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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Parallels
3:06 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Saudi Arabia Ramps Up Training To Repel Homegrown Terrorists

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

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 7:07 pm

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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Parallels
2:58 am
Mon March 9, 2015

In Syria, Archaeologists Risk Their Lives To Protect Ancient Heritage

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

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 4:42 pm

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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Middle East
12:28 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 4:40 pm

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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Parallels
2:48 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Saudis Grow Increasingly Critical Of The Campaign Against ISIS

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

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 11:13 pm

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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Parallels
1:21 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

For The Saudis, A Smooth Succession At A Difficult Moment

Saudi Arabia's King Salman, who assumed the throne on Friday, is shown at the G20 conference in Brisbane, Australia, on Nov. 15, 2014, when he was the crown prince. His succession went smoothly, but the new monarch faces a region in turmoil.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 5:37 pm

For the sixth time since Saudi Arabia's founder, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, died in 1953, one of his sons has ascended to the throne, and it took place Friday without a hitch.

When King Abdullah died early Friday at age 90, his half-brother, Salman, was named the new monarch within an hour. There's also a new crown prince, Muqrin, who is the youngest surviving son of Abdulaziz and a relative youngster at 69.

The new King Salman quickly sent a message of stability and continuity. But the death of a Saudi monarch has brought the problems facing the country into sharper focus.

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Parallels
1:27 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

When Islamic Radicals Turn Moderate

Militants of the Islamic State stand with a captured Iraqi army Humvee outside Baiji oil refinery, north of Baghdad, in June 2014. While there is increased radicalization in many parts of the Arab world, there are also groups and individuals working to deradicalize young Muslim men.
AP

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 9:53 am

After last week's Paris shootings that targeted an irreverent political magazine and Jews in a kosher grocery store, there's been a flood of stories about the dangers of Muslim radicalization and how it happens.

What about people who go the other way, from extremist to moderate? These people exist; the U-turn happens.

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Middle East
4:06 am
Mon December 29, 2014

United Arab Emirates Shows Off Its Military Might

Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri, the first Emirati female fighter pilot, flew in the first UAE airstrikes in the American-led campaign against ISIS.
AP

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 2:30 pm

The United Arab Emirates has been building its military strength for decades, but in 2014 it came out in the open as an ambitious regional power — and one that's openly allied with the United States.

The tiny country, perched on a peninsula in the Persian Gulf, has a reputation for flashy displays — usually of wealth and commerce from shopping hub Dubai. But lately it has taken to showing off its military strength.

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Parallels
5:34 am
Sat December 27, 2014

With Each New Upheaval In Iraq, More Minorities Flee

An Iraqi Christian prays inside a shrine on the grounds of the Mazar Mar Eillia Catholic Church in Irbil, in northern Iraq. Irbil has become home to hundreds of Iraqi Christians who fled their homes as the Islamic State advanced earlier this year.
Matt Cardy Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 10:10 am

Northern Iraq is a lot more diverse than just Arabs and Kurds or Sunni and Shiite. For centuries, it has been home to multiple religious groups with ancient roots in the region.

But more than a decade of turmoil has driven many religious minorities out, with the most recent example being the onslaught of the self-proclaimed Islamic State militants, or ISIS.

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Parallels
9:40 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Kurds Put Their Independence Dreams On Hold

Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters arrive Saturday in Sinjar in northern Iraq, where they have made gains against the Islamic State. The Kurds were talking about independence this summer, but now appear focused on fighting the Islamic State.
Safin Hamed AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 5:42 pm

Soon after Kurdish peshmerga fighters broke a siege by Islamic State extremists around Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, Kurdish television reporters arrived to broadcast the riotous celebrations.

This was the largest gain by the Kurds against Islamist militants since August, when Islamic State fighters, also known as ISIS, threatened Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

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Iraq
6:47 am
Sat December 20, 2014

Kurdish Troops Free Yazidis, But Major Battles Remain

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 10:39 am

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Parallels
2:31 am
Thu December 18, 2014

At An Isolated Camp, Iraqi Police Prep For A Showdown With ISIS

More than 4,000 officers of the Nineveh province security force are based in an isolated training camp in northern Iraq. Their aim is retaking ISIS-controlled Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 11:31 am

When Mohammed Taha Yaseen recalls the day that Islamic militants swept through Iraq's northern city of Mosul this past summer, he chokes up.

"The army ran away," he says, and pauses to gain control of his voice. "We didn't run — the police stayed and fought ISIS."

Yaseen, an officer in the Mosul police force, tells his story at an isolated training camp in northern Iraq, less than 20 miles from the front lines with ISIS, also known as the Islamic State.

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Parallels
10:19 am
Wed December 17, 2014

A Tweet On Women's Veils, Followed By Raging Debate In Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian women wear their traditional face covering, the niqab, at a coffee and chocolate exhibition in the capital Riyadh on Monday. A prominent religious figure said on Twitter that the face veil is not mandatory, sparking a heated national debate.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 12:48 pm

The man at the eye of the storm in Saudi Arabia is Ahmad Aziz Al Ghamdi. He's a religious scholar, the former head of the religious police in Mecca, a group officially known as the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

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Parallels
3:58 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Facing Threats From ISIS And Iran, Gulf States Set To Join Forces

A member of the Saudi border guards mans a machine gun at the border with Iraq in July. Since the so-called Islamic State launched its offensive this summer in Iraq, Saudi Arabia has sent thousands of troops to the region.
Faisal Nasser Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 10:17 am

Alarmed over rising threats in the Middle East and North Africa, the Gulf Cooperation Council is set to launch an unprecedented joint military command, according to regional officials and military analysts.

"At the moment, we are witnessing a new spirit," says Abdulaziz Sager, head of the Gulf Research Center, a think tank that focuses on the GCC, a six-member group of Arab monarchies.

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The Two-Way
12:04 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Mall Murder Of American Teacher Stuns UAE, Where Violence Is Rare

Video footage shows a black-clad suspect at the mall in Abu Dhabi where Monday's stabbing took place.
YouTube

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 12:59 pm

The stabbing death of an American schoolteacher in a bathroom at an upscale mall in Abu Dhabi this week has shocked the United Arab Emirates, citizens and international residents alike. Violent crime is rare in the Emirates, a place where glitzy shopping centers are the hub of social life.

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Parallels
2:37 am
Thu December 4, 2014

A Syrian Entrepreneur Looks To Build The Amazon Of The Arab World

Ronaldo Mouchawar, a native of Syria, is the founder of Souq.com, which is now considered the leading e-commerce site in the region. He says his company, which is based in Dubai, reflects a quiet transformation that is taking places in parts of the Arab world.
Courtesy of Souq.com

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 8:11 pm

When Ronaldo Mouchawar was working in a Boston engineering firm he dreamed of moving back to the Arab world. Born and raised in Aleppo, Syria, he had come to the U.S. to study, then got a high-paying job, but he believed he "owed something" to his home region.

It turned out his ticket back was a smart idea at the right time.

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