NPR: Kelly McEvers

After many years in the Middle East, Kelly McEvers is back home and working as a national correspondent based at NPR West. She previously ran NPR's Beirut bureau, where she earned a George Foster Peabody award, an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia award, a Gracie award, and an Overseas Press Club mention for her 2012 coverage of the Syrian conflict. She recently made a radio documentary about being a war correspondent with renowned radio producer Jay Allison of

In 2011, she traveled undercover to follow Arab uprisings in places where brutal crackdowns followed the early euphoria of protests. She has been tear-gassed in Bahrain; she has spent a night in a tent city with a Yemeni woman who would later share the Nobel Peace Prize; and she spent weeks inside Syria with anti-government rebels known as the Free Syrian Army.

In Iraq, she covered the final withdrawal of U.S. troops and the political chaos that gripped the country afterward. Before arriving in Iraq in 2010, McEvers was one of the first Western correspondents to be based, full-time, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

In 2008 and 2009, McEvers was part of a team that produced the award-winning "Working" series for American Public Media's business and finance show, Marketplace. She profiled a war fixer in Beirut, a smuggler in Dubai, a sex-worker in Baku, a pirate in the Strait of Malacca and a marriage broker in Vietnam.

She previously covered the former Soviet Union and Southeast Asia as a freelancer for NPR and other outlets. She started her journalism career in 1997 at the Chicago Tribune, where she worked as a metro reporter and documented the lives of female gang members for the Sunday magazine.

Her writing also has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The Washington Monthly, Slate and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her work has aired on This American Life, The World, and the BBC. She's taught radio and journalism in the U.S. and abroad.

She lives with her family in California, where she's still very bad at surfing.



Fri August 19, 2011
Middle East

Activist: It's Time For Syrian Opposition To Unify

Syrian President Bashar Assad addresses a meeting of his Baath Party in Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday. President Obama called on Assad to step down, though it's not clear who would replace Assad if he quit or was ousted.

President Obama has now called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to quit. But if he did, or if he is toppled, who would replace Assad?

There's no clear answer. Assad and his late father, Hafez Assad, have ruled Syria for four decades and have not tolerated anything that resembles a genuine opposition inside the country's borders.

"There is no opposition in Syria. There are opposition groups," said Lebanon's Wissam Tarif, who has been a prominent campaigner for democracy and human rights in the Middle East.

Divided Opposition

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Wed August 17, 2011
Middle East

In Syrian Conflict, Tactics Grow Increasingly Brutal

Originally published on Wed August 17, 2011 9:40 pm

This screen grab, taken from an amateur YouTube video, shows a crowd beating a man in the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zour. This video cannot be independently verified.

Syrian tanks and gunships are attacking neighborhoods in towns and cities around the country that have been hotbeds of anti-government protest, as the government pushes ahead with what's being called a Ramadan offensive.

Activists say the latest, most grisly trend is to detain protesters, torture them to death, then release their bodies for all to see. Activists say of the 70 deaths in detention they've documented so far, nearly 40 have been in the central city of Homs.

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Mon August 15, 2011
Middle East

Yemeni Protest Movement Darling Frustrated By Pace Of Change

Tawakkol Karman is the darling of the protest movement in Yemen. A longtime human rights activist and defender of the freedom of expression, she was a natural choice as a leader of a student movement that quickly grew into a nationwide revolution to remove Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh from power. But now, six months on, Saleh is still clinging to power, divisions are forming among the opposition, and pockets of the country are turning violent. Karman hasn't lost her resolve, but she admits she's frustrated by the grinding pace of change.


Sat August 13, 2011
Middle East

In Yemen's South, Islamists Gain Ground

Yemenis walk past Saint Anthony Church in the southern city of Aden in 2010. Two months ago, tens of thousands of residents fled to Aden from their homes in Zinjibar after militants stormed the town. The displaced persons are now camped out in schools in Aden.

The growing turmoil in Yemen is on display in the southern city of Aden, where tens of thousands of people have sought shelter after fleeing a nearby town that has been taken over by Islamist fighters.

The trouble erupted less than an hour's drive east of Aden, in the town of Zinjibar, about two months ago. Militants rumored to be affiliated with al-Qaida stormed the town, captured government buildings and looted the central bank. Government forces responded with airstrikes.

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Fri August 12, 2011
Middle East

Syria's Deadly Crackdown On Protesters Continues

Defying growing international condemnation, Syrian security forces continue their bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters across the country. A U.S.-based human rights group says injured protesters are afraid to seek treatment in government-run hospitals, for fear of being detained and beaten.


Wed August 10, 2011

Yemen Tribesmen Protect Anti-Government Protesters

The Yemeni city of Taiz was the first to see mass sit-ins by protesters opposed to the country's president. Since security forces shot and killed dozens of protesters in May, tribesmen have been protecting demonstrators, and have regularly clashed with soldiers. It's a formula that's being repeated around Yemen, and one that many believe could push the country into civil war.


Sat August 6, 2011
Middle East

Doctors Without Borders Targeted In Bahrain

Tens of thousands of Bahrainis participate in an anti-government march on July 29 in Saar, Bahrain. The protest took place a day after authorities raided and shut down the local office of an international medical aid group, highlighting the way the government crackdown has included medical workers who have treated injured protesters.
Hasan Jamali AP

In Bahrain, the local office of the international medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres has been raided, its local driver has been arrested, and the operation has been shut down.

The government has largely suppressed a mass protest movement, and the security forces in Bahrain have carried out a crackdown on those who continue to demonstrate against the country's rulers.

MSF has been aiding injured protesters who were too afraid to go to the hospital, for fear they'd be arrested.

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Thu August 4, 2011
Middle East

War Or Compromise: What's Next For Yemen?

After months of massive anti-government protests and increasing bouts of violence involving a dizzying array of combatants, Yemen seems on the brink of total collapse and all-out war. But some in the Arabian country are still holding out hope for a negotiated solution, including the departure of longtime leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.


Fri July 29, 2011
Middle East

Bahrain Sets Up Panel To Investigate Unrest

Tents burn on March 16 as Bahraini security troops raid the site of a pro-democracy sit-in at Pearl Square, in the capital, Manama.
Joseph Eid AFP/Getty Images

The government of Bahrain has invited a renowned international legal scholar to investigate what went on during mass protests in February and March, and the brutal crackdown on the largely Shiite opposition that ensued. More than 30 people died, hundreds were detained and beaten, and thousands were fired from their jobs.

The commission is headed by Cherif Bassiouni, an Egyptian-born legal expert who has investigated war crimes and human rights violations in the Balkans, Rwanda, Afghanistan and, most recently, Libya.

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Thu July 21, 2011

Flow Of Fighters Shifting On Iraq-Syria Border

The crackdown on protesters in Syria is spreading to the far corners of the country — recently, to a remote town on the border with Iraq in Syria's eastern desert.

This tribal region has long been known as a transit point for fighters and weapons coming into Iraq during the war, and for refugees leaving Iraq for Syria. Now, those routes might be reversing.

Trouble began in the Syrian town of Al-Bukamal this past weekend. Like in so many Syrian cities and towns, people took to the streets in protest against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

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Wed July 20, 2011

In Iraq's Tahrir Square, A Plea For Missing Relatives

A woman at the protest holds a photograph of missing male relatives.
Isra al Rubei'i NPR

Nearly every Friday, there's a small Arab uprising in Baghdad. The location is Tahrir Square, a plaza marked by a renowned modernist sculpture that depicts Iraqis in a lifelong struggle for freedom. Alongside young protesters calling for an end to corruption and better services is a distinctive and resolute group: women in black robes holding photographs of their male relatives — the mothers, wives and sisters of the missing.

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Tue July 19, 2011

Fiery Iraqi Cleric's Political Party Puts On New Face

At a recent press conference, Iraq's minister of planning, Ali Youssef al-Shukri, stepped to the podium, gave a brief and somber blessing, and announced the issue of the day: a new mechanism for quality control of imports to Iraq.

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Mon July 11, 2011

Dispute Over Key Jobs Stalls Iraq's Government

Iraqi demonstrators shout slogans during a weekly protest against corruption, unemployment and poor public services in the war-torn country at Baghdad's Tahrir Square on July 8. Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of Parliament, says it's the Iraqi people who are losing out as a political stalemate continues.
Ali al-Saadi AFP/Getty Images

Even though it's been nearly eight months since political rivals in Iraq came together to form a coalition government, key positions in that government have yet to be filled, and political infighting continues.

At issue is the fact that Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who's backed by the country's Shiites, and his main rival, Ayad Allawi, who's backed by the Sunnis, simply cannot agree on who should run the ministries of defense and interior.

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Fri June 3, 2011
Middle East

Bahrain Accuses Doctors Of Exaggerating Protesters Injuries

Bahrain officially ended a period of martial law this week after mass uprisings nearly shut down the country in February and March. But armored vehicles still patrol the streets, military courts are still in place, and hundreds of people remain in detention. Among the detainees are elected officials, opposition members and even doctors who are accused of treating protesters. NPR's Kelly McEvers reports on how the detention of the upper-middle class is broadening the opposition, not suppressing it.


Thu June 2, 2011
Middle East

Bahrain's Crackdown Creates Sectarian Fallout

The Mo'men mosque in Nwaidrat stood in the same location for generations until it was bulldozed last month. The Sunni-run government in Bahrain has destroyed at least 47 Shiite mosques in recent weeks.
Roy Gutman MCT/Getty Images

The mass protest movement that swept Bahrain in February and March has since turned into a bitter sectarian confrontation. The tiny island nation — a key U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf — is mostly populated by Shiites, but it's ruled by a Sunni royal family.

Analysts say the family is now pushing a sectarian agenda that might eventually be its undoing.

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Wed June 1, 2011
Middle East

Bahrain Prepares To Lift State Of Emergency

The government of Bahrain today is expected to lift a state of emergency that was declared at the height of the anti-government protests in March. Mary Louise Kelly talks to NPR's Kelly McEvers about the situation in Bahrain.


Tue May 31, 2011
Middle East

Women The Latest Target Of Bahrain's Crackdown

Thousands of anti-government protesters gathered at Bahrain's Pearl Roundabout in the capital Manama in mid-February. On March 18, the government demolished the monument.
Adam Jan/AFP/Getty

For the past two and a half months, the government of Bahrain has cracked down brutally on opposition figures who led massive anti-government protests in February and March. Doctors, journalists, human rights workers and even elected officials have been detained and beaten.

The government's most recent targets are women.

"They took me from my work," one woman says. "And from the beginning they slapped me on my face, on my head, shoulder."

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Tue May 31, 2011
Middle East

Activists In Bahrain Lay Low After Crackdown

NPR's Kelly McEvers has an update on how things are going in Bahrain after security forces cracked down on anti-government protests.


Sat May 28, 2011

Iraqi Leader Reconsiders U.S. Troop Withdrawal

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been saying for months that he'll stand by his agreement with the U.S. for the withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq by the end of this year.

In recent weeks, though, Maliki has done a turnaround. Now he says he'd support keeping some troops in the country after the deadline, if he can get a majority of Iraq's politicians to agree.

Maliki outlined his position in a news conference, saying he's willing to meet Iraq's elected officials and consider whether some U.S. troops should stay beyond this December.

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Fri May 13, 2011
Middle East

In Syria, Thousands Protest Regime

Originally published on Fri May 13, 2011 7:01 pm



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

And we begin this hour with news out of Syria. Thousands of protesters across that country took to the streets today for the ninth Friday in a row, this despite one of the most brutal crackdowns against an uprising anywhere in the Arab world. In a moment, we'll hear from a reporter who recently slipped into Syria posing as a tourist and was detained by government security forces there.

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Thu May 12, 2011
Middle East

Al-Jazeera Reporter Missing

Until recently, the whereabouts of a reporter for the Al-Jazeera English-language channel were unknown. Dorothy Parvaz, who was born in Iran, flew to Syria last month. Syria has deported her to Iran.


Wed May 11, 2011
Middle East

Syrian Refugee: Protesters Can't Stop Now

Tank shells crashed into residential neighborhoods in the Syrian city of Homs on Wednesday. The country's third-largest city has been a hub of anti-government protests in recent weeks.

Abu Omar recently fled Homs to Lebanon. Before the trouble in Syria started, he was a housepainter. The country's economy was opening up and people were building. He says his children had free education and free health care.

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Tue May 10, 2011
Middle East

Syrian Forces Tighten Grip On Homs

The latest city in Syria to be surrounded by tanks and troops is the northern city of Homs. Residents of the country's third largest city say tanks moved in under cover of darkness and electricity, water and phones have been cut off. Activists say more than a dozen people have been killed and scores more detained and interrogated.


Fri May 6, 2011

Syria Strains Turkey's 'No Problems' Foreign Policy

The brutal government crackdown on protesters in Syria has drawn criticism, sanctions and the threat of more sanctions from the U.S., the U.N. and the EU. But some of the toughest talk in recent days has come from one of Syria's key allies: Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian President Bashar Assad have long been close. But that might be coming to an end.

On a Turkish TV news channel, Erdogan said he was beginning to have doubts that Assad will keep his promises to release political prisoners and enact serious government reforms.

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Wed May 4, 2011
Middle East

Syria Hopes Arrests Will Still Stop Protester

Steve Inskeep talks with NPR's Kelly McEvers about recent arrests of protesters in Syria. (03:45)


Wed April 20, 2011

Grave Discovery In Iraq Unearths Sectarian Unease

In western Iraq, authorities have discovered a mass grave they say holds the remains of more than 800 people who are thought to have been killed during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

It's believed the country has hundreds of mass graves from the Saddam era — and countless new graves from more recent conflicts. But not all sites get the same treatment.

Into The Grave

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Mon April 18, 2011

Sectarian Divisions Linger In Iraq

As the U.S. military looks to pull out most of its troops from Iraq by the end of this year, the country still faces the problem of sectarianism. In Diyala province south of Baghdad, a Shiite tribe that had recently returned to its land after being displaced during sectarian fighting was attacked by a neighboring Sunni tribe. Now the Shiite tribe is forcing the Sunni tribe out of the area.


Mon April 11, 2011

Iraq's Chalabi Advises Protesters Abroad

The revolutionary fervor sweeping the Arab world is opening a new door for a familiar but controversial figure in Iraq. Ahmed Chalabi, the man who helped persuade the United States to topple Saddam Hussein, is now taking up the cause of freedom fighters around the Arab world.

Chalabi says Iraq should lead the way toward democratic change in the region. But Chalabi might have other motives as well.

Reaching Out To Bahrainis

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Sun April 10, 2011

Iraq Protests Urge U.S. Out Sooner

The U.S. has contended that its troops likely will remain in Iraq beyond the December 2011 withdrawal deadline, but recent anti-American protests could change the game. It's no longer politically expedient for Iraq to ask the Americans to stay, and protests this weekend underscore that.