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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Iraq
3:00 am
Fri June 1, 2012

Ignoring Critics, Iraq's Leader Consolidates Power

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

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

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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Middle East
8:39 am
Sun May 20, 2012

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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Europe
5:56 am
Sat May 19, 2012

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

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

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

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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Middle East
4:02 pm
Fri April 27, 2012

In A Change, Turkey Tightens Its Border With Syria

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

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

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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Middle East
8:00 am
Sun April 15, 2012

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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World
3:19 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

In Balancing Act, Turkey Hosts Iranian Nuclear Talks

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

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

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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Africa
4:29 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

Is The Old Regime Seeking A Comeback In Egypt?

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

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

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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Middle East
4:19 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Diplomats Gather, But Syrian Truce Remains Elusive

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

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

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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Middle East
4:43 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Turkey Resists Calls To Arm Syrian Rebels

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

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

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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Middle East
3:32 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Along Syrian Border, Turks Torn By Divided Loyalties

Syrians and Turks show their support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in Turkey's southern city of Antakya on Feb. 19. Assad is a member of the minority Alawite religious sect, and many Alawites on both sides of the border support him.
Zohra Bensemra Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 5:59 pm

The Syrian regime's heavy crackdown on dissent has led to a sharp plunge in relations with neighboring Turkey. But the regime does have its Turkish supporters — mainly members of the Alawite minority, the same Islamic sect Syria's ruling Assad family comes from. And that has resulted in complicated loyalties among some Turks, especially those along the border in southeastern Turkey's Hatay province.

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Middle East
8:00 am
Sun March 11, 2012

Kofi Annan Pushes Peace In Syria For Second Day

United Nations envoy Kofi Annan continues talks with the Syrian leadership, hoping to find a way to end the violence of the past year. NPR's Peter Kenyon has the latest.

Middle East
1:11 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Syria's Rebels Ask, Why Aren't The Weapons Coming?

A member of the Free Syrian Army looks at the valley in the village of Ain al-Baida, in Syria's Idlib province, near the Turkish border, in December. Syrians fleeing the fighting in their country are flowing out across the border with Turkey, but opposition fighters say very few weapons are flowing in.
Sezayi Erken AFP/Getty Images

In a nondescript apartment room in Turkey, just across the border from Syria, clouds of cigarette smoke drift toward the ceiling as Syrian opposition activists ponder how to keep people and supplies moving across the border.

Abu Jafaar is the alias of a Syrian smuggler who has been dodging Syrian army patrols for the past several months.

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Middle East
12:01 am
Tue March 6, 2012

From The Outside, Doctor Mobilizes Aid For Syrians

A wounded Syrian undergoes treatment at a makeshift hospital in a house in the Baba Amr district of the central city of Homs.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 12:13 pm

At a cafe in Turkey, near the border with Syria, Dr. Monzer Yazji steps out of his car in the parking lot and encounters a man with a bandaged left hand.

Yazji, a Syrian who now works in the U.S., examines Abu Hamad, a fellow Syrian who has fled the fighting in his homeland.

The doctor, a tall man with glasses and a trim graying beard, is becoming well-known among Syrian activists. Yazji has been periodically leaving his thriving practice in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas to coordinate emergency medical aid for Syria.

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Middle East
4:52 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

In A New Setback, Syrian Opposition Splits

A man burns a portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad during a Sunday demonstration on the outskirts of Idlib in northern Syria.
Rodrigo Abd AP

Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 7:59 pm

Monday was a rough day for the opposition in Syria. Senior officials in the main opposition group announced that they're forming a new organization. The development was the latest sign of the divisions within the Syrian opposition that's trying to oust the government of President Bashar Assad.

At the same time, Assad's government said that nearly 90 percent of voters endorsed constitutional reforms in a referendum a day earlier, even though the Syrian opposition and international critics called the balloting a farce.

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Middle East
5:13 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Syrian Forces Tightening Grip On Parts Of Homs

Flames rise from a house, the result of Syrian government shelling, in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, Syria, on Wednesday, in this image provided by citizen journalists to the Local Coordination Committees.
Local Coordination Committees in Syria AP

Originally published on Thu February 23, 2012 7:10 pm

The Syrian army has cut off all escape routes from a rebel-held neighborhood in Homs, the city that has seen the most intense fighting in recent days, according to opposition activists.

Syrian tanks were seen moving closer to the Baba Amr neighborhood Thursday, as efforts continued to negotiate a cease-fire to evacuate the wounded, including two Western journalists.

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Middle East
3:13 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Iran Can Disrupt Key Waterway — But For How Long?

The USS Abraham Lincoln sailed from the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday. This photo was taken from the bridge of the aircraft carrier and shows U.S. aircraft parked on its flight deck. In the background, a U.S. destroyer patrols.
Hassan Ammar AP

The dispute over Iran's nuclear program has again rocked oil markets. And Iran is threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, which is just 34 miles wide yet serves as the passageway for 20 percent of the world's oil.

This is not a new drama. In fact, it was a recurring issue in the 1980s. Still, there's been relatively little activity among Gulf oil producers to find alternative routes to get their oil to market.

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Middle East
12:01 am
Thu January 26, 2012

For Turkish Journalists, Arrest Is A Real Danger

Hundreds of journalists protest the arrests of members of the media, including Ahmet Sik (poster on the right) and Nedim Sener (center) in Ankara, Turkey, in March 2011. Critics say the government is trying to stifle dissent by arresting journalists — for doing their job.
AP

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 11:42 am

In the wake of the Arab Spring, some Muslims in North Africa are looking across the Mediterranean to Turkey as a potential model of a state that can be modern, Islamic and democratic.

But some analysts in the region say that model is flawed, and they are questioning Turkey's human-rights record and its dealings with the press.

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Middle East
3:04 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Death Of Iranian Nuclear Expert Adds To Tensions

Iranian security forces inspect the site where a magnetic bomb attached to a car by a motorcyclist exploded outside a university in Tehran on Jan. 11, 2012, killing nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan.
Sajad Safari AFP/Getty Images

An explosion in Tehran Wednesday killed an Iranian nuclear scientist while he was driving his car. It's the fifth such death in five years, and Iranian officials immediately blamed Israel. The attack is the latest manifestation of escalating tensions between Iran and the West.

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Middle East
3:00 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Assad Blames Protests On Foreign Involvement

Originally published on Tue January 10, 2012 10:47 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now to Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad delivered a defiant speech today. He called protesters mongrels misled by foreigners and he vowed to stay in power. Assad also criticized the Arab League, which has an observer mission inside Syria.

NPR's Peter Kenyon has more on the story from Istanbul in neighboring Turkey.

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Middle East
3:00 pm
Fri January 6, 2012

In Syria, Suicide Bomber Kills More Than Two Dozen

Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 5:58 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Syrian officials are vowing to respond with an iron fist to a suicide bombing in Damascus today, 25 people were killed. It was the second deadly bomb attack in the Syrian capital in recent weeks. The government and opposition activists traded accusations as to who was responsible. And the bombing raised fears of escalating violence, as the Arab League presses Syria to implement a peace plan.

NPR's Peter Kenyon is monitoring developments in Syria from Istanbul.

(SOUNDBITE OF SIRENS)

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The Arab Spring: One Year Later
12:01 am
Fri January 6, 2012

The Turkish Model: Can It Be Replicated?

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) has been enthusiastically received by Arab Spring countries that look to Turkey as a potential model. Here, Erdogan hosts Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council of Libya, in Istanbul, last month.
Mustafa Ozer AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 9, 2012 11:09 am

In the Arab states that have ousted dictators and begun building new political and economic systems, many are looking to Turkey as an example of a modern, moderate Muslim state that works. Perhaps no country has seen its image in the Arab world soar as quickly as Turkey, a secular state that's run by a party with roots in political Islam. As part of our series on the Arab Spring and where it stands today, NPR's Peter Kenyon examines whether the "Turkish model" can be exported.

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Middle East
4:06 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Iran And Its Rivals Dig In On Nuclear Dispute

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regularly defends his country's nuclear program despite international criticism. The president is shown here on a visit to Varamin, south of Tehran, on Wednesday.
Atta Kenare AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 5:01 pm

The year began on a note of cautious optimism on the Iran nuclear front. But talks in Geneva and Istanbul proved inconclusive, and the Arab Spring uprisings soon pushed Iran off center stage. And as 2012 approaches, observers see little reason for optimism regarding a diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear dispute.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, under attack from other conservative factions at home, continues to find a safe rhetorical haven in defending Iran's nuclear program — and in attacking the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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Europe
5:00 am
Sat December 3, 2011

Turks Enjoy A Little Schadenfreude At EU's Expense

A woman walks up the stairs of Galata Bridge in Istanbul. With the financial crisis in the eurozone, Turks are rethinking their years-long bid to be a part of the European Union.
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

As he prepares for the midday rush, Mustafa Baljan puts the finishing touches on the kebabs, salads and stews that make up many a working Turk's lunch. As the steam carries the scent of lamb and garlic into the street, the 37-year-old restaurant owner considers a popular question: With European economies on the ropes, should Turkey still be seeking to join the European Union?

"Are you kidding? Of course I don't want to join," Baljan says. "Countries are going bankrupt. Why would we want to join a union like that?"

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Food
8:00 am
Sat November 26, 2011

Turkey Feels Pressure To Act On Syria

Originally published on Mon December 5, 2011 2:29 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Arab League meets today in Cairo to consider imposing sanctions against Syria after Damascus rejected the League's demand that Syria allow an observer mission into the country. As protests there continue and the death toll mounts, neighboring Turkey says it's ready to join the Arab League in levying punitive measures against the government in Damascus. But as NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul, Turkey's deep reluctance to endorse a military option underscores the complex risks surrounding any foreign intervention in Syria.

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Conflict In Libya
12:01 am
Mon November 14, 2011

Libya's Economy Faces New Tests After Gadhafi Era

A worker walks in front of a refinery inside the Brega oil complex in Libya.
Hussein Malla AP

Originally published on Mon November 14, 2011 8:27 am

Some Americans are old enough to remember pulling up to the pump at gas stations advertising fuel in cents per gallon, not dollars. For many Libyans, that's the way it has always been and should continue to be in this sparsely populated oil-producing country.

At a Tripoli gas station on a recent afternoon, popular opinion among local Libyans appears to be that the government would keep the prices low, around 60 cents a gallon, or bring them down even further.

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Africa
12:51 am
Sat November 12, 2011

Families Of Prisoners Pressure Libya's New Leaders

A woman outside the Hudba el-Gassi compound in Tripoli, Libya, holds up a sign asking, "Where's my father?" Once a military police base, Hudba el-Gassi is now a makeshift prison for regime loyalists and others rounded up by armed militiamen.
Sean Carberry NPR

In the new Libya, uncertainty is the one certainty.

Contradictions and conspiracies proliferate faster than street demonstrations now that the iron fist of dictator Moammar Gadhafi's regime has been lifted.

Among those searching for answers are relatives of prisoners locked away by various revolutionary military councils. Some of the prisoners are former Gadhafi loyalists with blood on their hands. But family members say others were seized for motives of revenge.

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Africa
5:00 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Turks, Europeans Lead Charge On Libyan Investment

Originally published on Wed November 9, 2011 7:53 pm

Libya may be months from a new government, but the still-infrequent international flights to Tripoli are packed with businesspeople looking to land contracts with this oil-rich North African state. The Turks and Europeans appear to be moving quickly, while the Americans seem to be several steps behind.

On one recent afternoon, the plush Rixos hotel in Tripoli hosted hastily organized meetings between Libyans and a swarm of Turks representing 150 different companies.

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Conflict In Libya
12:01 am
Wed November 9, 2011

In Post-Gadhafi Libya, Enmities Continue To Smolder

This abandoned village outside the city of Zintan was populated by pro-Gadhafi families from the Mushashya, a nomadic tribe from southern Libya. Fighters from Zintan, which rebelled against Gadhafi forces, are hoping they won't come back.
Sean Carberry NPR

In Libya's Nafusa mountains southwest of Tripoli, the sight of abandoned villages and idle fighters hanging onto their weapons gives bleak testament to the fact that not everyone in the country is ready for the violence that overthrew former dictator Moammar Gadhafi to end.

In one windswept mountain village outside the city of Zintan, the only sound is the lonely clatter of a door against the gate of an abandoned house. Burned-out cars and a foam mattress soaked from the rain litter the street; most of the houses look as if they've been looted.

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World
4:08 am
Wed October 26, 2011

Fresh Violence Strains Reforms For Turkish Kurds

Thousands of Turks march Sunday in the streets of the capital, Ankara, to denounce the killing of 25 soldiers by the PKK.

Burhan Ozbilici AP

Originally published on Wed October 26, 2011 7:49 am

Turkish soldiers, artillery and military aircraft are engaged in their biggest military operation in a decade after a raid last week by the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, killed 24 soldiers and wounded more than 100. The operation comes as Turkish politicians begin to debate a new constitution that many hope will grant Turkey's Kurdish population long-sought civil rights.

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World
1:46 pm
Sun October 23, 2011

Powerful Earthquake Strikes Eastern Turkey

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey on Sunday, collapsing dozens of buildings into piles of twisted steel and chunks of concrete. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports.

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