Jane Arraf

Jane Arraf covers Egypt, Iraq, and other parts of the Middle East for NPR News.

Arraf joined NPR in 2017 after two decades of reporting from and about the region for CNN, NBC, the Christian Science Monitor, PBS Newshour, and Al Jazeera English. She has previously been posted to Baghdad, Amman, and Istanbul, along with Washington, DC, New York, and Montreal.

She has reported from Iraq since the 1990s. For several years, Arraf was the only Western journalist based in Baghdad. She reported on the war in Iraq in 2003 and covered live the battles for Fallujah, Najaf, Samarra, and Tel Afar. She has also covered India, Pakistan, Haiti, Bosnia, and Afghanistan and has done extensive magazine writing.

Arraf is a former Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Her awards include a Peabody for PBS NewsHour, an Overseas Press Club citation, and inclusion in a CNN Emmy.

Arraf studied journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa and began her career at Reuters.

In Baghdad's Qishla square, where the British crowned Iraq's first king almost a century ago, a young paramilitary fighter in a camouflage tent shows off a tabletop model of Iraq's recent battles against ISIS.

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Before the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Gen. Najm al-Jabouri would stand at the border crossing with Turkey and look longingly across the gate.

"As an officer, I had a dream to travel outside of Iraq," he says, sitting in a garden in Saddam Hussein's former palace complex in Mosul. "Sometimes I would go to Ibrahim Khalil gate just to see outside Iraq — to see whether the ground outside Iraq was different from inside Iraq."

In 2003, as U.S. forces entered Baghdad, Muqtada al-Sadr was a young Shiite Muslim cleric, little known to the American troops who toppled Saddam Hussein and ushered in a tumultuous new Iraq.

As liberation turned into occupation, Sadr, the son of a revered grand ayatollah killed for opposing Saddam, compiled a militia that presented such a serious challenge to American forces, the U.S. vowed to kill or capture him.

A couple of years later, his Mahdi Army was embroiled in Iraq's bitter sectarian war.

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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is set to coast to a sweeping victory in Egypt's third presidential elections since the 2011 revolution. For many Egyptians going to the polls starting Monday, it will be a vote of support for Sissi's hard-line rule five years after he led a military coup toppling the country's first democratically elected leader.

Egypt has a presidential election starting Monday, but the winner is almost certain already: Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. And tight restrictions limit discussion of other options.

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With elections next week almost certain to give Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi another term, the government has imposed tight restrictions on free speech. Reporters aren't supposed to ask people how they vote.

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At least 235 people have been killed in an attack on a mosque in Egypt's northern Sinai region. The Egyptian government has declared three days of mourning. NPR's Jane Arraf covers Egypt, and she joins us now. Hi, Jane.

JANE ARRAF, BYLINE: Hi, Noel.

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