CAIRO – Zeina Karam, who has reported on political upheaval, war and transformation in the Middle East for almost two decades, has been named as Beirut bureau chief for The Associated Press, leading coverage of Lebanon as well as the devastating conflict in Syria.
The appointment was announced on Tuesday by Ian Phillips, AP's Middle East news director, and Dan Perry, who heads AP's text coverage of the region.
Karam, 41, replaces Elizabeth Kennedy, who is now South Asia news director, based in New Delhi.
"Zeina was one of the first reporters to get into Syria after Arab Spring protests in 2011 — and her knowledge of the country will continue to enrich AP's report," said Phillips. "As a native of Lebanon, she is also keenly aware of the effects the Syrian war is having on its troubled neighbor."
A native of Lebanon, Karam takes up her new role at a crucial time for the region, largely because of an increasingly bloody civil war that threatens to destabilize neighboring countries and the growing influence of Islamic extremists in the country.
Karam joined the AP in Beirut in 1996 when the country was still reeling from the bloody 15-year civil war that ended in 1990. She has reported from more than a dozen countries including Egypt, Algeria, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.
From Lebanon, she reported on the country's economic and political recovery and repeated conflicts with Israel, including the monthlong Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006. She was one of the few reporters who interviewed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah before he went into hiding.
Karam also wrote extensively on the political and security upheaval following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri leading up to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country in April 2005 and the current turmoil resulting from the conflict in Syria and the influx of over a million Syrian refugees.
Over the years, Karam spent significant time in Syria, writing in-depth, distinctive reports and breaking news, including the death of Syrian President Hafez Assad, Bashar Assad's ascendency to power and Syria's transformation under Bashar Assad.
Karam was evicted from Syria during the Arab Spring protests as authorities clamped down on foreign journalists. She returned to Damascus in February 2012 to report on how the fighting had transformed the city. She also covered the first direct peace talks in Geneva earlier this year.
Karam was appointed acting Beirut bureau chief in January 2013.
A native of Beirut, Lebanon, Karam graduated from the American University of Beirut in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in political science and public administration.