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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4:32pm

Fri March 28, 2014
Parallels

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

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

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

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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4:44pm

Thu March 20, 2014
Parallels

Viral Photo Of Syrian War Victims Comes To Times Square

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

4:20pm

Mon March 17, 2014
Parallels

A Syrian Refugee Camp With Girl Scouts And A Safeway Store

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

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

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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5:07am

Mon March 17, 2014
Middle East

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.

10:58am

Sun March 16, 2014
Middle East

Saudi Aid Boost To Syrian Rebels Puts Jordan At Risk

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

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

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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3:27am

Fri March 14, 2014
Parallels

'Waiting For Godot' Strikes A Chord In Tehran

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

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

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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3:08am

Wed March 5, 2014
Middle East

Iranian Women Make A Push For Greater Opportunities

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

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

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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11:26am

Sat February 1, 2014
Parallels

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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5:06pm

Fri January 24, 2014
Middle East

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.

5:37pm

Mon January 20, 2014
Middle East

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.

7:30am

Mon January 20, 2014
Parallels

Low Hopes, High Stakes For Syria Peace Conference In Geneva

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

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

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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5:48pm

Wed January 8, 2014
Middle East

As Rebels Fight Rebels, Grim Reports From A Syrian City

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 10:29 pm

The flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, flutters on the dome of an Armenian Catholic Church in the northern rebel-held Syrian city of Raqqa on Sept. 28, 2013. At first, Syrian rebels and civilians welcomed the experienced Islamist fighters, and the groups fought together to take over the city from Syrian troops. Now, many Syrians fear and resent ISIS.
AFP/Getty Images

Reports from the Syrian city of Raqqa are dire. In the north-central provincial capital, "the atmosphere has gone from bad to worse," says one activist with a rare link to the Internet. He reports the city is "completely paralyzed," the hospital is abandoned, and there are bodies in the central square. There is no power or water for a city of more than half a million people. Even the critical bread ovens are shut.

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4:50pm

Thu December 26, 2013
Parallels

Syria's War Creates A Demand For Artificial Legs

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 8:53 am

A staff member at the clinic in southern Turkey works on a prosthetic leg that will be given to a victim of Syria's civil war.
Deborah Amos NPR

In a clinic in southern Turkey, Mohammed Ibrahim helps 23-year-old Syrian Mustapha Abu Bakr take his first steps since he lost his legs, holding on to a set of bars for balance.

"He can't express his feelings," Ibrahim says. "It's a new thing completely for him."

Ibrahim explains that patients who have lost a leg below the knee can walk out of the clinic without crutches after a day of practice. For double amputees like Abu Bakr, who was injured in Syria's civil war, the adjustment takes more time.

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11:43am

Fri December 20, 2013
Parallels

Rebel Leader: Nuns Were Led To Safety, Not Seized, In Syria

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 1:53 pm

Nuns from the Mar Takla convent in Maaloula, Syria.
YouTube

There are differing versions of what happened to the Greek Orthodox nuns of Maaloula, who left their convent north of Damascus earlier this month. Some say the nuns are being held hostage by Islamic radicals. Others say they were under missile assault by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad and were rescued by rebel fighters.

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4:36pm

Thu December 12, 2013
NPR Story

Radical Islamists In Northern Syria Spill Over Turkish Border

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:44 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

As we just heard, Turkish officials say they're clamping down on the radical Islamists who move through Turkey to join the rebellion in Syria. But in some frontier towns of southern Turkey, there's little sign of a crackdown.

NPR's Deborah Amos has that story.

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5:23am

Sat December 7, 2013
Parallels

With The Help Of Smugglers, Syrian Refugees Sneak Into Europe

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 9:57 pm

Refugees warm their hands at a refugee camp in Harmanli, Bulgaria, on Nov. 27. More Syrians are turning up in Europe. Many are trying to get to northern Europe, believing that is the best place to start a new life.
Nikolay Doychinov AFP/Getty Images

The 27-year-old Syrian, who once smuggled arms for Syrian rebels, is now waiting in Istanbul for a human smuggler to get him to Europe. He says his name is Mohammed. He does not offer a second name. He will go by air, he says, the safest route. He has paid a smuggler more than $8,000, and he's sure he will get to Austria.

In the past week, he connected seven friends with smugglers.

"I know that most of them made it," he says, with a tight smile. He is traveling light. Everything he owns is in a backpack.

"I am leaving Syria under a lot of pressure," he explains.

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6:58pm

Mon December 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

As Polio Spreads In Syria, Politics Thwarts Vaccination Efforts

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 9:31 am

Syrian boys line up to get the polio vaccine at a refugee camp in Sidon, Lebanon, on Nov. 7. The Lebanese government plans to vaccinate all kids under age 5 for the virus, including Syrian refugees.
Mohammad Zaatari AP

The World Health Organization has declared a polio emergency in Syria.

After being free of the crippling disease for more than a decade, Syria recorded 10 confirmed cases of polio in October. Now the outbreak has grown to 17 confirmed cases, the WHO said last week. And the virus has spread to four cities, including a war-torn suburb near the capital of Damascus.

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4:15am

Mon November 18, 2013
Middle East

After Stalemate, Regime Troops Gain Against Syrian Rebels

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 6:09 am

The Syrian army has been gaining significant ground against the rebels around the capital and in the north city of Aleppo. Analysts say the regime has better allies, superior fire-power and in this sectarian battle, has finally integrated Shiite forces from Hezbollah into a formidable force that is effective against disunited rebels.

11:20am

Fri October 4, 2013
Parallels

Do You Know What The U.S. Government Is Up To In Syria?

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 9:47 am

Syrian youths line up for food distribution in the Maiber al-Salam refugee camp in northern Syria, near the border with Turkey. The U.S. government has provided more than $1.5 billion in aid to Syrians since the uprising began in 2011.
Dimitar Dilkoff AFP/Getty Images

Mark Ward is the U.S. State Department's senior adviser on assistance to Syria, and when he heard the Syrian border town of Azaz was overrun by an offshoot of al-Qaida in September, he knew it was time to get creative again.

"You always have to have a plan B in this kind of work," he says.

Ward is based in Turkey. His job is to oversee a growing and unusual U.S. humanitarian assistance program in rebel-held areas in seven provinces across northern Syria.

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3:43am

Thu September 26, 2013
World

Syrian Rebels: U.S. Distracted By Focus On Chemical Weapons

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 5:06 am

Smoke from heavy shelling rises above buildings in Dara'a, Syria, on Aug. 28.
Ugarit News AP

A satellite cellphone rings for rebel commander Bashar al-Zawi, at home with his family in the Jordanian city of Irbid. It's a rare domestic break for this wealthy businessman turned rebel commander. But he is anxious to get back to his battalion of 5,000 fighters in southern Syria.

They are taking part in a rebel offensive that is squeezing the Syrian army around the city of Dera'a. Military analysts say the fight is one of the most strategically important battles in Syria's civil war, because Dera'a, close to Damascus, is President Bashar Assad's stronghold in the southwest.

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4:22pm

Sun September 22, 2013
Parallels

Small Syrian Border Town Magnifies Rift Between Rebel Groups

A Free Syrian Army soldier stands on a Syrian military tank in front of a damaged mosque in the Syrian town of Azaz in September 2012. A different rebel group, an al-Qaida offshoot, took over the town on Wednesday.
Hussein Malla AP

A small town on the Syrian-Turkish border is playing an outsized role in what has become a war within the war in Syria. Azaz is now a symbol of the dangerous rift between Western-backed rebels under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army and a radical Islamist groups linked to al-Qaida.

Clashes on Wednesday — the seizure of Azaz by an al-Qaida offshoot — were followed more closely than other battles, in part because Azaz was the gateway town for journalists reporting on Syria.

From Cooperation To Competition

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2:55pm

Thu September 12, 2013
Parallels

For Some Syrian Refugees, A New Home In Germany

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 5:21 pm

Syrian refugees wait in Beirut before a flight to Germany on Wednesday. More than 100 Syrians were on the flight, the first mass relocation program for Syrian refugees. Germany has agreed to take in 5,000 of them.
Nabil Mounzer EPA/LANDOV

As a Syrian Christian man rolled the family luggage through Beirut's international airport, he practiced his German: "Thank you, danke, dankeschon."

The man, who asked not to be named, is part of a group of Syrian refugees offered temporary resettlement by Germany for two years. The contingent, which flew out Wednesday, included 70 adults and 37 children and infants.

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11:49am

Mon September 9, 2013
Parallels

Who Are The Syrian Rebels?

Originally published on Mon September 9, 2013 1:46 pm

A rebel fighter inspects purchases made by civilians as they cross through a building near the front lines in Aleppo, in northern Syria, on Monday. The city has been divided for more than a year, with the rebels holding the eastern part and government troops holding the west.
Reuters/Landov

When it comes to Syria's rebels, the conventional wisdom in Washington has been that there are countless factions with a range of agendas and it's difficult, if not impossible, to know exactly who they are.

But ask researchers who've spent two years digging into social media and YouTube videos and they offer a remarkably detailed picture of rebel brigades, their ideologies and their arsenal of weapons in the fight against President Bashar Assad's regime.

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5:22am

Sun July 14, 2013
Parallels

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

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 11:14 pm

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

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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3:17am

Fri July 12, 2013
Middle East

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

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 8:38 pm

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

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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1:59pm

Mon July 8, 2013
Parallels

Reversing Direction, Some Syrian Refugees Now Head Home

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

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

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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5:12pm

Mon July 1, 2013
Parallels

In A Rough Neighborhood, Jordan Clings To Its Stability

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

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

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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2:47pm

Sat June 29, 2013
Middle East

As Doctors Leave Syria, Public Health Crisis Looms

Originally published on Sat June 29, 2013 3:44 pm

Refugees fill cans with water inside a camp in Baalbek, Lebanon, for Syrians who have fled the fighting in their country.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

The death toll in Syria's ongoing civil war may now be as high as 100,000. As the violence mounts, another emergency is looming: a public health crisis across the region.

That's the conclusion of a new study published by the British medical journal The Lancet. Syria's health care system is near collapse. Outbreaks of disease are on the rise in the country, and refugees sheltered beyond the border are also at great risk.

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8:28am

Wed June 26, 2013
Parallels

Jordan Accused Of Targeting Online Dissent

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 2:43 pm

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

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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6:03am

Mon June 17, 2013
Middle East

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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