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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3:49am

Wed April 22, 2015
Parallels

Last Armenian Village In Turkey Keeps Silent About 1915 Slaughter

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 11:45 am

Armenian refugees on the deck of the French cruiser that rescued them in 1915 during the massacre of the Armenian populations in the Ottoman Empire. The photo does not specify precisely where the refugees were from. However, residents of Vakifli, the last remaining Armenian village in Turkey, were rescued by a French warship that year.
Photo 12 Photo12/UIG/Getty Images

A hundred years ago this week, the Ottoman Empire began the killings and forced marches of Armenians in what most historians call the first genocide of the 20th century.

Turkey staunchly denies that label, saying the deaths — estimated by historians at around 1.5 million — were part of widespread ethnic fighting in a civil war.

Regardless of the label used, the result was destruction of virtually every Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed after the war. What was left of the country transitioned into the modern-day Republic of Turkey.

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3:42am

Fri April 17, 2015
Parallels

Turkish Educator Pledges $10M To Set Up Universities For Syrian Refugees

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 2:23 pm

Syrian children listen to a teacher during a lesson in a temporary classroom in Suruc refugee camp on March 25 in Suruc, Turkey. The camp is the largest of its kind in Turkey with a population of about 35,000 Syrians who have fled the ongoing civil war in their country.
Carl Court Getty Images

Once a sleepy border town, Reyhanli, Turkey, is now bursting with Syrian refugees, many of them school-age. More than half a million Syrian refugee children are out of school, and the education crisis is fueling an epidemic of early marriage, child labor and bleak futures.

"I just finished the 12th grade and I don't know what to do," says Abdullah Mustapha, a refugee from the Syrian town of Hama.

In fluent English, he talks about his dreams of a college education, but he doesn't speak Turkish well enough to pass the language test required for state universities.

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5:35am

Sun April 5, 2015
Parallels

Treating Saudi Arabian Jihadists With Art Therapy

Originally published on Sun April 5, 2015 11:19 am

Dr. Awad Al-Yami, an art therapist trained at the University of Pennsylvania, is a counselor at a Saudi Arabian center that seeks to rehabilitate convicted terrorists. The center claims a success rate of more than 80 percent, but acknowledges that some return to extremist groups like al-Qaida.
Deborah Amos/NPR

There are golf carts and palm trees and an Olympic-sized pool at the Mohammed Bin Naif Counseling and Care Center, a sprawling complex on the outskirts of Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh.

Once a holiday resort, the walled compound still looks like one — and not a rehabilitation center for convicted terrorists.

In the past year, the country has expanded counter-terrorism laws that make it illegal for Saudis to fight in Syria and Iraq. The kingdom has also expanded the terrorism rehab centers.

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7:20am

Sat March 21, 2015
Parallels

Under ISIS, Life In Mosul Takes A Turn For The Bleak

Originally published on Sun March 22, 2015 2:37 pm

Kurdish peshmerga fighters keep watch during the battle with Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Mosul on Jan. 21.
Azad Lashkari Reuters/Landov

Thousands of Sunni Arabs from Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, escaped to Erbil at the end of the summer when the militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State first overran the city and imposed a draconian social code.

Among them is a man we'll call the professor — he, his wife and their children fled Mosul in August. He doesn't want his name published because his extended family still lives there under ISIS control.

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3:11pm

Tue March 10, 2015
Parallels

Via Satellite, Tracking The Plunder Of Middle East Cultural History

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 9:50 am

Dura Europos, a Roman walled city in eastern Syria, dates back to 330 B.C. The main gate is shown here in a photo from 2010. It's one of the many important archaeological sites militants of the self-styled Islamic State have ransacked and damaged.
EPA /Deir Ezz-Zour Antiquities Department/Landov

Southern Turkey, near the Syrian border, is the crossroads for an extensive smuggling operation of ancient artifacts. Those transactions are held in secret, often in towns along the border.

But high overheard, eyes are watching: satellites scanning heritage sites, sending alarming imagery to Washington, D.C.

From her office in the nation's capital, analyst Susan Wolfinbarger monitors the ransacking of these sites in Syria and Iraq on a large-screen computer.

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4:16am

Tue March 10, 2015
Parallels

Saudi Girls Can Now Take Gym Class, But Not Everyone Is Happy

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 5:32 pm

Members of a Saudi women's soccer team, Rana Al Khateeb (left) and captain Rawh Abdullah, practice at a secret location in the capital Riyadh in 2012. Saudi women have had only rare opportunities to play sports. The country sent women to the Olympics for the first time in 2012 and now girls will be allowed to take physical education classes at public schools.
Hassan Ammar AP

When it comes to females and sports, Saudi Arabia is starting to change.

Saudi Arabia sent its first female competitors to the Olympics in 2012, after years of sending only men. The public schools, like many institutions, are segregated by gender, and only boys have been allowed to play sports. But girls will now be allowed to take part in their own sports and exercise programs, a move that is opposed by some hard-liners.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a new thing — and I really like it. I wish I was in school so I can have that," says Jowhara al-Theyeb.

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4:06pm

Mon March 9, 2015
Parallels

Saudi Arabia Ramps Up Training To Repel Homegrown Terrorists

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 8:07 pm

These pop-up targets are part of an advanced drill, named "friend or foe," that tests shooter reaction times. Some targets have a camera, and others, like these pictured, have a gun. The shooter must decide within seconds whether to shoot.
Deborah Amos NPR

Many Americans believe that Saudi Arabia has links to Islamist militants, but the Saudis say they are victims of terrorism, too.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State has recruited more than 2,000 young Saudi men, despite government programs to stop them.

Now, the Saudi government shares the fears of the U.S. and Europe: that these violent young men will come home and carry out attacks. There are signs that's already happening. As a result, the Saudis are ramping up training for counterterrorism missions.

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3:58am

Mon March 9, 2015
Parallels

In Syria, Archaeologists Risk Their Lives To Protect Ancient Heritage

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 5:42 pm

Syrian volunteers cover mosaics in the Ma'arra museum with a protective layer of glue, covered by cloth.
Ma'arra Museum Project/Safeguarding the Heritage of Syria and Iraq Project

The race to protect Syria's heritage from the ravages of war and plunder has brought a new kind of warrior to the front lines.

These cultural rebels are armed with cameras and sandbags. They work in secret, sometimes in disguise, to outwit smugglers. They risk their lives to take on enemies that include the Syrian regime, Islamist militants and professional smugglers who loot for pay, sometimes using bulldozers.

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1:28pm

Wed February 25, 2015
Middle East

Saudi Women Still Can't Drive, But They Are Making It To Work

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 5:40 pm

Saudi women, shown here at a cultural festival near the capital Riyadh on Sunday, still need the permission of male relatives to travel and even receive certain medical procedures, but a growing number are entering the workforce.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

The sign on the door to the office of eTree, an online advertising agency in Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh, reads: "Girls Only."

The company's founder, Esra Assery, admits it's a little sexist, and we both laugh at the joke in male-dominated Saudi Arabia — the only country that prohibits women from driving a car.

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3:48pm

Thu February 19, 2015
Parallels

Saudis Grow Increasingly Critical Of The Campaign Against ISIS

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 12:13 am

Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki al-Faisal, shown in 2013 in Bahrain, says the 'pinpricks' against the Islamic State have not been effective. The former intelligence chief also says the campaign needs to be better coordinated.
Mohammed Al-Shaikh AFP/Getty

The strategy against the self-declared Islamic State was on display this week: In Saudi Arabia, there were two days of closed-door military meetings, and in Washington, a White House summit on combating extremism.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced that training programs for Syrian rebels begins next month. So far, so good, in public.

But privately, the Saudi view is that the air campaign against ISIS, now more than six months old, is not working.

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