Peter Kenyon

Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.

Prior to taking this assignment in 2010, Kenyon spent five years in Cairo covering Middle Eastern and North African countries from Syria to Morocco. He was part of NPR's team recognized with two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University awards for outstanding coverage of post-war Iraq.

In addition to regular stints in Iraq, he has followed stories to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Qatar, Algeria, Morocco and other countries in the region.

Arriving at NPR in 1995, Kenyon spent six years in Washington, D.C., working in a variety of positions including as a correspondent covering the US Senate during President Bill Clinton's second term and the beginning of the President George W. Bush's administration.

Kenyon came to NPR from the Alaska Public Radio Network. He began his public radio career in the small fishing community of Petersburg, where he met his wife Nevette, a commercial fisherwoman.

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5:19pm

Wed February 27, 2013
Middle East

Iran Nuclear Talks Set Stage For Future Bargaining

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 5:57 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Today, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Iran and six world powers including the U.S. wrapped up two days of talks. No breakthroughs, but Iran is considering a proposal that would impose new restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of some economic sanctions. The two sides will return to Kazakhstan for another meeting in early April. NPR's Peter Kenyon has this report from the scene of the negotiations.

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3:25am

Tue February 5, 2013
Middle East

In Syrian Conflict, Real-Time Evidence Of Violations

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 1:47 pm

Syrians look for survivors amid the rubble of a building targeted by a missile in the al-Mashhad neighborhood of Aleppo on Jan. 7.
AFP Getty Images

There are growing calls for Syria's leaders to face war crimes charges for the fierce assaults against rebel targets and civilian areas. If that happens, veterans of past war crimes prosecutions say, Syrians will have one big advantage: The widespread gathering of evidence across the country is happening often in real time.

After visiting a Syrian refugee camp in southeastern Turkey recently, Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, reacted sharply to a question that suggested Washington, D.C., has kept quiet about the Syrian regime's attacks.

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3:24pm

Mon February 4, 2013
Middle East

Iran's Leader Embraces Facebook; Fellow Iranians Are Blocked

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 10:29 am

Iranian authorities are using cyberpolice units to crack down on people who try to access banned websites, including social media sites such as Facebook. Here, Iranians use computers at an Internet cafe in Tehran in January.
Vahid Salemi AP

When Iran's supreme leader got a Facebook page in December, Iranians sat up and blinked.

Some thought it was a fake, finding it hard to believe that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would be using a technology that his own government blocks. A U.S. State Department spokeswoman skeptically wondered how many "likes" it would attract.

But some of Khamenei's supporters quickly rallied behind the move, which first came to light in a reference on — you guessed it — the ayatollah's Twitter account.

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3:23am

Thu January 3, 2013
Europe

Prime Minister Finds Soap Opera's Turkish Delights In Bad Taste

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 6:27 am

Eggs streak down a billboard advertising the popular Turkish soap opera The Magnificent Century. The show focuses on palace intrigue during the 16th-century rule of Suleiman the Magnificent. Some Islamists have protested the show's depiction of the sultan's harem.
Murad Sezer Reuters via Landov

Suleiman the Magnificent was the longest-reigning sultan of the Ottoman Empire, presiding for nearly a half-century at the peak of the empire's power in the 16th century.

During Suleiman's rule from 1520 to 1566, the Ottomans were a political, economic and military powerhouse. Suleiman's forces sacked Belgrade, annexed much of Hungary and advanced across large parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

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3:51pm

Mon December 24, 2012
NPR Story

No Breakthrough In Sight For Peaceful Transition In Syria

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 5:18 pm

Amid continued bloodshed in several parts of Syria, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held another round of talks with President Bashar Assad in Damascus. But there was no sign of progress toward a peace deal.

3:40pm

Fri November 30, 2012
Middle East

In Istanbul, A Byzantine-Era Fleet Surfaces Again

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 8:24 pm

Archaeologists call an excavation site on Istanbul's southern shore the world's largest shipwreck collection. The area, unearthed during construction of a railway station, was once a Byzantine-era port that harbored cargo and military vessels, and received goods from around the Mediterranean.
Gokce Saracoglu for NPR

In Istanbul, major public transit projects are back under way after years of paralysis. The problem wasn't a lack of financing, but the layer upon layer of ancient artifacts that turned up every time the earthmovers started their work.

The excavation began eight years ago on projects intended to ease Istanbul's notoriously clogged traffic.

The job included building a tunnel under the Bosphorus Strait and linking it to a rail and subway network. When the dig was stopped several years ago, eyes rolled and shoulders shrugged.

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7:22am

Thu November 22, 2012
Middle East

Ruling Party's Shift Causes Consternation In Israel

Originally published on Sun November 25, 2012 10:02 am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman shake hands in front of the media after giving a statement in Jerusalem last month. Netanyahu said his Likud Party will join forces with the hard-line party of his foreign minister in upcoming parliamentary elections.
Bernat Armangue AP

Some analysts have suggested that one impetus for the Israeli military strikes in Gaza is the upcoming election season in Israel. With elections set for January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu changed the political landscape last month by announcing that his Likud Party would run along with a right-wing party led by hawkish Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Likud Party leaders complained that they were left in the dark before the prime minister effectively vaulted Lieberman into the No. 2 political position.

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5:24am

Sat November 10, 2012
Middle East

As Turkey Rises, 'A Real Problem' With Censorship

Originally published on Sat November 10, 2012 2:25 pm

Kurdish women hold pictures of jailed journalists in Istanbul on Sept. 10, during the start of the trial of 44 journalists with suspected links to rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party.
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

Nearly two years ago, Soner Yalcin and more than a dozen of his employees at the online news outlet OdaTV joined the growing list of incarcerated Turkish journalists. Yalcin, the owner of OdaTV, is one of the sharpest critics of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.

As their trial proceedings dragged on, challenges to the state's case grew, and most of the outlet's journalists were released, pending the trial's conclusion. But Yalcin and two others remain behind bars, 22 months and counting.

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3:25pm

Sat October 27, 2012
It's All Politics

Among Israelis, Romney Appears The Favorite

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 9:51 am

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney places a prayer note during a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem in July. Israel is one of the few foreign countries where residents have a clear preference for Romney over President Obama.
Charles Dharapak AP

Israelis view the American presidential election much the way they tend to view most issues: What does it mean for Israel?

And by a wide margin, Israelis seem to believe that Republican candidate Mitt Romney would be more attentive to Israel's interests than President Obama.

The Peace Index Poll, commissioned by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute, found that Romney was favored 2-to-1 by Israelis back in August.

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5:21pm

Tue October 23, 2012
Middle East

Qatari Emir First World Leader To Visit Gaza In Years

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 9:48 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

The Emir of Qatar visited the Gaza Strip today. He's the first world leader to do so since 2007, when the Islamist movement Hamas seized control of the Palestinian territory and Israel responded with a blockade. The emir called on Hamas to reconcile with the rival Fatah movement. He also promised some $400 million in reconstruction projects, as NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Gaza.

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3:51pm

Wed October 17, 2012
Middle East

In A Ravaged Syrian Village, Planning For The Future

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 8:00 pm

Rebels of the Free Syrian Army sit on top of a military truck captured from the Syrian army in the village of Khirbet al-Joz along the Turkish border in northern Syria on Oct. 7, in this photo provided by the Edlib News Network, ENN. The rebels hope to put a civilian council in charge and believe such moves could help pave the way for a secular, democratic Syria.
AP

The rebels of the Free Syrian Army recently retook the small farming village of Khirbet al-Joz, just across the border from Turkey. Soon after, Syrian men who had been in Turkish refugee camps returned to the village to see what had happened to their homes.

Activists from a group called the Syrian Emergency Task Force also visited Khirbet al-Joz and filmed video of villagers as they toured the charred ruins.

One man points to a hole in the wall: "Look, this is where the rocket entered. These are Bashar's reforms," he says, referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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3:03am

Tue October 16, 2012
Middle East

Turks Fear What Syria's War Will Bring

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 8:16 pm

Turkish soldiers stand near the Turkey-Syria border in Akcakale, Turkey, early Friday.
AP

In Turkey's southern Hatay province, it is harvest time — the second harvest since the uprising began in neighboring Syria.

In the village of Hacipasa, Turkey, located right along the Syrian border, children play alongside tents on the edge of the farm fields. The tents belong not to Syrian refugees, but to Turkish farmworkers helping to bring in the cotton, tomatoes, peppers and pomegranates waiting to be harvested.

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4:51pm

Mon September 24, 2012
Middle East

U.S. Naval Exercises Send Message In The Tense Gulf

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 11:44 am

A U.S. Navy boat is lowered to the sea from the deck of the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf on Sept. 22. More than 30 nations are participating in an exercise responding to simulated sea-mine attacks in international waters amid rising tension with Iran.
Hasan Jamali AP

The U.S. military, along with more than 30 allied countries, has just launched a new round of naval exercises in the Persian Gulf at a time when tensions in the region are running particularly high.

But U.S. officials say the aim is not to increase anxiety, but rather to ensure stability. More specifically, the exercises are designed to deal with mines that could hamper shipping in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world's oil supply transits.

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10:23am

Tue September 18, 2012
The Two-Way

Famed Barcelona Footballers Will Only Fly With Female Flight Attendants

Lionel Messi (second from left) and some of his Barcelona teammates during a match last weekend.
Javier Soriano AFP/Getty Images

For the past few years, Turkish Airlines has been the official airline of soccer's FC Barcelona, home to such famous footballers as Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta. Well, apparently the Barca boys haven't been happy with the service.

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5:39am

Sun September 9, 2012
Europe

Istanbul, A City Of Spies In Fact And Fiction

Originally published on Sun September 9, 2012 1:43 pm

Though not the capital, Istanbul is the cultural, economic and financial heart of Turkey. Situated on the Bosporus strait, this metropolis spans Europe and Asia — and has a storied history as a gathering place for spies.
Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Headlines today in Turkey feature stories of alleged Iranian spies, gathering information about Kurdish militants who are responsible for many deaths in Turkey this summer.

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4:32pm

Mon July 30, 2012
Middle East

Is Assad Carving Out A Haven For Syria's Alawites?

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 9:04 pm

A Syrian man holds a national flag bearing pictures of President Bashar Assad during a pro-regime protest to condemn a deadly attack in the central Midan district of Damascus on April 27.
Louai Beshara AFP/Getty Images

As fighting between the Syrian military and rebel fighters rages, concerns are growing about how the regime of President Bashar Assad might react if it becomes convinced it's about to lose power.

One theory involves the establishment of a breakaway region dominated by Syria's Alawite minority — which includes the Assad family — in the northwestern coastal mountains. Analysts say this would be a disaster both for Assad and the region, but it can't be completely ruled out.

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7:28am

Thu July 26, 2012
Middle East

Fight For Syria's Big Cities Intensifies

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 10:35 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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7:22am

Sun July 15, 2012
Middle East

In Egypt, Clinton Promotes Dialogue With Military

Originally published on Sun July 22, 2012 9:41 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads for Israel today; this, after leaving Egypt, where she met with that country's new Islamist president and also, the head of the powerful military council. Secretary Clinton said Egypt needs to continue its transition to a civilian-led democracy. But that message was delivered gently, a sign that Washington sees a long and uncertain transition ahead. NPR's Peter Kenyon has more from Cairo.

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4:33pm

Mon July 2, 2012
Africa

With Problems Egypt, Will Morsi Play Role In Region

Originally published on Sun July 8, 2012 8:31 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The election of Egypt's first Islamist president could alter alliances across the Mideast. Diplomats and analysts are trying to figure out how Egypt's relations with Iran, Israel and other countries may change now that a member of the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood will be leading the country.

From Cairo, NPR's Peter Kenyon has our story.

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7:28am

Sun June 17, 2012
Middle East

Heading Into Iran Nuclear Talks, A Diplomatic Slump

Originally published on Sun June 17, 2012 1:23 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The up and down Iran nuclear talks appear to be in a down cycle as negotiators prepare to meet tomorrow in Moscow. Difficult talks in Baghdad last month were followed by contentious comments on both sides. And all this as new oil sanctions against Iran are due to take effect July 1st. NPR's Peter Kenyon has more from Moscow.

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3:00am

Fri June 1, 2012
Iraq

Ignoring Critics, Iraq's Leader Consolidates Power

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 10:30 pm

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (center) arrives on May 8 at Kirkuk airport in northern Iraq, on his first visit to the multi-ethnic city since taking office.
Marwan Ibrahim AFP/Getty Images

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently held one of his traveling Cabinet meetings in the disputed city of Kirkuk in an effort to show Iraqi Arabs on the edge of the Kurdish-controlled north that he's working on their behalf, too.

But the fact that he felt obliged to bring in large numbers of heavily armed troops for the event illustrated the tension plaguing Iraqi politics.

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8:39am

Sun May 20, 2012
Middle East

Lessons For Egyptian Elections From Turkey

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And when Egyptians head to the polls this week, many will be looking to celebrate the end of military rule, which began some 50 years ago. Observers warn that it won't be easy to send a deeply entrenched military back to its barracks, and they point to Turkey's experience as an example.

NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul.

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5:56am

Sat May 19, 2012
Europe

In Turkey, Debating A Women's Right To Bear Arms

Originally published on Sat May 19, 2012 11:09 pm

A woman holds a photo of Guldunya Toren, an unmarried mother allegedly killed by her brothers for having a child out of wedlock, outside parliament in Ankara, Turkey, in 2004. Her case prompted huge protests and forced Turks to realize that the justice system often fails to protect at-risk women.
Burhan Ozbilici AP

In Turkey, hundreds of women die each year at the hands of a husband or family member, in a society that critics say too often ignores violence against women. After years of frustration, one organization has shaken up the debate with a controversial proposal: arming women and training them to defend themselves.

Looking back, Yagmur Askin thinks perhaps she should have paid more attention on her wedding day, when her husband's family welcomed her by saying, "You enter this house in a bridal gown, and you'll leave it in a coffin."

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3:37pm

Fri April 27, 2012
Middle East

In A Change, Turkey Tightens Its Border With Syria

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 6:05 pm

Turkish army personnel patrol near the border with Syria in Kilis earlier this month. Activists and smugglers say it's getting harder to get medical and communications equipment into Syria across the Turkish border.
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

The spring sun is warming the fields and orchards along the Turkey-Syria border, and new refugee camps are sprouting as well.

Smugglers who have long worked these mountain border trails are now busy moving civilians out of Syria to the safety of Turkish camps. They're also moving medical and communications equipment and people into opposition-held neighborhoods in Syria. But recently, some say that's getting harder.

A smuggler known as Abu Ayham says Turkish guards, who used to permit nonlethal aid to pass freely, have suddenly grown much tougher on the smugglers.

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8:00am

Sun April 15, 2012
Middle East

Step By Step: Working With Iran

Originally published on Sun April 15, 2012 1:43 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

To Istanbul now, where negotiators for Iran and six world powers say yesterday's talks on Iran's nuclear program represent a constructive beginning. They agreed to meet again next month in Baghdad. U.S. officials note there is still a long way to go before the world can be satisfied with Iran's claims that it's enriching uranium only for peaceful purposes. But both sides say they're willing to try a step-by-step approach to resolving the issue. NPR's Peter Kenyon has more.

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3:19pm

Fri April 13, 2012
World

In Balancing Act, Turkey Hosts Iranian Nuclear Talks

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 5:55 pm

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran, Iran, in March. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated over Iran's continued support of the Syrian regime.
Vahid Salemi AP

Iran's suspect nuclear program will again be in the spotlight this weekend when negotiators from Iran and six international powers meet in Istanbul.

Iran was reluctant to have Turkey host the meeting, reflecting Iran's growing unhappiness with Turkish foreign policy moves, especially its call for regime change in Syria, Iran's key ally in the Arab world.

Analyst and columnist Yavuz Baydar says Turkey has stuck its neck out for Iran in the past, defending what it calls Iran's peaceful nuclear energy program and even voting against U.N. sanctions on Iran two years ago.

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4:00am

Thu April 12, 2012
Middle East

Syrian Cease-Fire Appears To Be Holding

After months of relentless shelling and gunfire, activists in Syria reported a quieter daybreak Thursday, as a ceasefire arranged by U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan appeared to be largely holding.

Opposition figures said rebel fighters inside Syria would abide by the truce as long as the Syrian military does, while the government says its forces will return fire if attacked. Annan is hoping to progress from the cease-fire to getting humanitarian assistance into the country, and eventually to political negotiations.

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4:29pm

Mon April 9, 2012
Africa

Is The Old Regime Seeking A Comeback In Egypt?

Originally published on Mon April 9, 2012 5:14 pm

Omar Suleiman (right), who was intelligence chief and vice president under former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, leaves the presidential elections committee headquarters in Cairo on April 7, after submitting his candidacy papers.
Khaled Elfiqi EPA /Landov

In Egypt, next month's presidential election has undergone a wrenching several days.

First, leading Islamist candidates faced possible disqualification on legal grounds, and then, hours before the deadline to register, a leading face from the regime of Hosni Mubarak jumped into the race.

The appearance of 75-year-old Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's former intelligence chief, has sparked fears that the military council running the country is maneuvering to bring back the old regime.

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4:19pm

Fri March 30, 2012
Middle East

Diplomats Gather, But Syrian Truce Remains Elusive

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 5:40 pm

Syrian opposition groups gathered in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday, as the factions attempt to form a more unified front. This Sunday, the opposition factions, including the main Syrian National Council, will be joined by diplomats in a meeting of the "Friends of Syria."
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan says the Syrian government should be the first to enact a cease-fire, but there was no sign of that on Friday. More violence erupted in several Syrian cities as diplomats prepared for Sunday's meeting of the "Friends of Syria" in Istanbul, Turkey.

The gathering comes at a time of growing disaffection with diplomatic efforts and an increase in attacks by Syrian opposition fighters.

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4:43pm

Tue March 20, 2012
Middle East

Turkey Resists Calls To Arm Syrian Rebels

Originally published on Tue March 20, 2012 6:15 pm

Syrians living in Turkey and human-rights activists stage a protest on Feb. 4 outside the Syrian consulate in Istanbul to condemn the killings in Syria. Calls are growing louder for Turkey to intervene in the violence in neighboring Syria by helping the rebels and civilians there.
Anonymous AP

The rising civilian death toll in Syria is accompanied by mounting calls to arm the Syrian opposition. And Turkey, a NATO country that shares a long, rugged border with Syria, is often mentioned as a likely transit point.

Turkey has become increasingly critical of the Syrian regime, but Ankara is thus far reluctant to send significant arms across the border or use its large military to create a humanitarian corridor inside Syria.

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