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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Middle East
7:02 am
Sun August 17, 2014

Another Front In Mideast Conflict: Fishing Rights In The Mediterranean

When boats come in to the Gaza city harbor, the fish are small and few. An Israeli blockade keeps Gazan boats within 3 nautical miles from shore, where there are few fish to catch.
Alice Fordham NPR

Originally published on Sun August 17, 2014 10:39 am

Down at the Gaza city harbor, a little after dawn, merchants wait with horses and carts and scales to weigh the morning's catch of fish.

But when they come in, the fish are small and few. One man scoops his catch up by the handful, tiny fish slipping through his fingers. Even the cats look hungry.

One of the merchants, Mohammad Belah, tells me that a few years ago, it wasn't like this.

"A fisherman used to bring 100 or 200 boxes in the past, but now if he's lucky he brings 10 or 20 boxes," he says.

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Parallels
3:55 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Gaza Students Wonder When Their Schools Will Reopen

Displaced Palestinian Emada Al Attar, 23, holds her 16 day-old baby boy Anous in a classroom where they sleep in a U.N. school where the family is taking refuge during the war, in Gaza City, Gaza Strip on Aug. 8.
Lefteris Pitarakis AP

Originally published on Fri August 15, 2014 7:02 pm

There's clamor and hustle outside the Western Gaza City Educational Directorate. A month late, this year's graduating high school students are getting their high school diplomas.

Usually, there's a little ceremony. But today, they're just clustering around a window while the certificates are handed out. So many education workers are injured or have lost homes that only about a third of them showed up for work.

Nonetheless, the students' joy feels loud and luminous in a city numbed by war.

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Iraq
3:23 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Introducing Iraq's New Appointee For Prime Minister

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 8:14 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Parallels
3:40 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Gaza's Casualties Of War Include Its Historic Mosques

The Omari mosque was badly damaged in the recent fighting in the territory. In the foreground are the remains of Qurans at the mosque, which dates back centuries.
Alice Fordham NPR

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 9:44 am

Because of the debris, you can't go through the door anymore to get into the Omari mosque. You have to climb over a pile of rubble and through a hole in the wall, followed by a surging crowd of kids.

The ceiling of the low building in the Jabaliya area, near Gaza City, is made of vaulted stone arches – except where the sunlight comes streaming through a hole torn in the roof and lands on a pile of ripped-up pages of Arabic calligraphy. It's what remains of the mosque's Qurans. Most were destroyed; some burned. It took Gazans three days to dig out the remains.

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Parallels
4:35 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

The Man Who Might Be Iraq's Next Prime Minister

Iraqi lawmaker Haidar al-Abadi, shown here in 2010, was appointed Monday to become Iraq's prime minister. However, Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister since 2006, has so far refused to step down.
Karim Kadim AP

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 5:33 pm

Haider al-Abadi is an affable Shiite politician who has been close to the center of power in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. He may soon be the most important political figure in the troubled country.

Iraqi President Fuad Masum, whose position has traditionally been ceremonial, on Monday nominated Abadi to be prime minister, a job that requires him to form a new coalition government based on parliamentary elections that were held in April.

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Middle East
6:51 am
Sat August 9, 2014

Without A Truce, Strikes Resume In Gaza

Originally published on Sat August 9, 2014 10:40 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Middle East
3:05 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

As Cease-Fire Reaches Its Close, Fire Reignites In Gaza

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 5:57 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Middle East
3:19 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

With Gazans' Eyes On Cairo, Hamas Hopes For Leverage

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 6:43 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Iraq
4:00 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Militants In Iraq Seek Control Of Precious Weapon: Dams, Waterways

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Mughdeed talks to the men he commands to protect the Mosul dam, a critical piece of infrastructure that supplies water and electricity. The dam is now close to the front line with the militants of the Islamic State in Iraq.
Alice Fordham NPR

Originally published on Sat August 2, 2014 5:41 am

In the searing heat of northern Iraq, among its dry, scrubby landscape, there's a surreal sight: a wide, shimmering blue lake, held back by the concrete and steel of a dam. It's on the Tigris River, near the city of Mosul.

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Mughdeed, the commander of the soldiers guarding this dam, says even a small attack on the dam could have major repercussions: flooding, power cuts.

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Parallels
5:11 am
Tue July 29, 2014

For Iraqis In Crisis, Dividing The Country Seems A Poor Solution

A volunteer at a Christian church in Qosh, Iraq, loads aid onto a handcart Monday for delivery to displaced Shiites who are sheltering there.
Alice Fordham NPR

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 6:35 am

The muscular farmer sits in the basement kindergarten of the church, perched on a tiny chair intended for a child. He and his family are spending the holiday here, after being forced to flee from extremists.

"Our village is more than 300 years old," Ahmed Ali says of Shreikhan, near Mosul, "and we never had any such problems."

For most Muslims around the world, Eid is a time for gifts, feasts and visiting relatives. But for him and others in a militant-controlled swath of northwest Iraq, it's a strange and unhappy holiday.

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Middle East
3:35 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

For Islamic State, Victories In Iraq Mean Momentum In Syria

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 6:40 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Parallels
11:55 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Syrian President Issues New Stamps, But Can't Deliver The Mail

One of the three stamps issued recently to commemorate Syrian leader Bashar Assad's presidential election victory.
Via Syrian Arab News Agency

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 3:06 pm

As the Middle East froths with blood — from Iraq to Syria to the Gaza Strip — a commemorative set of three stamps depicting Syrian President Bashar Assad may not seem hugely relevant.

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Iraq
3:44 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Amid Bloodshed, Brotherhood: Links Forged From Iraq's Game Of Rings

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 9:39 pm

In Iraq, a Ramadan game called Mheibbis brings even Sunnis and Shiites together in peaceful competition. A ring game traditionally played between neighborhoods during the holy month, Mheibbis has offered men the opportunity to break Baghdad's tension and offer messages of unity and brotherhood — even between rival sects.

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Iraq
6:55 am
Sun July 6, 2014

Iraqi Lawmakers Fail To Reach Deal On A New Government

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 11:50 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Iraq is looking more and more like a country being divided into three parts. Hard-core Sunni militants have taken much of the west. Well-organized Kurdish soldiers have grabbed the north. And everywhere else, Shiites are mustering sectarian militia. Thousands of Iraqis have been killed in just the last month. NPR's Alice Fordham reports there are a lot of ideas for helping the Iraqis, but the country's newly elected politicians are not exactly rushing to address the situation.

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Iraq
3:10 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Iraqi Parliament, And Maliki's Fate, Float In Limbo

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 6:37 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. With Iraq in crisis under the onslaught of Sunni extremists, the country's government is unable to pull together. A meeting of the Iraqi parliament fell apart today, and the issues before the body are critical for the government to function. The parliament was elected back in April, but members still have yet to agree on a speaker, a president and a prime minister. NPR's Alice Fordham is in Baghdad.

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Parallels
4:53 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Angry At Shiite-Led Government, Sunnis Are Loath To Help Calm Iraq

A leading Sunni tribal chief, Sheik Abu Ali al-Jubbouri says he misses former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who favored his sect.
Hussein Malla AP

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 8:30 pm

Iraq is looking increasingly like a state partitioned along sectarian lines. Shiites control the south, but Sunni militants are sweeping through the north and west — and they're doing it with help from local Sunni populations.

Interviews with Sunni leaders show how hard it will be to build the kind of trust needed to put the country back together under one functioning authority.

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Iraq
3:07 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Maliki's Power Base Crumbles As Iraq Slips Into Chaos

Will Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki be able to unite Iraq's various factions, or will he be forced out?
Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 7:18 pm

Tens of thousands of Iraqi men brandishing assorted weapons are responding to a call to arms. They invoke the Mahdi, a figure from Shiite Muslim prophecies, as they march in a recent parade in Sadr City, a Shiite suburb of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.

"We volunteer to protect our dear country," says Hazem al-Shemmari.

When Sunni militants took over parts of Iraq this month, Shiite religious leaders called for volunteers to fight back.

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Iraq
3:11 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Even Amid Onslaught, Hints That Violence In Iraq Could Escalate

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 5:23 pm

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Middle East
5:08 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Iraq's Army Is Ineffective Against Islamist Insurgents

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 8:30 am

There are reports of Iraqi government troops just fleeing, dropping their weapons and shedding their uniforms. The U.S. spent a lot of time and money training Iraqi forces.

Iraq
4:22 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Islamist Militants Gain Ground In Northern Iraq

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 6:41 am

Sunni Islamist militants have seized control of the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit and appear to be preparing an assault on Baghdad. Americans fought and died trying to prevent that from happening.

Iraq
3:00 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Half A Million Iraqis Flee As Militants Move South

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 5:24 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. In Iraq, swaths of the country of fallen to Islamist militants. They took the largest city of Mosul earlier this week. Now they're heading south. Today there are reports the militants have taken the city of Tikrit, an hour's drive from the capital, Baghdad. NPR's Alice Fordham has the latest.

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Iraq
5:40 am
Wed June 11, 2014

In Iraq, Mosul Falls To Insurgent Group

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 6:46 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

There are dramatic developments in Iraq where an extremist group, that's taken over large parts of Syria, has stormed into the major Iraqi city of Mosul. Leaders there are saying that this Al Qaeda offshoot, which is called the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria, may even be pushing south in the direction of Baghdad. NPR's Alice Fordham joins us now from northern Iraq for more. And tell us, what exactly the situation is there, in Mosul.

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Iraq
3:13 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Key Iraqi City Falls To Islamist Militants

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 7:30 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

I'm Audie Cornish, and we begin the hour with the threat of a de facto Islamist state stretching across parts of Iraq and Syria. The Iraqi government has now lost control of one of its biggest cities, Mosul, to extremist Sunni militants. The group is known as ISIS, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. ISIS has been rejected as too extreme, even by some leaders of al-Qaida.

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Middle East
3:08 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

As Polls Close, Many Syrians Fear The Days To Come

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 7:03 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Syria's highly questionable, and carefully choreographed, election leaves many people concerned about how it may embolden President Bashar al-Assad. NPR's Alice Fordham has been talking with people inside Syria and in neighboring Beirut.

ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: At the end of the day, Assad will be able to show that there were many Syrians who vote for him because they want to or because he made them. It's a demonstration of power, either way.

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Middle East
11:47 am
Sun June 1, 2014

What Elections? Syrian Opposition Rejects Assad's Expected Win

A mock election poster depicts Syrian President Bashar Assad as Mafia boss Don Corleone, with token candidates kissing his hand.
Ahmed Jalal/Kafranbel Syrian Revolution

Originally published on Sun June 1, 2014 1:02 pm

Tuesday's elections in Syria are sure to result in another term for President Bashar Assad, even as the international community says his regime is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.

The opposition is railing against his inevitable triumph.

At a demonstration Friday by some of the 1 million Syrians who have fled into neighboring Lebanon, the view on the election was clear.

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Middle East
3:21 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Force And Fear In The Air, As Syrian Refugees Go To Polls In Lebanon

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 3:02 pm

Syrian refugees in Lebanon are casting their votes ahead of Syria's presidential election next week. The election is seen as Bashar Assad's rigged bid for legitimacy — but many refugees believe that if they don't vote, they'll never be allowed back home.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Parallels
2:15 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Smugglers Thrive On Syria's Chaos, Looting Cultural Treasures

A Syrian policeman patrols the ancient oasis city of Palmyra in March. Many Syrian antiquities have been looted and smuggled out of the country during the past three years of civil war.
Joseph Eid AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 8:53 am

Smuggling is a way of life in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, just over the border from Syria. Driving along it, you see pale smugglers' trails snaking through mountain passes, and the guys who run touristy little antiques stores here say they can get you anything.

"Everything that have traditions and everything found in old houses," says Reda Ismail, who runs one of the many stores in the valley. Dealers say most things here are smuggled from Syria, and Ismail thinks these days it's more prevalent.

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Parallels
2:28 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Beirut's Holiday Inn: Once Chic, Then Battered, Still Contested

The Beirut Holiday Inn rises behind the man who built it, Abdal Mohsin Kattan, in 1975. The Holiday Inn was one of the leading hotels in Beirut at a time when it was the most glamorous city in the Middle East. But when the Lebanese civil war broke out in 1975, the hotel was fiercely contested by rival militias. Lebanese are still debating what to do with the building.
Thomas J. Abercrombie National Geographic/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 4:13 pm

To check into Beirut's Holiday Inn these days, you need a permit from the army and the stamina to climb 26 flights of decaying stairs to the concrete carcass of a restaurant at the top that used to rotate.

This towering edifice may not look it today, but it was once the toast of Beirut, the most glamorous city in the Middle East before the 1975-'90 civil war turned the Lebanese capital into a byword for urban dystopia.

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Parallels
2:11 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Iraq Debates Law That Would Allow Men To Marry 9-Year-Old Girls

An Iraqi schoolgirl passes a banner supporting a proposal that, among other things, would allow men to marry girls as young as 9. Opponents say it would mark a major setback for women and children. The Arabic on the banner reads: "The Jaafari Personal Status Law saves my rights and my dignity."
Karim Kadim AP

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 6:26 pm

A stroll through the Baghdad Book Fair last month was a lesson in today's cultural norms in Iraq. The books — gold-embossed, neatly arrayed — were almost all religious, and most of the customers were men.

But in the middle of the white pavilion, a woman's voice rang out loud and strong. Fawzia al-Babakhan, a lawyer, delivered a blistering critique of a proposed law that would rewrite the rules for matters such as marriage and inheritance according to Shiite Islamic law.

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World
3:30 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

Syrian Rebels Cede Stronghold After Over A Year Under Siege

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 8:59 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

There's a development today in Syria's civil war. Syrian rebels surrendered control of an important piece of ground, the city of Homs. That's been the heart of uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Hundreds of rebel fighters abandoned the city's central district. They left in rickety green buses, escorted by the United Nations. The rebels had been under siege and were running out of ammunition and food.

For more on the story, we're joined by NPR's Alice Fordham. She's in Beirut.

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