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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3:23pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Middle East

For Some Arab Revolutionaries, A Serbian Tutor

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 7:21 pm

Srdja Popovic, who runs the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies, speaks in Belgrade in February. He played a prominent role in ousting Serbia's dictator in 2000, and has worked with Arabs involved in uprisings in their countries during the past year.
Darko Vojinovic AP

Srdja Popovic, a lanky biologist from Belgrade, helped overthrow a dictator in Serbia a decade ago. Since then, he's been teaching others what he learned, and his proteges include a host of Arab activists who have played key roles in ousting Arab autocrats over the past year.

"This is a bad year for bad guys," Popovic says with a broad grin in a New York cafe.

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5:02pm

Fri December 2, 2011
Middle East

After Fleeing, Syrian Activists Regroup In Turkey

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, right, and Turkish President Abdullah Gul meet in Ankara, Turkey on Friday. Biden praised Turkey for putting pressure on neighboring Syria to stop its bloody crackdown of protesters.
Murat Cetinmuhurdar AP

In a matter of months, Turkey has gone from one of Syria's strongest allies to one of its sharpest critics as the uprising in Syria has been met with a harsh crackdown by President Bashar Assad.

Turkey has become a haven for Syrian refugees, a base for Syrian army defectors and a home for Syria's main political opposition group. And on Friday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was in Turkey for talks that included the deteriorating conditions in Syria.

On the streets of Istanbul, Akram Asaf, a 31-year-old lawyer who fled Syria, says he feels safe, but not yet free.

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5:03am

Wed November 2, 2011
Middle East

With Protests, Syrians Are Learning Politics

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 8:38 am

Anti-government protesters march in the village of Amouda, Syria on Sept. 30. For many Syrians, the protests mark the first time they have taken part in anything resembling politics.

Shaam News Network AP

Government opponents in Syria have not been able to dislodge President Bashar Assad, but they are doing something the country has rarely if ever seen: they are organizing by themselves, outside of government control.

The massive street protests, demanding the end of Assad's regime, have defined the revolt over the past eight months.

But other things are happening as well, far from public view. In one quiet office in Damascus, Ashraf Hamza, 28, is leading a group of men at a session on community organizing.

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12:01am

Fri October 21, 2011
Middle East

Prominent Syrian Activist Flees, Reveals Identity

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 10:30 pm

At his home in Syria, activist Rami Jarrah, 28, spoke out under the alias Alexander Page. Fearing arrest, he recently fled to Egypt.

Courtesy of Rami Jarrah

The Syrian government has barred most international journalists from the country, restricting coverage since an uprising began last spring. In response, Syrian activists have played a crucial role in providing information to the wider world.

One of the most prominent is Alexander Page — an alias that a young Syrian used for his safety. He was often cited by international media outlets, including NPR.

But he recently fled Syria after his identity was compromised and he was in danger of arrest.

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4:06pm

Wed October 19, 2011
Middle East

In Syria, Can The President Outlast The Protesters?

Originally published on Wed October 19, 2011 8:40 pm

Syrian women stroll past posters of President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Monday. Assad has relied heavily on his security forces as he battles an uprising now in its eighth month.

Muzaffar Salman AP

Syria's President Bashar Assad has survived an uprising that's now in its eighth month, and he shows no signs of buckling. The president has relied on a massive security presence to limit protests at home, and has dismissed criticism and sanctions from abroad.

But is this strategy sustainable, or is Assad simply buying time?

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4:39am

Sun October 16, 2011
Middle East

Syria Keeps Pressure On Protesters, Ignores Critics

Originally published on Sun October 16, 2011 6:00 pm

Mourners surround the hearse carrying the coffin of Kurdish opposition leader Meshaal al-Tammo during his funeral last Sunday in Amuda, in northern Syria. Supporters blamed the Syrian government for his death.

Reuters HO/Landov

From the outset of the Syrian uprising last spring, Syria's president, Bashar Assad, offered promises of reform. Activists, meanwhile, documented abuses by his security forces, including video footage of shootings against unarmed protesters.

Now, the Assad government appears to be relying exclusively on brutal repression, giving free reign to the security services to crush the revolt, according to analysts inside and outside the country.

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12:01am

Fri October 14, 2011
Middle East

Syrians, Not The Regime, Feel The Sting Of Sanctions

Syrians walk in the Hamidiyah market, decorated with portraits of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Syrian flags, in Damascus, Syria, Oct. 5, 2011. The European Union has intensified economic sanctions against Syria, but the crackdown against anti-regime protesters is unlikely to stop, Syrians say.

Bassem Tellawi AP

Every Syrian is feeling the economic pain of a seven month uprising and western sanctions to end a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters.

But shopkeepers tell a different story along a street of open-air shops in the Midan neighborhood in central Damascus. A government escort accompanies an NPR reporter for interviews about the sensitive subject of tightening economic sanctions against Syria.

Hassan Shagharouri runs a sweets shop. When asked if prices are rising, he responds that the prices are the same and that everything is perfect.

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12:01am

Wed October 5, 2011
Middle East

Even In Lebanon, No Safe Haven For Syrian Dissidents

Lebanese and Syrian protesters demonstrate against the Syrian government in Beirut in August. Syrian defectors say they fear the Syrian regime will track them down, even in Lebanon.

Anwar Amro AFP/Getty Images

Syrian exiles, both defecting soldiers and civilian protesters, have slipped across the border into northern Lebanon seeking safety from the Syrian government and its relentless crackdown on opponents.

But even here, they can literally hear the shooting from across the border in the restive Syrian town of Homs, less than 20 miles away. They express fear that President Bashar Assad's forces will track them down in Lebanon. Those most at risk are army defectors who are hiding out in small Lebanese villages.

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4:19am

Wed September 28, 2011
Middle East

Syrian Leader Digs In For A Long Battle

Despite domestic and international pressure, Syrian President Bashar Assad has pursued an aggressive crackdown on protesters, and the outcome of the seven-month-old uprising is far from clear.
Muzaffar Salman AP

After seven months of protests in Syria, the international community has stepped up economic pressure, and some of Syria's traditional allies have turned into critics.

Yet President Bashar Assad presses on with a relentless and bloody crackdown, and his government seems to be operating on its own timeline when it comes to the uprisings that have already toppled several Arab regimes.

The events in Syria suggest it's time for a reassessment of the Arab spring, according to Vali Nasr, a former U.S. government adviser and Middle East scholar at Tufts University.

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2:10am

Sun September 25, 2011
Middle East

Pro-Assad 'Army' Wages Cyberwar In Syria

Supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad carry a giant flag with his image on it during a pro-regime protest in Damascus, Syria, in August. Pro-government forces are now taking their message to a new arena: cyberspace.
Muzaffar Salman AP

Struggling to put down a rebellion now in its seventh month, the Syrian government has turned the Internet into another battleground.

Sophisticated Web surveillance of the anti-government movement has led to arrests, while pro-government hackers use the Internet to attack activists and their cause. It appears to be part of a coordinated campaign by the embattled government.

Syria's leadership insists there is no uprising in the country. Syria's official news media reports that the unrest is a fabrication, part of an international plot.

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3:23pm

Mon September 19, 2011
Middle East

With Police Watching, Syrian Dissidents Meet

Originally published on Mon September 19, 2011 5:23 pm

More than 300 Syrian dissidents met near Damascus on Sunday, and afterward they held a news conference and called for more protests to oust President Bashar Assad's government. From left: Rajaa Nasser, Hussein Awdat, Hassan Abdul Azim, Saleh Mohammed and Samir Aita.
Louai Beshara AFP/Getty Images

It was an unprecedented gathering in Syria: The security police were monitoring, but they did not break up, a six-hour meeting of more than 300 dissidents at a farmhouse outside the capital Damascus.

Syria's traditional dissidents, men and women who have spent years in jail, have met before. For the first time, they sat together Sunday with young street organizers of the current unrest.

Samir Aita, an opposition figure who lives in Paris, attended the gathering and talked about the significance when he reached Beirut.

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4:59am

Wed August 3, 2011
Middle East

Syrian Uprising Expands Despite Absence Of Leaders

In a photo provided to AFP by a third party, Syrians demonstrate after Friday prayers in the central city of Hama on July 22. Syrian security forces killed at least eight civilians as more than 1.2 million protesters swarmed cities to protest against President Bashar al-Assad's rule, activists said.
- AFP/Getty Images

Syria's uprising has been called the YouTube Revolution. The protest videos from cities across the country are a guide to how the movement works.

The banners and the slogans are remarkably similar, from the city of Dera'a in the south, to Hama on the central plain, to the eastern desert town of Deir Ezzor. Even in the capital of Damascus, the chants are the same: "It's time for President Bashar al-Assad to go."

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9:57am

Mon August 1, 2011
Middle East

Syrian Opposition Echoes Cry For Liberty Or Death

In a photo provided to AFP by a third party, Syrians demonstrate against the government after Friday prayers in Hama on July 29. The Syrian government has banned most foreign media from entering the country, making it difficult to independently confirm events.
- AFP/Getty Images

The holy month of Ramadan begins Monday in many parts of the Muslim world — 30 days of fasting from dawn to dusk, when large crowds gather for an additional nighttime prayer.

Ramadan could also be a decisive time for the protest movement in Syria. The government has stepped up mass arrests as activists vow to shift from weekly rallies to nightly ones outside mosques that have become centers of protest.

"I am not going to stop," said Mohammed Ali, a 24-year-old architect, and one of many activists who say they will be on the streets every night during Ramadan.

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1:00pm

Tue July 19, 2011
Middle East

Ads Push For A Middle Ground Amid Syrian Conflict

Ammar Alani (left) and Rami Omran created an advertising campaign in Syria with the help of friends in the media business, to call for a middle-ground solution to the ongoing crisis.
Deborah Amos NPR

The uprising in Syria is often described in terms of black or white — you either support the country's leader or you are a revolutionary.

But many residents of Damascus describe themselves as gray people, neither black nor white, and they're struggling to find a voice.

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3:00pm

Fri July 15, 2011
NPR Story

In Syria, Opposition Stages Massive Protests

There were massive opposition protests in towns and cities across Syria Friday, despite an ongoing government crackdown that left at least 19 protesters dead. Hundreds of thousands marched in cities like Deraa, Hama and Homs — all three have been major hubs of the protest movement. But there were also protests and violence in Damascus Friday. The Syrian capital has been comparatively quiet until now.

5:20am

Fri July 15, 2011
Middle East

A Facade Of Normal Life In Syria's Capital

Syrians walk outside the Omayyad Mosque in the old city Damascus in April. Residents are adapting to life amid the s ongoing uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime.
Anwar Armo AFP/Getty Images

Things are slowly returning to a normal life in Damascus. But the foreign tourists are missing as the uprising against President Bashar Assad drags.

4:00am

Tue July 12, 2011
Middle East

U.S.: Syria's Government Orchestrated Attack

U.S. officials accuse the Syrian government of orchestrating Monday's attack on the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Damascus. Supporters of President Bashar Assad scaled the embassy fence, smashed bullet-proof glass and security cameras, and climbed onto the roof. The French Embassy was also targeted.

The assault came three days after a surprise visit by the American and French ambassadors to the city of Hama to show support for peaceful protests there.

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7:38pm

Thu July 7, 2011
Middle East

Syria's Best-Known Dissident Reflects On Uprising

Michel Kilo's book-lined apartment in a Christian neighborhood in Damascus is a quiet contrast to streets where protesters demand an end to Syria's repressive regime.

But Kilo has never been silent, despite years in jail for directly criticizing what he calls a military dictatorship run by one family. At 71, Syria's best-known dissident watches the protest movement that has thrown the country into turmoil and reflects on the failures of his own generation.

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4:00am

Mon July 4, 2011
NPR Story

Syrian Security Forces Kill 2 Anti-Regime Protesters

In Syria, the city of Hama has been the scene of the largest anti-government protests in the country.

Rallies have often been met with armed retaliation by security police. That didn't happen at Friday's mass rally, and the city's governor was fired. There were reports of tanks advancing on the city.

Hama is a sensitive place. Thirty years ago, the Syrian army crushed an Islamist rebellion there, killing tens of thousands.

Now, a new generation is on the streets, demanding democracy.

A Coming Backlash?

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10:00am

Fri July 1, 2011
Middle East

Syrian Government Opposition Stages Major Protests

Protestors march in the streets of Damascus on Friday.
Deborah Amos NPR

Anti-government protests continue across Syria after three more deaths were reported in the north.

10:19am

Thu June 30, 2011
Middle East

Syria's Minorities Fear Sectarian Split Amid Protests

Father Gabriel Daoud is a Syriac Orthodox priest in Damascus. He says his parish is nervous about the growing protest movement and believes it's anti-Christian.
Deborah Amos NPR

In Syria, a four-month protest movement and a government crackdown have strained the country's ethnic and sectarian mix.

The government and military command are dominated by Alawites, a minority sect that is an offshoot of Shia Islam. The protesters are mostly Sunnis and ethnic Kurds.

Syrian officials have warned of sectarian war if the protests continue. That message has spread fear among Syria's minority communities — in particular, Syrian Christians.

Concern About 'The Morning After'

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4:00am

Thu June 30, 2011
Middle East

Syria Permits Vigil For Slain Civilians, Soldiers

Protesters in the Syrian capital Damascus staged a candlelight vigil Wednesday night to press for democratic changes. It was the first officially-sanctioned protest in the capital, and it comes just days after the regime allowed opposition activists to meet at a Damascus hotel.

5:33am

Wed June 29, 2011
Middle East

Syria Insists It's Ready To Embrace Change

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And let's turn now from economic to political reforms. The Syrian government insists it's ready to embrace a move towards democracy - reforms that meet the demands of protestors in the street. After months of demonstrations and cracking down hard on those protesters, a senior Syrian official says the government has gotten the message. This comes just after members of the opposition were able to meet for the first time in an officially-sanctioned gathering.

NPR's Deborah Amos reports from Damascus.

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11:10am

Tue June 28, 2011
The Two-Way

In Syria, Government Lets International Media In To Make Its Case

In the beginning of the uprising in Syria, the government banned the international media. So, every report from the foreign outlets about what was happening carried the warning, "we can not confirm the information" because the media was scrambling to piece together the news from videos produced by the protest movement and government statements coming from Syria state TV.

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6:30am

Mon June 27, 2011
Middle East

Syria Allows Reporters To Travel To 'Massacre' Site

Syria's government has finally allowed a small group of western journalists into the country. They were allowed to travel to Jisr al Shughour, where Syrian officials say armed gangs staged a massacre. More than 300 soldiers and security personnel were killed.

3:00pm

Wed June 22, 2011
Middle East

Syria Faces Pressure From A Reliable Ally

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem lashed out Wednesday at new economic sanctions from Europe, but promised democracy in Syria within months.

In a television address, Moallem accused Europe of playing with fire for imposing a new round of economic sanctions. We will forget that Europe is on the map, he said.

But Moallem also called on Syrian dissidents to come to Damascus for talks. He invited political exiles home and promised constitutional change, adding meat to the bones of President Bashar Assad's speech Monday.

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5:35am

Tue June 21, 2011
Middle East

Syria's Assad Warns Of Dangerous Economic Climate

The official Syrian News Agency (SANA) released a photo showing Syrian President Bashar Assad addressing the nation from Damascus University on Monday.
Ho/SANA AFP/Getty Images

Syria has been hit hard by a protest movement that has disrupted business, farming and trade.

In a speech to the country at Damascus University Monday, President Bashar Assad told his supporters: "The most dangerous thing we face in the coming period is the collapse of the economy."

It's feared financial pressures may be a greater threat than protests.

In normal times, the Lebanese-Syrian border is a busy place. But now, there are hardly any cars, hardly anyone standing in line to cross.

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12:01am

Thu June 16, 2011
Middle East

Syrian Tactics Estrange Media Supporters In Lebanon

After three months of demonstrations in Syria, it is a daily struggle to get an accurate picture of events. The Syrian government has banned most international media, and Syria's state TV presents an official version contradicted by an anti-regime protest movement that bolsters its narrative with video clips and Facebook postings.

In neighboring Lebanon, even news editors supportive of President Bashar Assad's regime say Syria is losing credibility in the media war.

A Lebanese Paper, Close To Syria

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4:00am

Mon June 13, 2011
Middle East

Syrian Troops Regain Control Of Northern Town

Over the weekend, Syrian troops regained control of a town near the border with Turkey. There was heavy fighting reported, and a mass grave was discovered.

4:00am

Fri June 10, 2011
Middle East

Syrian Army Takes Over Town Near Turkish Border

The Syrian army has moved in to restore security. Earlier this week, Syrian officials said 120 security personnel were killed there.

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