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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Parallels
12:28 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Amid Violence, Iraq Fractures Again Along Religious Lines

An Iraqi child, whose family fled from Islamic State violence in the northern city of Mosul, stands outside a tent that serves as a school in the southern city of Najaf on Sunday. Some 2 million Iraqis have been driven from their homes by fighting this year.
Alaa Al-Marjani Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 4:06 pm

The shrine of Imam Ali in the Iraqi city of Najaf is a vast gold-domed edifice, where Shiite Muslims from all over the world gather to pray.

But just a few minutes drive away, are travelers of a different, shabbier kind. A long row of cinder block and sheet metal buildings is draped in bright flags with religious slogans. Usually, these are for pilgrims to sleep in. But right now, they're spilling over with displaced Iraqi families.

"It's tough for the children," says Zaira Raqib, a mother of four of them. "We know we're displaced, but they don't understand."

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Parallels
12:52 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Despite A Massacre By ISIS, An Iraqi Tribe Vows To Fight Back

Sunni tribesmen train on the outskirts of Ramadi, Iraq, on Nov. 16. Legislation authorizing a force of Sunni fighters drawn from Anbar province itself — modeled on the U.S. National Guard — has yet to be passed.
Ali al-Mashhadani Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 6:12 am

The massacre of the Albu Nimr tribe came after they had fought against the extremists of the so-called Islamic State for weeks. In Iraq's vast western province of Anbar, the tribesmen had been driven from their stronghold in the city of Hit in early October.

They clung on to one last outpost on the outskirts of the city for nearly two more weeks. The Albu Nimr are accustomed to fighting. They say they participated in two insurrections against Saddam Hussein and boast of their ancestors' roles in pushing out British colonial rule.

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Parallels
12:27 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Who's That Lebanese Man With A Beard: Hipster Or Jihadi?

Mazen Hariz, a bartender and business student in east Beirut, says it took him seven months to grow his beard.
Tim Fitzsimons for NPR

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 6:35 am

Mazen Hariz is well-groomed. A bartender and business student, he has fine features, limpid dark eyes and a long, shiny beard topped with a twirling mustache.

He tends to his appearance meticulously.

"My beard is like my girlfriend," he says during a cigarette break from a shift at the Kayan bar in east Beirut.

It took seven months to grow, and needs 30 minutes of attention every morning. First, hot water, then shampoo, conditioner, blowout and then sometimes straighteners. But not too often because that's not good for the beard.

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Iraq
2:57 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

We Are Not Slaughterers: An Iraqi Village Rejects Islamic Militants

Citizens of Dhuluiyah, Iraq, must take boats to get in an out, since one of the town's two bridges was blown up by the Islamic State and the other was commandeered by tribesmen defending them.
Ahmad Al-Rubaye AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 8:38 am

The only way for civilians to get to the town of Dhuluiya is by boat across the river Tigris, since the so-called Islamic State blew up the main bridge here and tribesmen battling them commandeered the other.

Steering through long reeds, we pull into a little dirt harbor. Here, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, is the home of a branch of the Jubbour tribe. They're a big Sunni group in this agricultural area and they want to tell me how they've halted the advance of the Islamic State.

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Parallels
1:39 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Facing The Islamic State Threat, Kurdish Fighters Unite

Three female members of Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and an Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighter stand near the front line in Makhmur, in northern Iraq, on Aug. 9. The Turkish and Iraqi Kurds have been fighting together against the Islamic State.
Safin Hamed AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 10:17 am

At a checkpoint outside the northern Iraq town of Makhmur, I saw something I'd never seen before in Iraq.

Two men were checking cars. One was young and wearing a sand-colored uniform of the official Iraqi Kurdish forces, called the peshmerga. The other was older, grizzled and dressed in an olive-green, traditional Kurdish overall, and he's with Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"We're happy to be working together," said the older man, Hajji Hussein Abdulrahman.

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Parallels
1:53 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Iraq's Abu Ghraib Is Back In The News, Now As A Front-Line Town

Iraqi policemen patrol Abu Ghraib, 25 miles west of Baghdad, in June. Islamic State militants have captured many cities and town in western Iraq this year. The government still controls Abu Ghraib, but the militants are nearby and local tribes are also restive.
Karim Kadim AP

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 7:23 am

To get to Abu Ghraib, I hitch a ride with an Iraqi military patrol. We start in Baghdad, where the convoy of battered Humvees weaves through heavy traffic. But as we head out west of the capital, the roads empty and we hardly see any civilian cars.

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Parallels
12:16 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Ambushes, Mines And Booby Traps: ISIS Militants Change Tack

Peshmerga look out from a front-line outpost — a few sandbags, soldiers, and grenades perched on the brow of a hill — to the eastern Iraqi town of Jalula. The Kurdish fighters are grappling with how to combat changing ISIS tactics.
Alice Fordham NPR

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 4:01 am

At a front-line outpost — a few sandbags, soldiers and grenades perched on the brow of a hill — the Iraqi Kurdish soldiers known as Peshmerga are looking out toward the eastern Iraqi town of Jalula, maybe three miles away.

A few months ago, the so-called Islamic State seized Jalula. The Peshmerga took it back, but now the militants have retaken it. The soldiers catch sight of three vehicles belonging to the Islamic State rolling toward the outpost.

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Parallels
1:59 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Kurds Leave Life In Europe To Fight ISIS In Their Iraqi Homeland

Aza Betwata (left) and his brother Mirwan (center) left Holland to join the Kurdish peshmerga fighting against ISIS militants in northern Iraq. Though the brothers come from a family of fighters, Aza had just two days of training — his brother must show him how to strip and clean his rifle.
Alice Fordham NPR

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 6:33 am

The men of the Betwata tribe gather to drink tea every morning in Irbil, Iraq, in an outdoor courtyard with curving pillars and climbing plants.

In northern Iraq, almost everyone is ethnically Kurdish, and most of them wear a traditional Kurdish baggy blue suit with a colored sash, and a black-and-white headdress. And they all talk about the war.

One of the men — Sarhad Betwata — is a general. The grizzled officer says he commands about 1,000 men and later this morning will head off from Irbil to the front lines against the Islamic State, close to the Syrian border.

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Cities Project
12:23 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Ghosts Of The Past Still Echo In Beirut's Fragmented Neighborhoods

Lebanon's parliament sits in Beirut's rebuilt Nejmeh Square, near the center of the city. Unlike many of Beirut's neighborhoods, the square is often mostly empty.
Tim Fitzsimons NPR

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 12:26 pm

The heart of downtown Beirut is an elegant area, fringed with expensive buildings. But on a beautiful sunny day, you may not find anyone there — there's no cafe, no park, no place for people to hang out.

Even though the Lebanese capital is a bustling and even glamorous place, the heart of Beirut is empty.

That's because the ghosts of this otherwise vibrant city's past still play out in Beirut's neighborhoods. Decades after Lebanon's civil war in the 1980s, those divides still carve up the city and help determine who lives where and who interacts with whom.

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Parallels
1:43 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Iraq's Artists Defy Extremists With Bows, Brushes And A Low Profile

The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra performs in Baghdad. The concert was promoted by word of mouth to avoid being targeted by bombs.
Graham Smith NPR

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 6:27 am

It's a hot night in Baghdad, and the national theater is packed with people who are here to see the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra.

They're fanning themselves with programs that show conductor Karim Wasfi, a striking man with thick eyebrows and a pointed beard, playing the cello. Tonight, he'll be conducting for the first time in more than a year.

Iraq has been in the headlines lately, with extremists taking over parts of the country, American airstrikes, the militias and the politics.

But the country was once a sophisticated center for learning and the arts.

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