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
4:22 am
Sun July 14, 2013

The Don Who's Taken Charge Of Jordan's Biggest Refugee Camp

Mohammed al Hariri is known as the mafia don of the Zaatari Refugee camp. He is the man who gets things done.
Peter Breslow/NPR

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 10:14 pm

In chaotic situations, certain people rise to the top, and that is certainly the case for Mohammed al-Hariri, a former air conditioning repairman who commands enormous deference on the windblown streets of Zaatari refugee camp.

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Middle East
2:17 am
Fri July 12, 2013

In Southern Syria, Rebels Say U.S. Support Is Critical

Free Syrian Army fighters after a battle against government troops in Zaizoon, near Dera'a, on Feb. 16.
Shaam News Network Landov

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 7:38 pm

The battle for the city of Dera'a in southern Syria has become a test of an American pledge to give military support to rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad. After a string of defeats, the rebels have scored rare victories around Dera'a.

But in interviews,rebel commanders passing through neighboring Jordan say those gains could be lost without a dependable arms pipeline and promised U.S. support.

Yasser Aboud, a thin, intense former colonel in the Syrian army, commands the joint operations center for southern Syria.

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Parallels
12:59 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 11:36 am

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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Parallels
2:54 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

In A Rough Neighborhood, Jordan Clings To Its Stability

Jordanian protesters chant slogans against corruption during a March 15 anti-government demonstration in Amman. Jordanians have held Arab Spring-inspired protests since 2011, demanding political reforms and anti-corruption measures. The protests have been peaceful.
Khalil Mazraawi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 1:19 am

Across the turbulent Middle East, Arab revolts have toppled dictators and strongmen. Jordan remains stable for now but the pressure is mounting.

The Syrian war rages right next door, sending a flood of refugees across the border that has strained every resource in the kingdom.

Jordan shares the region's troubles: a faltering economy; rampant unemployment, especially among the young; and a popular demand for a say in how the country is governed.

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Parallels
7:28 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Jordan Accused Of Targeting Online Dissent

A Jordanian woman surfs the Web at an office in the Amman, Jordan, on Sept. 30, 2009. The country's government is under fire from media activists for blocking hundreds of websites across the kingdom.
Ali Jareki Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 1:43 pm

Jordan's King Abdullah vowed to make the desert kingdom a "free Internet" country as he began his rule more than a decade ago. On June 2, when local Internet providers were ordered to block hundreds of news websites across the kingdom, Web publishers protested the broken promise and international media watchdog organizations charged censorship.

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Middle East
4:26 am
Mon June 17, 2013

U.S. War Planes Participate In Exercises In Jordan

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 12:13 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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Parallels
8:42 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Is Syria's Bashar Assad Getting The Upper Hand?

Syrian President Bashar Assad reiterated his intention to remain in his current position during a television interview last week. The Syrian president and his army have been looking stronger in recent weeks, many analysts say.
SANA AP

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 10:19 am

After more than a year of military stalemate in Syria between the rebels and the government, President Bashar Assad appears to be making political and military gains and is not likely to be pushed aside anytime soon, according to many analysts.

Assad reasserted his plans to stay in power during a recent interview on Al Manar TV, a channel owned by Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group, which has openly joined the Syria war on Assad's side.

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Parallels
12:36 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Teaching The Rules Of War In Syria's Vicious Conflict

This image provided by the Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad and released May 2 shows soldiers loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad standing amid dead bodies at Bayda village, in the mountains outside the coastal city of Banias, Syria.
Anonymous AP

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 2:02 pm

A new video from Syria is shocking even by the standards of a war that keeps setting new standards for brutality.

In the video, a rebel fighter identified as Khalid al-Hamad is shown cutting out and eating the organs of a dead government soldier.

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The Two-Way
4:07 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 4:34 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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NPR Story
4:11 am
Mon May 6, 2013

Thousands Of Syrians Ride Buses To Refugee Camps

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 10:54 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
5:03 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 12:15 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
2:59 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 8:23 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
2:22 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 7:59 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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Middle East
2:03 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Syrian Financial Capital's Loss Is Turkey's Gain

Syrian refugees are pictured at Kilis refugee camp in Gaziantep, Turkey, on Nov. 1. An estimated 150,000 Syrians are reported to be living in the Turkish border town.
Maurizio Gambarini DPA/Landov

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 9:20 pm

There is a brain drain in Syria, an exodus of the skilled and the educated as the Syrian revolt grinds into a third year.

The health care system is one casualty, as hospitals and clinics are shelled and doctors flee the country.

The business community is another — particularly in Aleppo, Syria's largest city and once the country's industrial and financial hub.

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Middle East
2:24 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Syrian Aid Groups Train An Army Of Activists

Workers prepare hundreds of food baskets to be distributed by the NGO Watan to needy refugees from Syria now living in Reyhanli, Turkey.
Jodi Hilton for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 7:57 pm

At a border crossing, Mulham al-Jundi directs aid vehicles from southern Turkey into Syria. The Turkish border officials know him; they quickly stamp his papers and wave him through.

Jundi is with Watan, a private Syrian aid group that collects donations from abroad and delivers support to some of the hot spots inside Syria — places that international aid agencies have been unable to reach.

The group has seven ambulances that help support field hospitals that have been established inside Syria, says Jundi, 28, who heads the aid operation from an office in southern Turkey.

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The Two-Way
11:36 am
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
4:11 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 5:49 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
3:28 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 7:27 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
4:53 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
9:53 am
Sun March 3, 2013

Miles From Home, Syrians Vote In Free Elections

As Aleppo residents in the Tariq al-Bab district recover from this week's attack by Syrian regime forces, delegates from the city are in Turkey holding an election for local officials.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 3, 2013 10:24 am

In Syria's northern province of Aleppo, the war is far from over. Yet civilians are planning a dramatic gesture: an election for a civilian government.

This weekend, delegates from across the province are taking part in the first free vote outside of the control of President Bashar Assad's regime. Its location: Gaziantep, Turkey.

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Middle East
3:32 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

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

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 5:30 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
2:42 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 7:17 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
3:20 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

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 8:01 pm

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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Middle East
1:57 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Tracking Rape In Syria Through Social Media

Syrian women walk through a market area in the northern city of Aleppo last November. A new website is documenting the use of rape in the Syrian conflict.
John Cantlie AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 7:17 pm

Rape has long been a weapon of war, but documenting sexual violence usually happens after a conflict is over. Researchers are taking a new path with the Syrian conflict: tracking the incidents of rape as they occur.

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Middle East
5:00 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Syrian Opposition Fears Waning Western Support

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 9:11 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's talk next about the uprising in Syria, where many people are asking, what happened to the United States? The U.S. promised practical help to the Syrian opposition, but NPR's Deborah Amos reports that help has not arrived.

DEBORAH AMOS, BYLINE: This was the scene last month in Morocco, at the Friends of Syria meeting. The Obama administration recognized the Syrian National Coalition; so have 130 other nations.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WILLIAM BURNS: Good afternoon, everyone.

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