NPR: 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.



Sat June 15, 2013
NPR Story

Turkish Protesters Refuse To Leave Gezi Park

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 4:40 pm



Protesters who were camped out in Istanbul's Gezi Park say they won't pack up and go home despite a government offer to avoid bulldozing the park without court approval and a public referendum. Protest organizers say that other demands such as releasing detained protesters have not been met.

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Fri June 7, 2013
The Salt

Not Everyone Cheers Turkey's Move To Tighten Alcohol Rules

Originally published on Fri June 7, 2013 4:46 am

Diners drinking raki, a traditional Turkish alcoholic drink flavored with anise, at a restaurant in Istanbul.
Jodi Hilton for NPR

The ongoing anti-government protests in Turkey are about a lot of things — including a recent law to restrict the advertising and sale of alcohol. The limits aren't any more onerous than those in some other Western countries, but secular Turks see them as another step in a push by the ruling party to impose conservative social values on the population

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Mon May 20, 2013

Iran's 'Zahra' Tells Alternate Tale Of Presidential Campaign

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 1:17 am

A panel from Amir Soltani's Zahra on the Campaign Trail. Drawing by Khalil.
Amir Soltani

Iranians choose a new president next month, and one thing Iran's leaders are intent on avoiding is a repeat of the massive street protests that followed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's controversial re-election in 2009.

The sponsors of those protests, known as the Green Movement, have been effectively silenced inside Iran, but not online. The heroine of a graphic novel about the violent suppression of dissent in 2009 is now launching a virtual campaign of her own.

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Tue May 14, 2013
Middle East

A Sign of Disunity? Iranian Candidates Jockey For Position

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 7:15 pm

Etrat Kazemi (center) registers her candidacy for the upcoming presidential election in Tehran, Iran, last week. More than 700 people have registered to run in the June 14 election.
Ebrahim Noroozi AP

Nearly 700 presidential hopefuls have thrown their names into the ring for Iran's June 14 presidential elections. But two last-minute entrants have altered the shape of the already-chaotic race: a former president once dismissed as a has-been and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator.

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Wed May 8, 2013
The Two-Way

Kurdish Militants Begin Historic Withdrawal From Turkey

Today marks the beginning of the pullback of thousands of militant PKK fighters from Turkey back to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. It's an important milestone in a delicate effort to end nearly three decades of bloodshed that have killed an estimated 35,000 people since 1984.

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Sun May 5, 2013

Foreigners At Home: Turkey Beckons To Germany's Turks

Originally published on Sun May 5, 2013 6:39 pm

The euro crisis and Islamophobia are making Turkey more appealing to the descendants of Turkish immigrants who have been living in Germany.
Julian Finney Getty Images

In 1961, desperate to increase its labor force, West Germany signed an employment agreement with Turkey and launched a wave of immigration that continues to have repercussions today.

Now, after years of being treated as second-class citizens in Europe's economic powerhouse, large numbers of Turks — descendants of the first wave of immigrants — are returning to Turkey.

In A Strange Land

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Sun April 21, 2013
Middle East

New Aid To Syria Comes With Fear Of Funding The Wrong Opposition

Originally published on Sun April 21, 2013 9:09 pm

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens in during a "Friends of Syria" group meeting hosted on Saturday in Istanbul, Turkey.
Evan Vucci AP

At an 11-nation meeting in Turkey this weekend, there was one thing the United States, European and Arab states could agree on: With more than 70,000 killed and millions of people displaced, the Syrian crisis, as Secretary of State John Kerry says, is "horrific."

In response, the Obama administration is doubling its non-lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, Kerry announced at the meeting.

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Mon March 4, 2013
The Salt

In Kazakhstan, No Horror At Horse Meat

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 6:24 pm

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

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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Fri February 15, 2013

Turks Desire 'Reversal' In Olympic Wrestling Move



This week's news that the International Olympic Committee has decided to drop wrestling from the list of core Olympic sporting events has caused acute pain in Turkey. Wrestling is revered there as an ancestral sport.

In this letter from Istanbul, NPR's Peter Kenyon tells us that Turks plan to take the IOC decision to the mat.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: The Turks don't claim either to have invented wrestling or to be the best in the world at it. They do love it though, and closely followed the matches at the London Games last year.

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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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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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Thu January 3, 2013

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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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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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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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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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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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

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit



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


And I'm Melissa Block.

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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.

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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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.

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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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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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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Sun September 9, 2012

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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Thu August 30, 2012
Middle East

United Nations Urged To Help Syrian Refugees

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 7:36 am



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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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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Thu July 26, 2012
Middle East

Fight For Syria's Big Cities Intensifies

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



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


And I'm Renee Montagne.

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Sun July 15, 2012
Middle East

In Egypt, Clinton Promotes Dialogue With Military

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



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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Mon July 2, 2012

With Problems Egypt, Will Morsi Play Role In Region

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



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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Mon June 25, 2012
Middle East

Despite New President, Egypt's Military Wields Real Power

Originally published on Mon June 25, 2012 8:40 pm



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


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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Mon June 18, 2012
Middle East

Main Syrian Opposition Group Tries To Unify Factions

The main opposition group in Syria is making a renewed push to unify various strands of the anti-regime movement. The new head of the Syrian National Council wants to broaden the group's appeal, and combat fears that it is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.


Sun June 17, 2012
Middle East

Heading Into Iran Nuclear Talks, A Diplomatic Slump

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



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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