Jackie Northam

Jackie Northam is Foreign Affairs correspondent for NPR news. The veteran journalist has more than two decades of experience covering the world's hot spots and reporting on a broad tapestry of international and foreign policy issues.

Based in Washington, D.C., Northam is assigned to the leading stories of the day, traveling regularly overseas to report the news - from Afghanistan and Pakistan, to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Northam just completed a five year stint as NPR's National Security Correspondent, covering US defense and intelligence policies. She led the network's coverage of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, traveling regularly to the controversial base to report on conditions there, and on US efforts to prosecute detainees.

Northam spent more than a decade as a foreign correspondent. She reported from Beirut during the war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006, from Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and from Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. She lived in and reported extensively from Southeast Asia, Indochina, and Eastern Europe, where she charted the fall of communism.

While based in Nairobi, Kenya, Northam covered the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. She managed to enter the country just days after the slaughter of ethnic Tutsis began by hitching a ride with a French priest who was helping Rwandans escape to neighboring Burundi.

A native of Canada, Northam's first overseas reporting post was London, where she spent seven years covering stories on Margaret Thatcher's Britain and efforts to create the European Union.

Northam has received multiple journalism awards during her career, including Associated Press awards, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, and was part of an NPR team journalists that won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award.



Mon December 5, 2011

Diplomats Meet In Germany On Afghanistan's Future

A big international conference is being held in Bonn, Germany, on Monday to help draw up a roadmap for Afghanistan after combat operations there cease at the end of 2014. But Pakistan — a critical player in the Afghanistan conundrum — has said it's boycotting the conference after NATO troops killed 24 Pakistani soldiers during an attack in late November.


Tue November 29, 2011
Middle East

Report Says Syrian Forces Have Killed 256 Children

Syrian has come under increasing international pressure in recent days. On Monday, Syrians protested in the capital Damascus against the Arab League's decision to impose sanctions. Syria has also come under sharp criticism from an independent commission that accused the security forces of systematically carrying out abuses against anti-government demonstrators.
Yin Bogu Xinhua /Landov

An independent commission has released a blistering human rights report that says Syria's security forces have carried out widespread abuses against protesters, including murder and torture.

The commission, appointed by the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, based its report on interviews with more than 220 witnesses or victims of abuse by Syrian security forces. The panel says it collected a solid body of evidence and identified patterns of human rights violations.

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Wed November 23, 2011

Memo Costs Pakistan's Envoy His Job

Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. has resigned amid a brewing scandal involving his country's civilian leadership and its powerful military.

Hussain Haqqani, a well-regarded ambassador for more than three years, is alleged to have been involved in writing a memo that asked the U.S. to prevent a military coup in Pakistan, something he denies. This latest crisis will do little to calm an already-turbulent relationship between Pakistan and the U.S.

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Sun November 20, 2011

New U.S. Strategy On Afghanistan Hinges On Pakistan

Pakistani protesters shout slogans during a protest in Multan on Oct. 14 against U.S. drone attacks in Pakistani tribal areas. Officials said U.S. drone strikes on Oct. 13 killed 10 militants, including a senior commander in the Haqqani network. Drone attacks are one way the U.S. hopes to squeeze the Haqqani militants.
AFP/Getty Images

As the drawdown of American combat troops in Afghanistan nears, the U.S. is facing an increasingly dangerous opponent. The Pakistan-based Haqqani network, allied with the Taliban, is believed to be behind a recent string of deadly attacks in Afghanistan, and it's forcing the U.S. to rethink an earlier strategy for stabilizing the country.

But the strategy hinges on help and cooperation from Pakistan — which is never a sure thing.

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Thu November 17, 2011

Asia In Focus As U.S Expands Australia Defense Ties

Originally published on Thu November 17, 2011 12:40 pm

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and President Obama hold a joint news conference in Australia on Wednesday. The U.S. is sending some 250 U.S. Marines to the country next year, a number that will later grow to 2,500.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

President Obama traveled early Thursday to the Australian city of Darwin, a base for past U.S.-Australian military cooperation. Now it will be one of several military bases from which the U.S. operates as it seeks to reassert itself in Asia.

Some 250 U.S. Marines will arrive in northern Australia next year, a number that will later expand to about 2,500. U.S. jets and warships will also train with the Australians.

Abraham Denmark, a China specialist at the Center for Naval Analyses, sees the new focus on Asia as a natural evolution of U.S. interests.

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Mon October 24, 2011

Clinton Recounts 'Comprehensive' Talks In Pakistan

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just returned to the U.S. after a weeklong trip through Central Asia. Most of her stops were associated with two issues: the war in Afghanistan, and frayed relations with Pakistan. Clinton described her talks with U.S. and Pakistani military leaders as very comprehensive.


Sun October 23, 2011

Central Asia Warms To Clinton As Drawdown Looms

Originally published on Sun October 23, 2011 4:30 pm


AUDIE CORNISH, host: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton winds up a week long overseas tour today, one that's focused on the war in Afghanistan and tensions with Pakistan. Her last couple of stops were in Central Asia, which is playing an increasingly important role as the U.S. begins its drawdown in Afghanistan. NPR's Jackie Northam has been traveling with the secretary. She has this report from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the last stop on Clinton's tour.


Secretary HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you.

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Thu October 20, 2011

Gadhafi: An Iron-Fisted, Often-Brutal Leader

Gadhafi ruled Libya for more than four decades with an iron fist. Gadhafi was a complex, often brutal leader with a grand vision of himself — one he displayed up until the final moments of his leadership.


Thu October 20, 2011

Moammar Gadhafi Ruled Libya With An Iron Fist

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 12:19 pm

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, shown in a 2008 file photo, ruled Libya for 42 years. Libya's new leaders say he was killed Thursday in his hometown of Sirte.

Sergei Grits AP

Moammar Gadhafi ruled Libya with an iron fist for more than four decades. He was an unpredictable, often brutal leader with a grand vision of himself. In the end, he squandered his country's wealth and lost the support of his people.

During his 42 years of rule, Gadhafi reinvented his image many times — from revolutionary to Arab nationalist, freedom fighter and self-styled leader of Africa.

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Sat October 1, 2011

Conditional Aid For Pakistan: Change Not Guaranteed

Pakistani security personnel stand alert on a street in Quetta in September. Proposed appropriations bills in both the U.S. House and Senate make economic and military assistance to Pakistan conditional.
Banaras Khan AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan is a leading recipient of U.S. economic aid, receiving billions of dollars every year in both civilian and military support. However, the recent rocky patch between the two countries is pushing many members of Congress to reevaluate the assistance package.

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Mon September 26, 2011

Fragile U.S.-Pakistan Relations On Downward Spiral

Originally published on Mon September 26, 2011 1:35 pm

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta looks on at left as Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen testifies Thursday in Washington.
Harry Hamburg AP

The fragile and troubled relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan is on a deep, downward spiral. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that Pakistan's intelligence agency had a role in several high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, including the attack earlier this month on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

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Fri September 23, 2011

Europe's Debt Crisis Casts Cloud Over U.S. Economy

U.S Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (left) speaks to French Finance Minister Francois Baroin (right) during talks in Marseille earlier this month. The U.S. is increasingly concerned that the European debt crisis will have an impact on the U.S. economy.
Lionel Cironneau AP

With all the worry over the ailing U.S. economy, Europe's debt crisis may have seemed a long way off.

But not anymore. The faint tinkle of alarm bells a few months ago are now clanging loudly. What began as a crisis in smaller countries, like Greece, Portugal and Ireland, is now creating serious issues in much larger economies like Italy, France and Germany.

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Fri August 19, 2011

Some In France Want To Say Au Revoir To The Euro

France is the latest country to get swept up in the European debt crisis, with market rumors that the country might lose its Triple-A credit rating. NPR's Jackie Northam reports on how the French are reacting to concerns about the financial crisis and the future of the Euro.


Mon August 15, 2011

Arctic Warming Unlocking A Fabled Waterway

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:33 am

The Louis S. St Laurent icebreaker slices its way through the ice of the Northwest Passage.
Jackie Northam NPR

It appears as just a speck on the horizon, a slightly darker shape against a vista of Arctic ice. Soon enough, the ship's bridge makes the announcement: "Polar bear, starboard."

Crew and passengers onboard the CCGS Louis S. St.-Laurent, Canada's largest icebreaker, head to the open deck, binoculars and cameras ready, and watch as the bear lumbers from one ice floe to another, quickly dipping into the inky blue water and effortlessly pulling himself back up again.

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Thu August 4, 2011
Middle East

Condemnation But No Resolution From U.N. On Syria

The U.N. Security Council has again failed to reach agreement on a resolution condemning the Syrian government for its violent crackdown on protesters there. Instead, the council president issued a much milder statement. The U.S. and the international community have a few options to increase the pressure on Bashar Assad's government.


Mon July 11, 2011
National Security

Popularity Of Drones Takes Off For Many Countries

A model of a surveillance drone by the French Dassault Aviation and the British BAE Systems is on display at the International Paris Air Show in June.
Pierre Verdy AFP/Getty Images

As the U.S. begins withdrawing ground troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, it is increasingly depending on unmanned aerial vehicles to track and kill suspected terrorists and other enemies. That has pushed production of the weaponized drones to new levels.

But remotely controlled aircraft, especially the type used for surveillance, are becoming ubiquitous throughout the world, says Peter Singer, author of Wired for War.

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Wed June 22, 2011
National Security

U.S. Prods Europe On NATO Spending

Defense Secretary Robert Gates urges NATO members to boost defense spending. He is speaking on June 10 in Brussels.
John Thys AFP/Getty Images

One of the calculations in President Obama's decision Wednesday on U.S. troops in Afghanistan is the growing concern about the cost of military operations — not only in that country, but in other areas as well.

Funding for NATO is coming under the microscope amid growing complaints about the U.S. paying a disproportionate share to the alliance.

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Thu June 16, 2011

U.S.-Pakistan Relations Move From Grudging To Toxic

The relationship between the United States and Pakistan has long been one of grudging interdependency. The U.S. needs Pakistan to help in the fight against Islamist militants and to serve as a supply transit route for military operations in Afghanistan. Pakistan needs the U.S. for financial aid, and access to international lenders and the global economy. But neither side much likes nor trusts the other.

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Sun June 5, 2011
Middle East

Yemen Leader's Exit Leaves Shaky Political Ground

Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh, is recovering in a Saudi hospital, following surgery for wounds he suffered in a rocket attack on his palace Friday. Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for 33 years, left with several senior government officials who were also wounded in the attack.

Saleh's departure set off celebrations in Yemen as protesters have tried for the past four months to oust him from power. But there are concerns his absence could create a power vacuum in a country where al-Qaida has a strong base.

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Sun May 29, 2011

Becoming An American: A Proud Canadian's Story


Jackie Northam covers foreign affairs for NPR news. She has spent two decades covering the world's hot spots, reporting on international and foreign policy issues. She was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

The one question that came up repeatedly since I started my U.S. naturalization process nine months ago was: why?

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Fri May 27, 2011

Attack On Pakistani Base Renews Nuclear Qualms

Aircraft wreckage is seen at the Mehran Pakistani naval air base a day after militants attacked it.
Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images

Since Osama bin Laden was killed earlier this month by U.S. Navy SEALs not far from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, there has been a wave of retaliatory attacks on various installations in Pakistan. That has raised concerns about the safety of the country's nuclear weapons.

One of the most brazen of the recent attacks happened last weekend, when armed militants scaled the wall of the heavily guarded Mehran navy base near the southern city of Karachi. They fought off Pakistan's military, including commandos, for 17 hours.

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Sat May 21, 2011
Middle East

Bahrain Crackdown Puts Pressure On U.S. Diplomacy

Bahraini police fired tear gas to disperse protesters gathered at Pearl Square in Manama on March 13. The square was the epicenter of anti-government protests.
AFP/Getty Images

When popular uprisings swept through Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, President Obama openly threw his support behind the protesters, trumpeting the dual ideals of democracy and freedom.

But that was not the case when the unrest reached Bahrain. The demonstrators, mostly from the majority Shiite population, were calling for reforms in the tiny island kingdom ruled by Sunnis.

The protests quickly turned nasty — scores of people were killed, hundreds wounded. Neighboring Saudi Arabia sent in about 1,000 troops to help quell the demonstrations.

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Wed May 4, 2011
Middle East

Hamas, Fatah Hopeful Reconciliation Deal Will Last

A reconciliation pact is set to be signed on Wednesday in Cairo between two key Palestinian factions: Hamas and Fatah. The deal was brokered by Egypt and by independent Palestinian groups which pushed the long time rivals into mending their differences. Both sides say they know the agreement is fragile and that much work remains.


Tue May 3, 2011
Middle East

Israel Balks At Palestinian Unity Deal

Israel is taking a tough line against a reconciliation deal between two rival Palestinian factions.

A unity agreement is set to be signed Wednesday in Cairo by Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, a hardline Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip. The agreement would help end a bitter four-year divide between the two groups. But Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organization and is leveling punitive actions against the Palestinian government for agreeing to the deal.

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Thu April 28, 2011

Fatah, Hamas Deal Could Effect Mideast Peace Process

There have been upheavals and challenges to the status quo across the Arab world — but not when it comes to the Palestinians, who have been in a stalemate in the peace process with Israel for months.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is preparing to jump-start a push for statehood.

But some believe that initiative could be derailed by a new reconciliation accord between Abbas and the Islamist militants of Hamas, who remain strongly opposed to peace with Israel.

Pressure on the Palestinian Authority

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Wed April 27, 2011
Middle East

Israel Takes Wait-And-See Approach To Syria Unrest

The upheavals sweeping the Arab world are being watched closely by Israel.

The government there was deeply concerned when the Egyptian regime was ousted because of the potential impact on the 32-year-old peace treaty between the two countries.

Now Syria, Israel's neighbor to the north, is on fire, presenting another threat to Israel's long-term stability.

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Thu April 7, 2011
Conflict In Libya

Oil A Major Prize In Fight For Control Of Libya

In the fight for control of Libya, the country's lucrative oil industry is a major prize.

For weeks, the fighting between Libyan rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has seesawed along a major highway that hugs the Mediterranean coast — one day the rebels capture a strategic city, the next day Gadhafi's forces take it back. It is a vicious fight for control, but then this stretch of coastline is prime real estate because it contains Libya's main oil ports, says Greg Priddy, analyst of global energy and natural resources at Eurasia Group.

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