Alice Fordham

Alice Fordham is an NPR International Correspondent based in Beirut, Lebanon.

In this role, she reports on Lebanon, Syria and many of the countries throughout the Middle East.

Before joining NPR in 2014, Fordham covered the Middle East for five years, reporting for The Washington Post, the Economist, The Times and other publications. She has worked in wars and political turmoil but also amid beauty, resilience and fun.

In 2011, Fordham was a Stern Fellow at the Washington Post. That same year she won the Next Century Foundation's Breakaway award, in part for an investigation into Iraqi prisons.

Fordham graduated from Cambridge University with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics.

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5:19pm

Sat January 3, 2015
Parallels

After Making Waves In 2014, ISIS' Power Appears To Ebb

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 10:54 am

Iraqi crowds cheer as the countdown and fireworks begin during a New Year's Day celebration at Firdos Square in Baghdad on Wednesday.
Hadi Mizban AP

In the heat of summer in 2014, Baghdad was spooked. A third of Iraq was under the control of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS. The extremist group thrived in the chaos of the Syrian civil war, then surged over the border into Iraq and took over the cities of Mosul and Tikrit. People worried the capital might be next.

Six months on, that's changed. On New Year's Eve, for instance, the usual midnight curfew was lifted and people partied in the streets and uploaded videos of themselves letting off fireworks.

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3:25am

Wed December 31, 2014
Parallels

There And Back Again For U.S. Military In Iraq

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 12:43 pm

U.S. soldiers patrol the Taji base complex, which hosts Iraqi and U.S. troops north of the capital Baghdad. Taji is one of an eventual five sites where the U.S. and allied countries aim to train 5,000 Iraqi military personnel every six to eight weeks for combat against the so-called Islamic State.
Ali al-Saadi AFP/Getty Images

Three years after the U.S. military officially withdrew from Iraq, 2,000 U.S. troops are back. They're restoring the old buildings they'd left behind and renewing contacts with Iraqi officers they knew before.

They're also taking incoming rocket fire at their bases.

This week began an ambitious training program to put 5,000 Iraqi soldiers through boot camp every six weeks.

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3:22am

Wed December 24, 2014
Parallels

For Syria's President, The Year Ends Better Than It Began

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 9:12 am

Syrian President Bashar Assad, shown here in July, appeared to be in a tough position at the beginning of the year. But many analysts say his hold on power grew stronger over the course of 2014, due in part to the U.S. bombing campaign against the Islamic State.
SANA AP

At the beginning of 2014, Syrian President Bashar Assad had agreed to send his ministers to take part in negotiations in Switzerland, and his future as Syria's ruler was not looking very bright.

He was accused of killing tens of thousands of his own people in a civil war that was nearly three years old. The opposition was demanding Assad's ouster. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Switzerland and called loudly for a political transition in Syria. He was clear about who would not be involved.

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1:47pm

Tue December 16, 2014
Parallels

Amid Strains, Syrian Refugees Are Facing Curfews In Lebanon

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:46 pm

A Syrian refugee child carries water in the Fayda Camp, some 25 miles east of Beirut, Lebanon, on March 10.
Jerome Delay AP

In Lebanon — a fragile little country of just 4 million people — there are about 1 million refugees from Syria. Many have been here three years, and their welcome is starting to wear thin.

Some towns and villages have imposed a curfew on refugees – enforced by local groups of volunteers. But in a country that experienced a brutal civil war, some are concerned about the return of armed civilian groups.

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5:39am

Sat December 13, 2014
Parallels

Syrian Women Displaced By War Make Tragedy Of 'Antigone' Their Own

Originally published on Sat December 13, 2014 2:21 pm

Mona, 28, narrates during a rehearsal of Antigone. "I feel that Antigone resembles me a lot," says the former resident of Damascus and mother of two.
Dalia Khamissy for NPR

Barefoot in a yoga studio in Lebanon's capital Beirut, a couple dozen actresses raise voices and stretch bodies that had grown used to being quiet and still.

"Go on," they cry as a clapping exercise speeds up, and they fill the room with whoops and uninhibited yells.

But these women aren't professional actresses. In fact, they're refugees from Syria, and this production of the Greek tragedy Antigone is a project designed to help them deal with their trauma.

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5:40am

Sun November 30, 2014
Parallels

With Shopping, Holy Sites, Najaf Offers Respite From Iraq's Violence

Originally published on Sun November 30, 2014 12:44 pm

An Iranian national shops at a popular market in the holy Iraqi Shiite city of Najaf. Recently, the city — where millions of international pilgrims visit every year — has been spared the worst of Iraq's violence.
Haidar Hamdani AFP/Getty Images

The holy Iraqi city of Najaf has a brand-new and appropriately holy shopping center: the Najaf City Mall.

Under banners with Muslim prayers, children rampage through an adventure playground, while conservative women in long black robes browse for cute outfits to wear when they're home with family.

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3:28pm

Tue November 25, 2014
Parallels

Amid Violence, Iraq Fractures Again Along Religious Lines

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 7:06 pm

An Iraqi child, whose family fled from Islamic State violence in the northern city of Mosul, stands outside a tent that serves as a school in the southern city of Najaf on Sunday. Some 2 million Iraqis have been driven from their homes by fighting this year.
Alaa Al-Marjani Reuters/Landov

The shrine of Imam Ali in the Iraqi city of Najaf is a vast gold-domed edifice, where Shiite Muslims from all over the world gather to pray.

But just a few minutes drive away, are travelers of a different, shabbier kind. A long row of cinder block and sheet metal buildings is draped in bright flags with religious slogans. Usually, these are for pilgrims to sleep in. But right now, they're spilling over with displaced Iraqi families.

"It's tough for the children," says Zaira Raqib, a mother of four of them. "We know we're displaced, but they don't understand."

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3:52am

Thu November 20, 2014
Parallels

Despite A Massacre By ISIS, An Iraqi Tribe Vows To Fight Back

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 9:12 am

Sunni tribesmen train on the outskirts of Ramadi, Iraq, on Nov. 16. Legislation authorizing a force of Sunni fighters drawn from Anbar province itself — modeled on the U.S. National Guard — has yet to be passed.
Ali al-Mashhadani Reuters/Landov

The massacre of the Albu Nimr tribe came after they had fought against the extremists of the so-called Islamic State for weeks. In Iraq's vast western province of Anbar, the tribesmen had been driven from their stronghold in the city of Hit in early October.

They clung on to one last outpost on the outskirts of the city for nearly two more weeks. The Albu Nimr are accustomed to fighting. They say they participated in two insurrections against Saddam Hussein and boast of their ancestors' roles in pushing out British colonial rule.

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3:27pm

Wed November 12, 2014
Parallels

Who's That Lebanese Man With A Beard: Hipster Or Jihadi?

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 2:03 pm

Mazen Hariz, a bartender and business student in east Beirut, says it took him seven months to grow his beard.
Tim Fitzsimons for NPR

Mazen Hariz is well-groomed. A bartender and business student, he has fine features, limpid dark eyes and a long, shiny beard topped with a twirling mustache.

He tends to his appearance meticulously.

"My beard is like my girlfriend," he says during a cigarette break from a shift at the Kayan bar in east Beirut.

It took seven months to grow, and needs 30 minutes of attention every morning. First, hot water, then shampoo, conditioner, blowout and then sometimes straighteners. But not too often because that's not good for the beard.

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6:32pm

Tue November 4, 2014
Iraq

We Are Not Slaughterers: An Iraqi Village Rejects Islamic Militants

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 11:38 am

Citizens of Dhuluiyah, Iraq, must take boats to get in an out, since one of the town's two bridges was blown up by the Islamic State and the other was commandeered by tribesmen defending them.
Ahmad Al-Rubaye AFP/Getty Images

The only way for civilians to get to the town of Dhuluiya is by boat across the river Tigris, since the so-called Islamic State blew up the main bridge here and tribesmen battling them commandeered the other.

Steering through long reeds, we pull into a little dirt harbor. Here, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, is the home of a branch of the Jubbour tribe. They're a big Sunni group in this agricultural area and they want to tell me how they've halted the advance of the Islamic State.

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