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
4:05 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Catch Of The Day, Grilled The Turkish Way

Anglers fish off Galata Bridge in Istanbul in 2011. The bridge is within site of the modest waterside restaurant Akin Balik.
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 10:17 pm

Each morning as dawn breaks over the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey, a small drama repeats itself: Massive oil tankers and cargo ships slide past tiny fishing boats bobbing on the surface like bathtub toys.

These intrepid fishermen are out in all weather, in all seasons. In the winter, they catch the rich, oily anchovies, bluefish and mackerel. With spring come the turbot and sea bream, and by summer, sea bass and red mullet are being hawked by the fishmongers.

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Parallels
3:04 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Iran's New President Hints At Easing Internet Controls

Iranians surf the web at an Internet cafe in Tehran on April 28, 2013. The recently elected president, Hasan Rowhani, has suggested that he may loosen restrictions on the Internet.
Abedin Taherkenareh EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 5:10 am

Iran's President-elect Hasan Rowhani has already called for less filtering of the Internet, saying Iran must maintain its principles, but also needs to engage with the wider world.

"We should rectify our relations with the world," Rowhani said in remarks carried by Iran's Press TV. "Gone are the days when a wall could be built around the country.... Today there are no more walls."

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World
6:43 am
Mon June 24, 2013

Turkey's Protests Are An Impediment For Its Prime Minister

Originally published on Mon June 24, 2013 11:54 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In Turkey over the weekend, police used water cannons against demonstrators in Taksim Square. The latest confrontation comes at a delicate time. Turkey is waiting a decision on whether it will host the 2020 Olympic Games.

NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul that Turks are wondering if the government will react with even tighter restrictions on descent, or bend to demands for greater political openness.

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World
5:14 pm
Sat June 15, 2013

In Istanbul's Taksim Square, Cue The Piano Man

Amid the protests and clashes in Istanbul's Taksim Square, a pianist has been hauling in his instrument at night to entertain the crowds. Each time he does, the raucous crowd stills itself while he plays. In between tunes, chants rise up and he stands on his piano bench to conduct the crowd.

NPR Story
8:00 am
Sat June 15, 2013

Turkish Protesters Refuse To Leave Gezi Park

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

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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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The Salt
3:26 am
Fri June 7, 2013

Not Everyone Cheers Turkey's Move To Tighten Alcohol Rules

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

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

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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Parallels
4:02 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

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

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

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

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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Middle East
4:57 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

A Sign of Disunity? Iranian Candidates Jockey For Position

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

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

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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The Two-Way
11:12 am
Wed May 8, 2013

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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The Salt
5:17 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 6:24 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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Sports
8:39 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Turks Desire 'Reversal' In Olympic Wrestling Move

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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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Middle East
3:25 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 1:47 pm

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
3:03 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 10:29 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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Middle East
3:28 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 8:24 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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It's All Politics
3:25 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 9:51 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
6:19 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

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 http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

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Middle East
4:12 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 8:00 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
3:03 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 8:16 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
4:51 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 11:44 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
10:23 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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Middle East
4:32 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 9:04 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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Africa
5:00 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

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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Middle East
5:13 am
Mon June 25, 2012

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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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
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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World
8:43 am
Sun April 15, 2012

World Powers Meet With Iran For Nuclear Talks

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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World
10:18 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
4:43 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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