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.

The Paris attacks have brought new attention to Dimitri Bontinck, a member of Belgium's Dutch-speaking majority. His life was dramatically changed a few years ago, when his then-teenage son converted to Islam and went to Syria to join Islamist fighters there.

Now Bontick is trying to prevent other young Europeans from following the same path.

With thousands of migrants showing up at European borders daily, the EU is pressing Turkey to keep Syrians and other migrants in Turkey. The EU is pledging more than $3 billion in aid for Turkey to do things like cut down on human trafficking.

But what about the migrants themselves, the ones risking their lives to get to Europe?

First, a couple of important facts about migrants in Turkey:

  • Relatively few migrants are in camps. Most are living in Turkish cities and towns, coping as best they can, with some state help with health care and education.

Today marks 90 days since the United Nations Security Council endorsed the landmark nuclear accord agreed between Iran and six world powers (the U.S., Britain, France, Germany China and Russia.)

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will unfold in a series of steps that include nuclear cutbacks made by Iran and sanctions relief offered by the other countries. The phase that begins now is of special interest to nuclear non-proliferation experts.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

You may not have it marked on your calendar, but this coming Sunday is "adoption day." It's the day Iran must begin sharply curtailing its nuclear program as part of the landmark nuclear agreement reached this summer.

Nonproliferation experts say the steps Iran is about to take will put it significantly further away from having a nuclear weapon. Critics, however, warn of the possibility of cheating.

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In a remote mountain village high above Turkey's Black Sea coast, there are villagers who still communicate across valleys by whistling. Not just whistling as in a non-verbal, "Hey, you!" But actually using what they call their "bird language," Turkish words expressed as a series of piercing whistles.

The village is Kuskoy, and it's inhabited by farmers who raise tea, corn, beets and other crops, and also keep livestock. The landscape is unusual by Turkish standards, and the residents are also considered a bit eccentric by other Turks.

As refugees stream into Europe, here's something to consider: The burden being shouldered by Turkey alone dwarfs the numbers currently trying to get to Europe.

Turkey has 2 million Syrians and Iraqis and has spent $7.6 billion caring for them. But here's the catch — the refugees are not allowed to seek asylum in Turkey.

The Greek island of Lesbos has been transformed from a dream vacation spot to a haven of a different sort — for Syrians and Iraqis, a place free from the horrors of war back home. From here, those who've survived the crossing from Turkey can try to press further on to countries in central and northern Europe.

The obstacles ahead don't seem nearly as difficult as the ones they left behind. Many are carrying jagged memories of the savage violence they escaped. Their greatest hope is that their children will be spared what they went through.

To a visitor, it seems like a curious bit of territory for the Turkish military and the Kurds to be fighting over: steep rocky hills covered in brown windblown grass divided by patches of green forestland.

But if you get off the main road, and follow a gravel track into the hills, a makeshift camp emerges. This is where Kurdish activists have put themselves in the line of fire between the Turkish army and the youth faction of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or the PKK.

In Washington, Turkey is seen as an important ally in the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Syria and Iraq. But Ankara is also struggling to quell a resurgent conflict with its own Kurdish minority.

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The U.N. Security Council endorsed a historic nuclear deal with Iran on Monday, and it immediately drew complaints from hard-liners in Tehran as well as from lawmakers — particularly Republicans — in the U.S.

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After four years of war, Syrians are everywhere in Istanbul — on street corners, squatting in abandoned buildings. But a new venture run by Syrian and Turkish book lovers aims to be a cultural oasis for Arabic readers, and, along the way, give Turks a fuller picture of the Syrians, Iraqis and Libyans increasingly filling the city.

In a painstakingly restored old wooden house in a working class neighborhood, Syrians, Iraqis and Turks mingled recently amid the shelves of the Pages bookstore.

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Mutlu Kaya is gifted with a strong, pure voice, and it nearly cost her her life. Or rather, many Turkish women say, it was the reaction to her singing by the men in Kaya's life. She's in the hospital, a bullet in her skull.

It started with a visit to Kaya's hometown by well-known Turkish folk singer Sibel Can. Can was a judge on a moderately popular TV singing show, and she was convinced Kaya could be a star.

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On the outskirts of the Turkish capital, a new landmark looms over what was once Ankara forestland. It's a new presidential palace complex, with at least 1,100 rooms and an official price tag of $615 million — although critics suggest both figures are probably higher.

Oil prices are at a five-year low, inflation is on the rise, the currency is sinking and nuclear talks are dragging on with no end to sanctions in sight. Those are the grim indicators confronting Iranians as winter approaches.

Iran's leaders are counseling resilience and patience, but Iranians aren't finding much to be hopeful about, although they're dealing with it in their own way.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

These days, a visitor to the Persian Gulf sultanate of Oman is likely to be a pale European seeking some winter sun, or perhaps a diplomat seeking to broker a deal between longtime rivals such as, say, the U.S. and Iran. But Oman's reputation as a go-between is well-earned and stretches back centuries.

Back when Northern Europe was overrun by Vikings, Oman had a vast maritime trading empire.
 Now the country is training a new generation of Omanis to care for that legacy, and along the way remind the world of its rich maritime history.

It's a festive time in Oman, the sleepy sultanate on the edge of the Persian Gulf. The national day is Nov. 18, marking Oman's liberation from Portugese colonization, and the capital Muscat is bedecked with banners, scarves and flags. The spicy-sweet smell of frankincense is everywhere, as are images of Oman's absolute monarch for the past 44 years, Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

Three and a half decades after young Iranians stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and triggered a 444-day hostage crisis, calls of "Down with America!" again rang out on the streets outside the former U.S. mission.

So far, so predictable. But this year's rally featured an unusual twist, according to official media.

The Islamic Republic News Agency reports that the rally's final communique condemned America as an "oppressor power" that must be resisted.

Iranian officials attacked the latest United Nations report on its human rights record Friday, blasting what they called efforts to impose a Western lifestyle on the Islamic republic.

But for Iranians and others who hoped President Hassan Rouhani would begin to turn around his county's human rights record, the U.N. report provided a depressing but not surprising answer. It said executions in Rouhani's first year in office had increased to what U.N. Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed called "alarming" levels.

The Urfa plain in southeastern Turkey — not far from where Syrian refugees watch fighters from the so-called Islamic State wage a brutal war in the name of a primitive version of their faith — is one of the most fought-over landscapes in human civilization.

But on the plain — soaked in blood since the days when Sumerian and Assyrian kings ruled Mesopotamia — there's a place that's even older, so old that its denizens hadn't mastered the arts of pottery, writing or making war.

The American-led coalition opposing the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is starting to move toward vetting and training ground forces to do battle in both countries.

But it's a slow process, and it comes after years of frustrations for veterans of the Free Syrian Army, or the FSA, who have gathered in southeastern Turkey, a place with a long history of epic battles and religious fights.

Syrian defenders of the mainly Kurdish border town of Kobani say an increase in coalition airstrikes — and better coordination with the air support — have helped them hold off the more heavily armed fighters from the so-called Islamic State.

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