Deborah Amos

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

After a presidential campaign that divided the country on immigration, some of the most fervent anti-refugee advocates say their views and agenda have now moved into the mainstream under President Donald Trump. His appointments, including top White House advisers and his nominee for attorney general, are powerful allies who support suspending the U.S. refugee resettlement program — the largest in the world — or an outright ban on accepting refugees from "terror-prone" countries.

When Almothana Alhamoud, a 31-year-old Syrian data analyst, arrived in Chicago two years ago after fleeing the Syrian war, he jumped at his first job offer, a nightshift cashier at a convenience store.

"When I came over here I just want to find anything to survive," he says over dinner with his family in Chicago. His parents and two sisters fled Damascus six months after he did. The family has applied for asylum in the U.S.

Osama, a Syrian refugee who resettled five months ago in Princeton, N.J., did not sleep on election night after listening to the results.

"The whole world is affected by American elections," he said during an English lesson with his wife, Ghada, the next morning at their dining room table. The family, which still has relatives in Syria, has asked that it be identified by first names only.

On a bright spring afternoon this May, Tom Charles drove to Newark International Airport to pick up a family of Syrian refugees. Charles is an attorney and a bank consultant, devoted to data and details, but he had scant information on the family that would become part of his life for the next year.

He was also sure the Syrian family knew nothing about his team from Nassau Presbyterian Church, who would drive them from the airport to a donated house in Princeton, N.J.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Obama administration is on track to make its goal of admitting and resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees before the end of September, despite concerns that Islamic militants could enter with them.

"The current pace of arrivals will continue thru the end of this fiscal year so we may exceed 10,000," said Anne Richard, assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration in a conference call with reporters on Friday. "For next year, we will continue to welcome large numbers of Syrians."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

CORY TURNER, HOST:

The State Department has approved a $1.29 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, which includes as many as 13,000 precision guided weapons or smart bombs. The sale comes as Human Rights Watch charges that Saudi airstrikes in Yemen "have indiscriminately killed and injured civilians."

It's election season in Saudi Arabia, and for the first time, women can vote and campaign for seats on local municipal councils. More than 900 women have put themselves forward as candidates. The ballot is next week, in a small and limited step towards democracy.

At a political meeting for women in Riyadh, professors, writers and activists gather to talk about the campaign. There are jugs of strong coffee and a snack table. Smartphones are held close.

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

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Middle East has one of the world's fastest growing communities of online video gamers. With a majority of the population younger than 25, demographics drive the market, which was worth an estimated $1.6 billion in 2014. The region's largest market is in Saudi Arabia — where gamers play a lot and spend a lot, say regional game developers.

Syrian medical student Hazem Halabi has become an expert on chlorine as a weapon of war. He made his first investigation in April 2014, after an alleged attack on the village of Kafr Zeta in northern Syria.

Villagers reported waking up before dawn to the buzz of helicopters and an overpowering smell of bleach. A video recorded at a local clinic shows doctors struggling to treat panicked victims struggling for breath.

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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.

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

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.

The United Arab Emirates has been building its military strength for decades, but in 2014 it came out in the open as an ambitious regional power — and one that's openly allied with the United States.

The tiny country, perched on a peninsula in the Persian Gulf, has a reputation for flashy displays — usually of wealth and commerce from shopping hub Dubai. But lately it has taken to showing off its military strength.

Alarmed over rising threats in the Middle East and North Africa, the Gulf Cooperation Council is set to launch an unprecedented joint military command, according to regional officials and military analysts.

"At the moment, we are witnessing a new spirit," says Abdulaziz Sager, head of the Gulf Research Center, a think tank that focuses on the GCC, a six-member group of Arab monarchies.

The stabbing death of an American schoolteacher in a bathroom at an upscale mall in Abu Dhabi this week has shocked the United Arab Emirates, citizens and international residents alike. Violent crime is rare in the Emirates, a place where glitzy shopping centers are the hub of social life.

The Kurds are involved in several Middle East dramas at the moment. Yet they live in multiple countries across the region and are playing different roles in different places.

In Iraq, Kurdish fighters are working closely with the U.S. to battle the Islamic State.

In Syria, the Kurds are also fighting the Islamic State, but until U.S. air drops this week, the U.S. had been reluctant to work directly with the Syrian Kurds.

Then there are the Turkish Kurds, who have been seeking to join the battle, but have been blocked from doing so by Turkey.

The Syrian smuggler agrees to meet at an outdoor cafe in Kilis, a town on the edge of Syria-Turkey frontier. As waiters deliver glasses of hot, sweet tea and Turks play dominoes at nearby tables, he talks about his role in the "Jihadi Highway" and why he finally decided to quit.

The smuggler, in his mid-20s, is open about every aspect of the lucrative enterprise, except for revealing his name. He is well-known to the militants of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, who paid him well for his skills, and who certainly would kill him for speaking to a journalist.

Pages