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
1:59 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Reversing Direction, Some Syrian Refugees Now Head Home

Refugees at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan try to squeeze on one of the buses heading back to Syria. Syrian refugees have been coming to Jordan for two years, but some are now starting to head home.
Peter Breslow NPR

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 12:36 pm

In the Jordanian desert, the chaos begins at sundown, when the wind whips up the desert sand and the buses arrive. For the past two years, Syrian refugees have been streaming into Jordan, and they now number an estimated half million.

But for the past month, more refugees have returned to Syria than entered Jordan, and hundreds are leaving daily from Zaatari, the U.N.'s largest refugee camp in Jordan.

"Four buses are going every day," says Kilian Kleinschmidt, who runs Zaatari. "Depending on how many people manage to storm the buses, it's probably 300 to 400 people."

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Middle East
7:24 am
Mon June 17, 2013

U.S. War Planes Participate In Exercises In Jordan

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 1:13 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Syria's Arab neighbors are increasingly being drawn into that country's conflict. Over the weekend, the Egyptian president cut all diplomatic ties with Syria and called for a no-fly zone to protect rebels there.

In Jordan - right next door to Syria - King Abdullah told graduates at the country's military academy that he would defend against any spillover from the fighting. That followed a Pentagon decision to base Patriot missiles and a squadron of F-16 fighter planes in the country.

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The Two-Way
5:18 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Top U.S. Official Meets With Rebels Inside Syria

Robert Ford, the State Department's point man on Syria policy, appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 11.
Michael Reynolds EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 5:34 pm

Ambassador Robert Ford, the State Department's point man on Syrian policy, crossed into northern Syria on Wednesday. The secret visit was confirmed by Syrian activists at the media office at the Bab al-Salama crossing on the Turkish frontier.

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Middle East
5:25 am
Mon May 6, 2013

Thousands Of Syrians Ride Buses To Refugee Camps

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 11:54 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

Syria has accused Israel of flagrantly violating international law after a series of airstrikes on targets near the Syrian capital over the weekend. Now, Israel has not officially accepted responsibility, but Israeli sources say the targets included Iranian-made missiles bound for Hezbollah fighters in neighboring Lebanon.

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The Salt
6:03 am
Sat May 4, 2013

As Syria Melts Down, Ice Cream Shop Sets Up In Jordan

Employees scoop ice cream, which is topped with pistachios, at Bakdash's opening in Amman, Jordan, this week. Bakdash has been a landmark in Damascus, Syria, since 1895. But the war there has made it hard to get supplies, so the owners have set up a new shop in Amman.
Nabih Bulos for NPR

Originally published on Sun May 5, 2013 1:15 am

Bakdash is a landmark in the Syrian capital, serving the Arab world's most famous ice cream since 1895. Manually churned with wooden paddles, loaded with milk, sugar and a generous coating of pistachios, Bakdash ice cream is memorable treat for any visitor to Damascus.

But, when a branch opened this week in Amman, Jordan, it was seen as another casualty of the Syrian war.

"It means there is no sense of security and safety in Damascus," says journalist Fahd al Kheytaan, "which forced the company to move some of its operation to Jordan."

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Middle East
4:18 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Sea Of Syrian Refugees Threatens To Overload Jordan

There are more than 100,000 Syrian refugees at the Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, near the Syrian border.
Mohammad Hannon AP

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 9:23 pm

Jordan's fastest-growing city lies in the middle of the desert, where the sand is so white that from a distance it looks like snow. There's little running water and not much electricity.

The name of this place? The Zaatari refugee camp, home to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees.

"This is a city — not one that anybody would want to create if they had a choice," says Caroline Gluck of Oxfam, one of the aid agencies working in the Zaatari camp. "It's certainly not urban planning at its best."

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Middle East
3:22 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

'It's Not Normal': Syrian War Transforms Lives

Razan Shalab Al-Sham, in bright blue, works for the Syrian Emergency Task Force. She helped provide uniforms for the new civil police force of Khirbet al-Joz in northern Syria.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 8:59 pm

In November, Razan Shalab Al-Sham, the daughter of a wealthy Syrian family, led the way to the Syrian farming village of Khirbet al-Joz to deliver an unusual kind of aid: police uniforms. A cold winter rain turned the frontier forest between southern Turkey and Syria into a muddy march up a mountain ridge along a smugglers' trail. She climbed the mountain to make the delivery herself.

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The Two-Way
12:36 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Syrian Opposition Poised To Vote On Interim Government

Demonstrators wave Syrian opposition flags during a protest in Istanbul against the government of Syria's President Bashar Assad, on March 15.
Osman Orsal Reuters /Landov

As Syria's revolt enters a third year, Syria's political opposition is meeting in Istanbul this week to choose a rebel government, despite opposition from the Obama administration.

Twelve candidates are in the running to lead the efforts, including an economist, a former agriculture minister and an IT specialist who is overseeing the Syrian National Coalition's aid operation on the Turkish border.

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Middle East
5:27 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Courts Become A Battleground For Secularists, Islamists In Syria

An Islamist rebel group in Aleppo called "the Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Supporting the Oppressed" reviews applications for aid on Feb. 25. In addition to handing out aid, the Islamist group says it is carrying out civilian administration in parts of Aleppo.
Hamid Khatib Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 6:49 pm

In rebel-held parts of Syria, a clash of ideologies is playing out. Powerful Islamist brigades are competing with pro-democracy civilians to shape Syria's future.

One battlefront is in the courts. In many areas in northern Syria, Islamists have set up religious courts that deliver rulings under Shariah, or Islamic law — a fundamental change in Syria's civil legal system.

This is evident on a recent day in a courtroom in the northern Syrian city of Azaz.

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Middle East
4:28 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Syrian Cyber-Rebel Wages War, One Hack At A Time

Ahmad "Harvester" Heidar is a computer software engineer whose work for the Syrian rebels includes sweeping the hard drives of detained anti-government activists, and trying to develop a robot that will help extract sniper victims in Syria. Turkish officials have given Heidar the green light to develop a prototype of his robot, which he calls Tina.
Jodi Hilton for NPR

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 8:27 pm

The Internet is a battleground in Syria, a place where President Bashar Assad's regime has mounted a sophisticated surveillance campaign that includes monitoring and arresting activists by tracking their Facebook pages.

The Syrian Electronic Army, an arm of the Syrian military, is in charge of the monitoring.

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The Two-Way
5:53 am
Sun March 10, 2013

In Ancient Aleppo, Plotting The Future

Syrians carry a large revolution flag and chant slogans during a protest in Aleppo, Syria, where young people and children sang songs against President Bashar Assad and the Syrian regime, Dec. 21, 2012.
Virginie Nguyen Hoang AP

A soft-spoken, clean-shaven, 31-year-old aid worker hopes to determine, in part, the future of Aleppo, Syria's largest city.

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Middle East
4:32 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Syrian Rebels: New U.S. Aid Not Helpful Without Weapons

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 6:30 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For American policy analysts, today's announcement of direct food aid and medical supplies to Syrian rebels is a significant shift. But a top commander in the forces fighting the Syrian regime says it's not nearly enough. NPR's Deborah Amos met that commander in northern Syria today.

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Middle East
3:42 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Syrian Rebels, Secular And Islamist, Both Claim The Future

Secular demonstrators, shown at a protest march this month in Aleppo, wave the old Syrian flag (green, white, black and red) that has become the symbol of their opposition movement.
Aamir Qureshi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 8:17 pm

Syria's Islamists have grown in influence as the war against President Bashar Assad's government grinds on. They have proved to be effective fighters, well armed and funded.

But as Islamists have grown stronger on the battlefield, more Syrians are asking about their political ideas and what that will mean for the future of the country.

A recent confrontation between liberal protesters and Islamists in the northwestern Syrian city of Saraqeb, which was caught on video, set off a heated online debate.

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Middle East
5:43 am
Thu February 21, 2013

A Visit To A Christian Community In Syria

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 6:47 am

Syria's minority Christians are caught in the middle of the country's 23-month conflict. Many members of one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East are fleeing Syria. Those who stay say they fear they will be targeted by Islamist militants — a growing force among rebels fighting President Assad's regime.

Middle East
9:01 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Newly Displaced Syrians Head For Turkish Border

Syrian people wait at a customs gate at the Turkey-Syria border near Reyhanli, Turkey, last week. Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing central Syria, heading to southern Turkey.
Gaia Anderson AP

A new surge of Syrian refugees is swamping humanitarian aid agencies in southern Turkey, where official refugee camps are full.

But the newcomers may be just the tip of the iceberg. In central Syria, civilians under attack by combat jets, tanks and artillery have fled towns and villages north of the city of Hama, and thousands are on the move.

"What they do now, they burn everything ahead of them. They bomb this area with everything they've got," says Hossan Hamadah, a Syrian-American from Texas.

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