The following excerpt was sent out from The Associated Press’s VP and head of global newsgathering Paul Haven and Middle East news director Karin Laub:
Riazat Butt has been named news director for Afghanistan and Pakistan, replacing Kathy Gannon who retired in May. Riazat will be based in Islamabad and start Sept. 15. Riazat has worked as a reporter and editor in some of the world’s busiest newsrooms, including The Guardian, AFP and Al Jazeera. At one point in her career, she was the first non-Christian religious affairs reporter for a major UK publication. She has been based in locations around the world, from London and Doha to Beijing and Hong Kong. She earned an undergraduate degree in Spanish from Oxford University and a master’s degree in Afghan and South Asian Security Issues from King’s College in London.
Abby Sewell has been named news director for Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, replacing Zeina Karam, who was promoted to deputy Europe news director. Abby will be based in Beirut and start Oct. 15. Before joining the AP, Abby ran a busy and diverse newsroom as deputy managing editor at L’Orient Today, the English language site of Lebanon’s French language newspaper L’Orient-Le Jour. She earned an undergraduate degree in political science from Reed College and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. After stints at local newspapers in Oregon and California, she worked on the metro desk of The Los Angeles Times for six years, as part of a team that won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. In 2016, she left the U.S. for Lebanon to realize her ambition of becoming a foreign correspondent.
Fatima Shbair joined the AP as a photographer in Gaza in late July. She is a self-taught photographer and began working in photojournalism in 2019. The following year, she began assignments for international agencies. She has won several international awards, including a World Press Photo prize, the Anja Niedringhaus Award and others.
Jack Jeffery will join the AP team in Cairo on Sept. 15 as a reporter, to cover Egypt, Sudan, Libya and Yemen. Jack, an Arabic speaker, worked as a paid intern at the AP offices in Jerusalem and Ramallah in the second half of 2021, impressing his colleagues with well-reported text and video stories. Jack has acquired a deep understanding of Sudan, after working as an editor at the independent Sudanese station Radio Dabanga. Jack also worked as a free-lance journalist in Tunisia.
Kareem Chehayeb joined the AP team in Beirut as a reporter in July, to cover Lebanon and Syria. In the preceding year, he worked as the Beirut correspondent for Al Jazeera English. Previously, Kareem worked as a free-lance reporter from his base in Beirut. He also served as a researcher for Amnesty International and the International Rescue Committee.