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.

"Can you imagine?" Iraqi archaeologist Lamia al-Gailani was fond of saying, her voice rising in delight.

It was often about some item showing the ingenuity of Sumerian civilization, like a scythe made of clay the last time I toured the National Museum of Iraq with her, last spring.

I'd known Gailani since the 1990s. She was one of a generation of women — accomplished, unconventional and entirely original — who first drew me to Iraq.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Baghdad today. He is touring the Middle East to reassure allies amid shifting U.S. declarations of its plans for Syria. NPR's Jane Arraf joins us from Baghdad. Hi there, Jane.

JANE ARRAF, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

It had been years since anyone had seen an American military commander walking around the streets of downtown Baghdad.

So when Marine Brig. Gen. Austin Renforth went with his Iraqi counterpart for a tour of the city's most crowded neighborhoods on Friday, it wasn't clear what kind of reception he would get.

Sixteen years after the United States and its coalition partners invaded Iraq, most Iraqis still blame the U.S. for disbanding the Iraqi army and for the security vacuum and devastating civil war that followed.

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Naser al-Shimary is waiting at the arrivals gate at Baghdad's international airport. He says he's so nervous his "heart is skipping beats."

"Last time I held my wife and son was May 2017," says Shimary, 29, speaking English with an American accent. "That was the last time I got to kiss them and hold them."

Mohaned Ahmed is standing on scaffolding at the ancient site of Babylon, dipping water into a bucket and sponging the bricks around a stone relief showing a dragon with a serpent's head.

The image is so well defined it looks as if it might have been made yesterday instead of more than 2,000 years ago. But below it, the bricks and mortar of one of the ancient world's grandest cities are disintegrating.

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