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
4:20 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 11:37 am

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
4:28 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 9:53 am

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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Parallels
12:11 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 6:50 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
1:16 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 Tue March 10, 2015 11:19 am

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
1:39 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 5:07 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
12:58 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 2:42 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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Parallels
1:16 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 Thu February 19, 2015 9:13 pm

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
11:21 am
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 3:37 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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Parallels
11:45 am
Tue January 13, 2015

When Islamic Radicals Turn Moderate

Militants of the Islamic State stand with a captured Iraqi army Humvee outside Baiji oil refinery, north of Baghdad, in June 2014. While there is increased radicalization in many parts of the Arab world, there are also groups and individuals working to deradicalize young Muslim men.
AP

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 7:53 am

After last week's Paris shootings that targeted an irreverent political magazine and Jews in a kosher grocery store, there's been a flood of stories about the dangers of Muslim radicalization and how it happens.

What about people who go the other way, from extremist to moderate? These people exist; the U-turn happens.

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Middle East
2:06 am
Mon December 29, 2014

United Arab Emirates Shows Off Its Military Might

Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri, the first Emirati female fighter pilot, flew in the first UAE airstrikes in the American-led campaign against ISIS.
AP

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 12:30 pm

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.

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Parallels
3:34 am
Sat December 27, 2014

With Each New Upheaval In Iraq, More Minorities Flee

An Iraqi Christian prays inside a shrine on the grounds of the Mazar Mar Eillia Catholic Church in Irbil, in northern Iraq. Irbil has become home to hundreds of Iraqi Christians who fled their homes as the Islamic State advanced earlier this year.
Matt Cardy Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 8:10 am

Northern Iraq is a lot more diverse than just Arabs and Kurds or Sunni and Shiite. For centuries, it has been home to multiple religious groups with ancient roots in the region.

But more than a decade of turmoil has driven many religious minorities out, with the most recent example being the onslaught of the self-proclaimed Islamic State militants, or ISIS.

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Parallels
7:40 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Kurds Put Their Independence Dreams On Hold

Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters arrive Saturday in Sinjar in northern Iraq, where they have made gains against the Islamic State. The Kurds were talking about independence this summer, but now appear focused on fighting the Islamic State.
Safin Hamed AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 3:42 pm

Soon after Kurdish peshmerga fighters broke a siege by Islamic State extremists around Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, Kurdish television reporters arrived to broadcast the riotous celebrations.

This was the largest gain by the Kurds against Islamist militants since August, when Islamic State fighters, also known as ISIS, threatened Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

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Iraq
4:47 am
Sat December 20, 2014

Kurdish Troops Free Yazidis, But Major Battles Remain

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 8:39 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Parallels
12:31 am
Thu December 18, 2014

At An Isolated Camp, Iraqi Police Prep For A Showdown With ISIS

More than 4,000 officers of the Nineveh province security force are based in an isolated training camp in northern Iraq. Their aim is retaking ISIS-controlled Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 9:31 am

When Mohammed Taha Yaseen recalls the day that Islamic militants swept through Iraq's northern city of Mosul this past summer, he chokes up.

"The army ran away," he says, and pauses to gain control of his voice. "We didn't run — the police stayed and fought ISIS."

Yaseen, an officer in the Mosul police force, tells his story at an isolated training camp in northern Iraq, less than 20 miles from the front lines with ISIS, also known as the Islamic State.

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Parallels
8:19 am
Wed December 17, 2014

A Tweet On Women's Veils, Followed By Raging Debate In Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian women wear their traditional face covering, the niqab, at a coffee and chocolate exhibition in the capital Riyadh on Monday. A prominent religious figure said on Twitter that the face veil is not mandatory, sparking a heated national debate.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 10:48 am

The man at the eye of the storm in Saudi Arabia is Ahmad Aziz Al Ghamdi. He's a religious scholar, the former head of the religious police in Mecca, a group officially known as the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

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Parallels
1:40 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Facing Threats From ISIS And Iran, Gulf States Set To Join Forces

A member of the Saudi border guards mans a machine gun at the border with Iraq in July. Since the so-called Islamic State launched its offensive this summer in Iraq, Saudi Arabia has sent thousands of troops to the region.
Faisal Nasser Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 8:17 am

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.

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The Two-Way
10:04 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Mall Murder Of American Teacher Stuns UAE, Where Violence Is Rare

Video footage shows a black-clad suspect at the mall in Abu Dhabi where Monday's stabbing took place.
YouTube

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 10:59 am

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.

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Parallels
12:37 am
Thu December 4, 2014

A Syrian Entrepreneur Looks To Build The Amazon Of The Arab World

Ronaldo Mouchawar, a native of Syria, is the founder of Souq.com, which is now considered the leading e-commerce site in the region. He says his company, which is based in Dubai, reflects a quiet transformation that is taking places in parts of the Arab world.
Courtesy of Souq.com

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 6:11 pm

When Ronaldo Mouchawar was working in a Boston engineering firm he dreamed of moving back to the Arab world. Born and raised in Aleppo, Syria, he had come to the U.S. to study, then got a high-paying job, but he believed he "owed something" to his home region.

It turned out his ticket back was a smart idea at the right time.

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Parallels
8:00 am
Sat November 22, 2014

It's Crunch Time For The Iranian Nuclear Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (left) shake hands as Oman's Minister for Foreign Affairs Yussef bin Alawi (second from right) and the former EU top diplomat Catherine Ashton watch in Muscat, Oman on Nov. 9. Iran is holding talks with six world powers in Vienna this weekend in advance Monday's deadline for a deal on Iran's nuclear program.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 22, 2014 8:45 am

Can Iran and six world powers reach a historic deal over Iran's nuclear program by Monday? The negotiations are at a crucial phase. As the deadline nears, regional hopes and fears are rising in equal measure.

A successful nuclear deal to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions could finally defuse one of the most dangerous crises in the Middle East. But a deal could also lead to more instability as regional powers react to what would be a historic re-set in relations in the Middle East.

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Parallels
10:58 am
Sat October 25, 2014

Iranian Entrepreneurs Make Pitches That Are Just Practice, For Now

Companies from Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran were among the more than 100 Internet startups at this year's Startup Istanbul event on Sept. 30. It was Iranian entrepreneurs' first time competing on an international stage.
Courtesy of Startup Istanbul

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 3:25 pm

Imagine this: You have a great idea for an Internet startup. You're sure it will work. You are ready to be part of the global market. There's one big problem: You live in Iran, a country facing some of the most extensive financial sanctions imposed on any country in the world.

That was the challenge for a team of young Iranian entrepreneurs competing in the recent Startup Istanbul, where aspiring entrepreneurs got to pitch ideas to the founders of successful tech companies and venture capitalists at a conference in Turkey.

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