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.

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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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5:56am

Thu August 30, 2012
Middle East

United Nations Urged To Help Syrian Refugees

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 7:36 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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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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5:13am

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

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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7:16am

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.

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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4:02pm

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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4:29pm

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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3:32pm

Thu March 15, 2012
Middle East

Along Syrian Border, Turks Torn By Divided Loyalties

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

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

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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8:00am

Sun March 11, 2012
Middle East

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.

1:11pm

Tue March 6, 2012
Middle East

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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12:01am

Tue March 6, 2012
Middle East

From The Outside, Doctor Mobilizes Aid For Syrians

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

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

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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4:52pm

Mon February 27, 2012
Middle East

In A New Setback, Syrian Opposition Splits

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

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

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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5:13pm

Thu February 23, 2012
Middle East

Syrian Forces Tightening Grip On Parts Of Homs

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

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

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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3:13pm

Tue February 14, 2012
Middle East

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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12:01am

Thu January 26, 2012
Middle East

For Turkish Journalists, Arrest Is A Real Danger

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

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

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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3:04pm

Wed January 11, 2012
Middle East

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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3:00pm

Tue January 10, 2012
Middle East

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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3:00pm

Fri January 6, 2012
NPR Story

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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12:01am

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

The Turkish Model: Can It Be Replicated?

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

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

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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