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 Transom.org.

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.

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4:00am

Mon December 19, 2011
Iraq

Former Child Soldier In Sudan Helps U.S. Exit Iraq

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 7:20 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

It's not clear how the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il will affect nuclear talks. Just ahead, we'll explore the concerns about the power transition in the secretive communist state.

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7:43am

Sun December 18, 2011
Leaving Iraq

Time To 'Heal' As U.S. Troops Leave Iraq

The "end of days," as soldiers were calling it, started at Contingency Operating Base Adder in southern Iraq. The base was the main staging ground for all U.S. troops exiting the country, and it was the last U.S. base to close.

There were a lot of lasts at COB Adder: the last signing ceremony, formally handing the last base over to the Iraqi government, the last briefing, the last patrol, the last hot meal.

The final convoy from the base left Iraq and crossed the border into Kuwait at dawn Sunday.

A 'Difficult Undertaking'

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6:35am

Sat December 17, 2011
Leaving Iraq

Internally Displaced Iraqis Struggle For Permanency

Originally published on Sat December 17, 2011 1:39 pm

Makeshift houses in Baghdad are the only homes some internally displaced Iraqis know. Many are too afraid to go back to their original homes; for them, the threat of being targeted is still very real.
Mohammed Ameen Reuters /Landov

Nadia Karim Hassan says she stayed in her Baghdad neighborhood as long as she could, but by the height of the sectarian war in 2007, too many fellow Shiites were getting killed, and she had to leave the area and move into an abandoned building.

As American troops pull out of Iraq, one of the most striking consequences of the war remains unresolved today: the issue of people who were forced out of their homes and still can't go back. Relief organizations estimate there are some 2 million displaced people inside Iraq.

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5:28pm

Thu December 15, 2011
Leaving Iraq

U.S. Flag Comes Down, And Iraq War Is Officially Over

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 8:22 pm

A U.S. convoy departs from Contingency Operating Station Kalsu, a U.S. base about 60 miles south of Baghdad. For many U.S. troops, it is the last stop in Iraq on the way out of the country.
Sean Carberry NPR

After nearly nine years of war in Iraq, a subdued flag-lowering ceremony in Baghdad on Thursday marked the official end of one of the longest U.S. military missions in American history.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta watched over what's known as the casing of the colors — when the U.S. military flag is put away and sent back to the United States. The flag will then be retired and perhaps later go on display at the Pentagon.

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3:39pm

Wed December 14, 2011
Iraq

How Much Influence Will Iran Have In Iraq?

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 9:36 am

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (left) shakes hands with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during an official meeting in Tehran last year.
STR AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, a ceremony took place in Baghdad that was unthinkable under Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein: Ashura, the annual Shiite ritual marking the slaying of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and one of the most revered figures in Shiite Islam.

As the trumpets sounded in Baghdad's notorious Shiite slum of Sadr City, boys and men wearing white shrouds brought swords down onto their shaven heads. Thick red blood gushed onto their faces. Hussein sacrificed for us, the belief goes, and devoted followers are ready to sacrifice for him.

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12:01am

Wed December 14, 2011
Iraq

Tensions Feared As U.S. Leaves Disputed Iraqi City

Iraqi soldiers take part in a graduation parade in Kirkuk on Monday. The oil-rich city is a mix of Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and others. Its future status is a source of tension within Iraq.
Marwan Ibrahim AFP/Getty Images

As American troops leave Iraq, the one place in the country that's most likely to erupt into violence, at least in the short term, is the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

The city is a complicated ethnic mix of Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and others. The question of whether it belongs to the autonomous Kurdish region in the north or to the Arab-dominated central government of Baghdad has long been a point of contention.

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8:00am

Sun December 11, 2011
NPR Story

Iraq PM, Obama Get Together To Break Apart

Originally published on Sun December 11, 2011 9:58 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

Nearly nine years after the Iraq War began, the U.S. is winding down its involvement there. U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by December 31st. The Obama administration says what comes next will be a new phase in the relationship with Iraq. What that involves will most likely be part of the discussion when Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, heads to Washington to meet with President Obama tomorrow.

NPR's Kelly McEvers reports from Baghdad.

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4:09pm

Wed December 7, 2011
Middle East

A Brutal Detention, And A Defiant Syrian Activist

This summer, NPR told the story of a young man in Syria who worked a regular job by day and was a protester by night. At the end of that story, the activist made a prediction that was later tweeted to thousands of people: "One day my time is coming. Until the world realizes what's happening in Syria, they will try and get us all."

Many weeks later, his prediction came true.

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5:02am

Wed December 7, 2011
Middle East

On The Run, Under The Radar, With Syria's Rebels

Riad al-Asaad says he's the leader of the Free Syrian Army, a group of Syrian defectors who recently posted this video on the group's Facebook page.
Free Syrian Army AP

In Syria, the clashes between the opposition movement and the government's security forces are starting to look more and more like a civil war. Protests across the country still remain mostly peaceful, but soldiers who have defected are assembling a force called the Free Syrian Army, which has been launching attacks on government targets. NPR's Kelly McEvers recently met up with members of the Free Syrian Army when she crossed from Lebanon into Syria on a secret nighttime excursion.

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3:00pm

Wed November 23, 2011
Middle East

Report: Bahrain Used Excessive Force On Protesters

Originally published on Wed November 23, 2011 6:32 pm

Bahraini protesters run for cover after police fired tear gas canisters to disperse them during a demonstration in the village of Diraz, northwest of Bahrain, Feb. 14. A special commission issued a report Wednesday that found excessive force was used during a crackdown on an anti-government movement that began in February.
AFP/Getty Images

In the Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, a special commission accused the government of using excessive force against protesters during an anti-government uprising earlier this year.

The report released Wednesday was unusual in that it was requested by the government itself. But questions remain over what the government will do with the findings.

The commission that issued the report was a rare thing in the Arab world. At a gilded palace with chandeliers and red carpets, a panel of international jurists sat in judgment of a king.

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8:00am

Sat November 12, 2011
Middle East

Arab League Suspends Syria; Other Options Unclear

In an emergency meeting on Saturday, the Arab League voted to suspend Syria, warning that the country could face sanctions if it does not end its brutal crackdown on protestors. Meanwhile, NATO leaders say a Libya-style military intervention is out of the question. NPR's Kelly McEvers reports on what other choices remain.

4:33pm

Tue November 8, 2011
Middle East

Disappearances In Lebanon Haunt Syrian Activists

Syria's brutal repression of an anti-government movement that began in March continues — even outside its borders. In neighboring Lebanon, the disappearance of an elderly government critic underscores the long reach of the Syrian regime.

Until recently, 89-year-old Shibli al-Aisamy spent most of his time in the United States. As a founder of the pan-Arab Ba'ath Party in the 1960s, Aisamy had once served as a vice president of Syria. He later broke with then-Syrian President Hafez Assad, the father of the current president, Bashar Assad.

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3:00pm

Sun October 30, 2011
Middle East

Assad Warns Against Outside Intervention

Syrian President Bashar Assad warned of an "earthquake" if any outside forces intervened in his country. Meanwhile, protesters say dozens of people were killed in the last few days, making this one of the bloodiest weekends since the uprising began.

3:00pm

Fri October 21, 2011
NPR Story

How Do Iraqis Feel About The Troop Withdrawal?

How do Iraqis feel about the U.S. decision to withdraw all its remaining troops by the end of this year? The issue of a residual American force to train the Iraqi military was hotly debated in Baghdad.

3:00pm

Wed October 19, 2011
Middle East

Turkish Troops Stage Incursion Into Iraq

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: Turkish troops are in what Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is calling hot pursuit. They're chasing Kurdish rebels who ambushed and killed Turkish soldiers earlier today along Turkey's border with Iraq. Turkish and Iraqi media are reporting that these troops have crossed into Iraq to retaliate against the militants.

NPR's Kelly McEvers has the story from Baghdad.

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4:17pm

Thu September 1, 2011
Middle East

Syrian Official Quits, Cites Regime's Brutality

A screen grab of Syrian Attorney General, Anan Bakkor, during a video he made where he resigned from his post and revealed that he was forced to cover up deaths related to the popular uprising in the country.
YouTube

A Syrian official has released a YouTube video announcing his resignation and accusing President Bashar Assad's regime of killing dozens of unarmed protesters while they were in custody.

In the video, Adnan Mohammad al-Bakkour, the attorney general of the embattled central city of Hama, says he has detailed information on the deaths of scores of anti-government protesters on a single day.

The statement is one of the most detailed accounts of the government's crackdown since the Syrian uprising began in March.

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3:00pm

Tue August 30, 2011
NPR Story

In Syria, Homs Emerges As Center Of Protest Movement

Now that Hama has been crushed and demoralized, Homs is emerging as the center of anti-government activity in Syria, as protesters have taken up arms to conduct targeted operations against security forces and the army.

3:00pm

Fri August 26, 2011
Middle East

For A Night, Experiencing A Syrian Activist's Fear

In an image taken by a citizen journalist and provided by Shaam News Network, protesters in the Syrian village of Maaret Harma in Edlib province march against the regime of President Bashar Assad, Aug. 26. The government has banned most foreign journalists in the country and is continuing a brutal crackdown on anti-government activists.
Shaam News AP

During a recent trip to Syria, I managed to sneak away from my minders one night and spend an evening with a man in the capital, Damascus, who's an IT engineer by day and an activist by night.

I was able to see up close that protesting in Syria is not just a matter of raising your fist. It's a matter of life and death.

Let's start this story with how I was able to meet the activist.

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12:01am

Fri August 26, 2011
Middle East

Western Sanctions May Put Slow Squeeze On Syria

Syrian street vendors display their goods in downtown Damascus on Tuesday, Aug. 23. Syria's economy was hit hard initially by the anti-government uprising. It has bounced back, but now the U.S. is urging the E.U. to join in banning import of crude oil from Syria.
Joseph Eid AFP/Getty Images

The Syrian economy has so far weathered the mass protests and widespread violence that have rocked most every major city. But in a move that could increase the pressure, the European Union is considering a ban on imported Syrian oil, similar to sanctions the U.S. imposed earlier this month.

Western governments say the Syrian regime's harsh response to an anti-government uprising has demonstrated that it is not fit to lead.

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5:01pm

Mon August 22, 2011
Middle East

A Controlled Glimpse Of A Restive Syrian Town

Syrian soldiers shout slogans in support of President Bashar Assad Aug. 10 as they withdraw from the city of Hama after a 10-day military operation to quell pro-democracy protests. This photo was taken during a government-guided tour.
AFP/Getty Images

NPR's Kelly McEvers is in Syria on a tour organized by a youth group aligned with the government of President Bashar Assad. Most foreign journalists are barred from entering the country otherwise. The tour's theme is "Syria Is Fine." Most of the reporters are from countries that have a history of supporting the Syrian regime — Russia and Iran among them. McEvers is the only American reporter in the group, which also includes some European journalists.

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4:46pm

Fri August 19, 2011
Middle East

Syria's Crackdown Provokes Sharp Debate

In a photo taken during a guided government tour, Syrian soldiers raise their weapons while holding a picture of President Bashar Assad as they leave the eastern city of Deir al-Zour on Aug. 16, following a 10-day military operation.
- AFP/Getty Images

Over the past five months, the Syrian military has repeatedly used tanks and heavy weaponry on cities and towns that are centers of protest.

As has been the case most every Friday since March, demonstrators turned out in huge numbers after the midday prayers, and there was more violence. Activists said that Syrian security forces fired at protesters across the country, reportedly killing at least 20.

Assessing whether this Syrian strategy is working depends on who you ask — and what version of the military crackdown in Syria you accept.

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12:01am

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.
SANA AP

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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4:04pm

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.
YouTube

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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6:36am

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.
KARIM SAHIB AFP/Getty Images

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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5:03pm

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.

7:33am

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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4:00am

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.

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