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.

In Syria's capital, Damascus, the Hamidiyah souk is a landmark — a centuries-old covered market linked to a maze of alleyways in the heart of the capital. Over the 15-month uprising, Syria's merchants have supported the regime of President Bashar Assad. But that support is crumbling.

Shops selling everything from cold drinks, ice cream and spices to wedding dresses and electric guitars line Hamidiyah's cobblestone streets.

The uprising in Syria began in the spring of 2011 when rebellious teenagers scrawled anti-regime graffiti on a wall in the southern city of Daraa.

The protest against their arrest, and the regime's brutal response, sparked the wider revolt. Throughout the unrest, the country's younger generation has been at the forefront of efforts to end the repressive regime of President Bashar Assad.

At a cafe in the heart of Damascus recently, a young man flips open his cellphone to show pictures of people killed in the uprising.

"Actually, they are my friends," he says.

In Damascus, Syrians now openly speak their minds, but often won't offer a name for the record.

The "wall of fear" is crumbling even in the capital, where the security police have the heaviest presence. Syrians have lived under surveillance and emergency law for years, but after 15 months of anti-government protest and a brutal response by the regime, the killings have changed people.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

The opposition in Syria is increasingly taking up arms. They've been devastated by months of assaults by government troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad

WERTHEIMER: The army offensive to crush the rebels has been so ferocious that a U.N. monitoring mission was suspended. But we're about to hear the sounds of the rebels fighting back.

Syria has expelled an Italian Jesuit priest for his outspoken criticism of the government's crackdown on a popular uprising. The Rev. Paolo Dall'Oglio has lived in Syria for 30 years, helping to restore a 1,000-year-old monastery that became a center for Muslim and Christian understanding.

Dall'Oglio's departure from Damascus on Saturday was sudden. More than a year ago, the government ordered him out, but a campaign on Facebook — "No to the Exile of Father Paolo" — delayed his expulsion.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

After a week of escalating violence in Syria, the chief U.N. official there in the country said today that efforts to resolve the conflict have had little effect. It was a bleak assessment from the man leading the United Nations observer mission for the past six months. NPR's Deborah Amos joins us from Damascus, where she has been out with observers assessing the situation.

And Deb, what was the message today from Major General Robert Mood?

Syrian activists have posted thousands of videos of civilians killed and wounded in the 15-month-old conflict. But there have been many casualties on the government side as well, and they are on display at a military hospital in the capital, Damascus.

For Abdul Kareem Mustapha, a 51-year-old colonel in the Syrian army, the war came for him at 8:15 a.m. on his way to his military post.

The fighting in Syria escalated again on Monday as the Syrian army pounded the central cities of Homs and Hama, two places that have been the scene of repeated clashes.

U.N. monitors confirmed mortar fire, heavy artillery and machine gun fire in the assaults. A live streaming video from Homs showed billowing smoke from explosions and the rattle of gunfire.

Activists in Homs say more than 50 people have died, and they called for immediate assistance for the scores of wounded who, they say, are being treated by paramedic and medial students.

NPR correspondent Deborah Amos joined U.N. monitors and a small group of journalists Friday who were able to enter the Syrian village of Mazraat al-Qubair, where 78 people, including women and children, were killed on Wednesday by pro-government forces, according to opposition activists.

NPR's Deborah Amos has been covering the uprising in Syria since it began more than a year ago. Like other foreign reporters, she has had to cover much of the conflict from afar because the Syrian government has only rarely granted visas. She has just returned to Syria for the first time since last fall and sent this dispatch:

Syria's foremost proponent of nonviolent protest says he's returning to Damascus this week and will keep delivering his long-standing message despite the country's worsening bloodshed.

Sheik Jawdat Said is an 81-year-old Islamic scholar whose books and teachings helped inspire young Syrian activists to challenge the regime in peaceful protests last year.

President Bashar Assad's regime has launched a new and sweeping arrest campaign of opposition activists and intellectuals in the past few weeks, according to Western analysts and diplomats.

The growing tally of arrests has gone largely unnoticed, overshadowed by the daily violence that threatens to jeopardize the U.N. peace plan. But in combination, both are undermining the already faint hopes of peace.

In the final scenes of the classic film Lawrence of Arabia, the Arab rebel fighters are wrapped up with internal, petty squabbles in Damascus as the great powers maneuver for the future of Syria.

Now, nearly a century after the events depicted in that movie, there's a similar Lawrence of Arabia moment playing out in Syria.

The yearlong tumult of the Arab Spring has reached all the way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

A stunning and timely new show, "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition," covers exactly the places caught up in modern day revolts, and many of the developments from more than a millennium ago are closely linked to the events of today.

A year into the Syrian uprising, with the world community reluctant to intervene, one international group has taken a direct and risky role in Syria — even taking part in the high-profile rescue of Western journalists from the besieged city of Homs.

Avaaz, a global online pressure group based in New York, has given crucial support to the uprising and the Syrian activist networks that aim to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Journalists don't talk about the danger. They don't usually recount the moments of agonizing terror that come after a bad decision to continue on down the road as the faint sound of mortar shells grows louder.

If you're looking for the reasons for unrest in Morocco, you can find some answers while zipping along in a golf cart at a resort in the historic town of Marrakech.

Syria's protest generation is obsessed with images.

Thousands of videos have been posted on YouTube during the 10-month revolt against President Bashar Assad's regime, even as regime snipers take deadly aim at the photographers.

The smugglers who carry critical medical supplies to underground clinics in protest cities also smuggle in cameras hidden in baseball caps and pocket pens. The obsession comes from the conviction that documenting the brutality will stop it — this time.

It is rush hour in Rabat, the Moroccan capital, and time for the march of unemployed college graduates.

They are part of a movement that has become a rite of passage. It's a path to a government career for a lucky few, even though it can take years.

"I have a degree, a master's degree in English, and I'm here ... idle without a job, without dignity, without anything," protester Abdul Rahim Momneh says.

An Islamist party heads Morocco's newly elected government, part of a wave of Islamist election victories following uprisings across North Africa.

But Morocco's case is a bit different. King Mohammed VI responded quickly to a pro-democracy movement last year with a new constitution and snap elections. The Justice and Development Party, known as the PJD, won the most votes in November. Now, Moroccans ask: How will this popular Islamist party govern?

When a pro-democracy movement took to the streets of Morocco last February, King Mohammed VI, who has been on the throne for more than decade, responded swiftly.

Within weeks, the king had proposed a new constitution and snap elections. The Moroccan example of reforms without violence was hailed by some as a model.

The Arab uprisings have ousted or weakened some American allies. Elections in Tunisia and Egypt have shown the strength of Islamist political parties. And after the long, hard war in Iraq, the U.S. appears to have a diminished appetite for new, complicated undertakings in the region. In the last of our six-part series on the upheavals changing the Middle East, NPR's Deborah Amos looks at what it all means for America.

Morocco has been called one of the winners of the Arab Spring. The country's young king, Mohammed VI, offered a new constitution and early elections, taking the steam out of a protest movement that rose up last February.

But the arrest and trial of an artist who writes provocative rap songs show that there seem to be limits to the reforms.

The rap songs of 24-year-old Mouad Belrhouate are popular in Morocco, even more so after the four months he has spent in jail.

For the past 10 months, Syrians have taken to the streets in large numbers to oppose a repressive regime that has not hesitated to use force. The United Nations estimates more than 5,000 Syrians have died, and it is far from clear how the uprising will play out. President Bashar Assad's regime blames the revolt on Islamist militants and casts the uprising as a threat to Syria's minorities, including Assad's fellow Alawites and the country's Christians.

Despite the presence of an Arab League monitoring mission, Syrian security forces shot dead at least 40 protesters on Thursday, according to activists.

Arab League monitors visited the central city of Homs, an opposition stronghold, besieged and under bombardment by the Syrian army until the monitors showed up. Syrian army armor was withdrawn from the city streets ahead of the visit, but activists say they expect a resumption of the army offensive as soon as the monitors leave. They also complain that they have not been allowed to meet with the Arab League team.

The Arab League is formally launching its monitoring mission in Syria Tuesday. It's not certain they'll get to the central city of Homs, an opposition stronghold under siege by the Syrian army. There, doctors are forced to treat injured anti-government protesters in an underground network.

The Arab League has a reputation for being long on rhetoric and short on action. That's why it was so surprising when Arab ministers approved an unprecedented package of sanctions against Syria at the end of November.

But the unity that produced that vote is falling apart, and a meeting in Cairo to set the terms of the sanctions was suspended indefinitely.

Srdja Popovic, a lanky biologist from Belgrade, helped overthrow a dictator in Serbia a decade ago. Since then, he's been teaching others what he learned, and his proteges include a host of Arab activists who have played key roles in ousting Arab autocrats over the past year.

"This is a bad year for bad guys," Popovic says with a broad grin in a New York cafe.

In a matter of months, Turkey has gone from one of Syria's strongest allies to one of its sharpest critics as the uprising in Syria has been met with a harsh crackdown by President Bashar Assad.

Turkey has become a haven for Syrian refugees, a base for Syrian army defectors and a home for Syria's main political opposition group. And on Friday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was in Turkey for talks that included the deteriorating conditions in Syria.

On the streets of Istanbul, Akram Asaf, a 31-year-old lawyer who fled Syria, says he feels safe, but not yet free.

Pages