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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The Salt
3:05 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

In Kazakhstan, No Horror At Horse Meat

Signs advertise the type of meat sold in each section of the Green Market in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Sly06/Flickr

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 4:24 pm

Though the thought of horse meat in British lasagna or Ikea meatballs may be stomach-churning to some people, in some cultures the practice of eating horse meat is not just acceptable, it's a treat. NPR's Peter Kenyon just returned from the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan and checked out the meat market at the Green Bazaar in Almaty.

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Middle East
1:25 am
Tue February 5, 2013

In Syrian Conflict, Real-Time Evidence Of Violations

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

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 11:47 am

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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Middle East
1:03 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Iran's Leader Embraces Facebook; Fellow Iranians Are Blocked

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

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 8:29 am

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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Europe
1:23 am
Thu January 3, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 4:27 am

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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Middle East
1:28 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

In Istanbul, A Byzantine-Era Fleet Surfaces Again

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

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 6:24 pm

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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Middle East
5:22 am
Thu November 22, 2012

Ruling Party's Shift Causes Consternation In Israel

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

Originally published on Sun November 25, 2012 8:02 am

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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Middle East
3:24 am
Sat November 10, 2012

As Turkey Rises, 'A Real Problem' With Censorship

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

Originally published on Sat November 10, 2012 12:25 pm

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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It's All Politics
1:25 pm
Sat October 27, 2012

Among Israelis, Romney Appears The Favorite

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

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 7:51 am

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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Middle East
3:43 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Qatari Emir First World Leader To Visit Gaza In Years

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 7:48 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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Middle East
2:12 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

In A Ravaged Syrian Village, Planning For The Future

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

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 6:00 pm

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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Middle East
1:03 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Turks Fear What Syria's War Will Bring

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

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 6:16 pm

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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Middle East
2:51 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 9:44 am

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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The Two-Way
8:23 am
Tue September 18, 2012

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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Europe
3:39 am
Sun September 9, 2012

Istanbul, A City Of Spies In Fact And Fiction

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

Originally published on Sun September 9, 2012 11:43 am

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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Middle East
3:56 am
Thu August 30, 2012

United Nations Urged To Help Syrian Refugees

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 5:36 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Turkey's foreign minister is in New York today. He's urging the United Nations to begin sheltering and protecting refugees inside Syria. It's a move that would almost certainly require international military involvement to safeguard an area inside the country. But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says talk of a safe zone inside his country is not practical. NPR's Peter Kenyon has this report from Istanbul.

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Middle East
2:32 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 7:04 pm

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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Middle East
5:28 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Fight For Syria's Big Cities Intensifies

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 8:35 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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Middle East
5:22 am
Sun July 15, 2012

In Egypt, Clinton Promotes Dialogue With Military

Originally published on Sun July 22, 2012 7:41 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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NPR Story
3:13 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Despite New President, Egypt's Military Wields Real Power

Originally published on Mon June 25, 2012 6:40 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

The next leader of Egypt promises he will be president of all Egyptians. That's a vital promise for Mohamed Morsi to make and it addresses an issue on which he will be closely watched.

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Middle East
5:28 am
Sun June 17, 2012

Heading Into Iran Nuclear Talks, A Diplomatic Slump

Originally published on Sun June 17, 2012 11:23 am

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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Iraq
1:00 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 8:30 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
6:39 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
3:56 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 9:09 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
1:58 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 4:05 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
6:00 am
Sun April 15, 2012

Step By Step: Working With Iran

Originally published on Sun April 15, 2012 11:43 am

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
1:19 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 3:55 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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Middle East
2:00 am
Thu April 12, 2012

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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Africa
2:29 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 3:14 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
2:19 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 3:40 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
2:43 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 4:15 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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