary from the Middle East. It's a question President Obama addressed indirectly in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: In a world of complex threats, our security, our leadership, depends on all elements of our power, including strong and principled diplomacy.

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Middle East
5:17 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

On Different Frequencies, Two Sides Of Syrian Media Clash

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 7:56 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The meeting between Syrian government and opposition leaders also brings competing entourages to Geneva. Pro-government reporters and opposition journalists are covering the same events, often in the same room, and it's not pretty. They've sparred, traded insults and even thrown punches.

NPR's Deborah Amos reports on a media war that reflects the passions of the battlefield.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

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Middle East
4:56 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

During Syrian Peace Talks, Rival Sides Wage A Media Battle

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 7:29 pm

Friday was the first day of negotiations at the Syrian peace conference. There were no direct talks, however. Instead, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi shuttled between government and opposition delegations in separate rooms.

Middle East
5:57 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Negotiations Begin At Syrian Peace Talks In Geneva

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 7:29 am

After the formal opening of the Syria peace conference in the Swiss resort of Montreux, government and opposition representatives begin negotiations Friday at United Nations headquarters in Geneva. International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is mediating the talks.

Middle East
5:01 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Syrian Peace Talks Open With Bitterness And A Bit Of Hope

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 8:01 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The Syrian peace conference got off to a bitter start today with sharply opposing visions over a future role for Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. More than 40 countries sent delegations and many of their speeches struck similar themes decrying the vast human suffering in Syria and calling for a political solution to the crisis.

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Middle East
5:30 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Peace Conference On Syria Opens In Switzerland

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 8:12 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's go next to Switzerland, where the Syrian peace conference began this morning, with diplomats making public statements filled with accusations and acrimony - just how you'd want to start a peace conference. The civil war has gone on for almost three years now, killing well over 130,000 people and displacing some nine million others. Much of the fight hinges on whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should remain in power. Let's go now to NPR's Deborah Amos, who's covering the talks. Deborah's on the line. Hi, Deborah.

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Middle East
5:40 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Table's Laid And Guests Are Ready: Syria Peace Talks Set To Begin

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 7:55 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The Syrian peace conference begins tomorrow following a tumultuous 24 hours. Yesterday, at the last minute, the UN withdrew Iran's invitation after the Syrian opposition threatened to boycott the meeting. The aim of the talks: to end a three-year war that has claimed the lives of over 100,000 people.

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Middle East
5:37 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Surprise Invitation Lands Syrian Peace Talks In Hot Water

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 7:44 pm

The long-anticipated Syrian peace conference is again in turmoil. The U.N. secretary-general's surprise decision to invite Iran to attend the conference prompted a boycott threat from Syria's exiled opposition. At issue is the fact that Iran has not publicly committed to the framework for the conference or pledged to withdraw its troops and allied militias from Syria. Under pressure from the opposition groups and the U.S., the U.N. has since withdrawn its invitation to Iran.

Parallels
7:30 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Low Hopes, High Stakes For Syria Peace Conference In Geneva

In Istanbul on Saturday, Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba announces the opposition group will attend the upcoming peace conference in Geneva.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 2:00 pm

Can a meeting in Switzerland, known as Geneva-2, solve the crisis in Syria?

The expectations are low. The warring parties are reluctant. Some of the most important players, including powerful armed rebel groups, are not on the invitation list.

The superpower hosts, the U.S. and Russia, fully back the peace conference, set for Wednesday. They hope to kick-start a political process and end the armed conflict that has ravaged Syria and destabilized the region.

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Middle East
5:28 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Foreign Fighters Flood Both Sides In Syrian War

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 6:20 pm

When peace talks open in Switzerland, one common concern between the West and Syria is expected to be the threat of Islamist extremists and the rise of al-Qaida-linked militias. Thousands of Sunni militants from around the world have joined the rebel groups in Syria, but there are other groups of militant foreign fighters who support the Syrian regime. Iraqi Shiites are being recruited in the thousands to bolster Syria's armed forces. Recruiting billboards and social media help portray the fight as an existential battle between Sunnis and Muslims.

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