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.

Traffic is crawling, sirens wailing and police are hustling pedestrians around metal barricades. It's not another terrorist attack in Istanbul, but super-high security precautions for the first U.N. World Humanitarian Summit.

Dozens of government and NGO delegations converged on Istanbul's Congress Center, just down the street from central Taksim Square, posing for selfies and greeting old friends. The two-day summit is meant to lay the groundwork for a radical transformation of the way global humanitarian aid is delivered; participants say good progress on that has been made.

Getting justice for victims of torture and other abuses used to be just about impossible. It's still extremely difficult, but decades of work by activists, lawyers — and increasingly by doctors — have brought new tools to the struggle, whether they're working in a war zone or a hostile political environment.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu — who is supposed to be in charge of the government, according to the country's constitution — abruptly announced he won't seek to continue in office, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to press for more executive power.

After meeting with Erdogan in the capital city of Ankara, Davutoglu told a news conference today that there will be an extraordinary congress of the ruling AK Party on May 22 and that he won't be standing for party leader, thereby ending his term as prime minister after just 20 months.

Two years ago in Istanbul, I dragged Selcuk Altun, a Turkish author and lover of all things Byzantine, to the Hagia Sophia, a sixth century church that's now a museum. But we couldn't even get close. Altun took one look at the mass of sweating humanity blocking the entrance and decided to do the interview outside. But this year, the change is astonishing.

In recent years, Turkey has been criticized for doing too little to stop jihadi fighters from moving between the Mideast and Europe. Its more than 500-mile border with Syria has come in for particular scrutiny throughout the five-year Syrian conflict.

But Turkey says it has deported thousands of suspected foreign fighters or Islamic State supporters since 2011 — nearly 3,300 of them, according to a recent estimate. Many came originally from Europe.

Not long ago, Turkey was held up as a regional model: a Muslim-majority state with a thriving democracy and a market economy. These days, though, it's more often seen as a country where a ruling party with no serious opposition is drifting toward authoritarian rule.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led the Justice and Development Party (AKP in its Turkish acronym) to power in 2002, in a breakthrough victory for politicians gathered together from earlier, failed Islamist parties. The AKP has won every election since.

The fifth year of the Syrian conflict was the worst yet for civilians — and Russia, the U.S., France and Britain are partly to blame. That's according to a new report from 30 aid and human rights groups, including Oxfam and Care International.

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In Iran, voters are still waiting for clarity from the Feb. 26 parliamentary elections, but they're optimistic that a more cooperative legislature will help the government boost the economy. Hopes for broader social and political reforms, however, remain faint.

On a recent afternoon, a covered bazaar in north Tehran has its share of visitors, but there seems to be a lot more window-shopping than buying going on. Carpet shop owner Ali Mirnezami confirms that impression. He says this shop has been operating for 90 years, but at the moment things aren't looking good.

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Iranians vote on Friday for Parliament. The results could signal whether they are ready to engage more robustly with the West, following a deal with world powers aimed at preventing the country from developing nuclear weapons.

Hardliners have effectively controlled the country's political system since Iran's revolution. But Hassan Rouhani, the current president, is considered a moderate and has worked to improve relations with the West. The election will be a crucial test of his agenda.

Iran's capital, Tehran, is in political overdrive this week. Candidates for parliament are battling the Tehran traffic, vying for support in Friday's elections.

This is Iran's first ballot since a nuclear agreement last July that brought the lifting of international sanctions in January. Long before the nuclear deal was signed, Iranians were told by their leaders that the removal of sanctions would bring more opportunity and better living standards.

But for the most part, ordinary Iranians aren't seeing improvements so far.

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Turkey seems to be surrounded by conflicts these days — in neighboring Syria and Iraq, and tensions are running high with Russia. The fight getting the least attention is the one taking place on Turkey's own soil.

At a time when regional tensions are running hot, Iran has taken the unusual step of displaying its missiles that are stored in a vast underground complex.

It was never going to be easy to work out a truce in Syria. And the latest escalation of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia is likely to spill over into the Syria talks, making prospects for a ceasefire even more remote, according to analysts who follow the region.

Another potential loser in the feud is Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, who's been trying to open up his country to the world and is looking to gain additional allies in elections set for next month. But the latest events have played into the hands of his hardline opponents.

Iran appears to be racing toward a major milestone in the nuclear agreement reached this summer with six world powers: "implementation day."

Tax avoidance is a big issue in the United Kingdom these days. The discussion usually revolves around a large multinational company that "goes offshore" by using creative accounting methods to reduce or avoid paying British taxes on its profits.

But in a small town in central Wales, local business owners have decided to try the same thing — to make a point.

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Like many of the stops on one of the world's great trade routes, the Silk Road, Trabzon used to be a lot more important than it is today. But the old market streets of this Turkish Black Sea port city still ring with sounds that could have been heard when ancient Greeks and Romans walked these streets.

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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.

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There is something different about the latest international talks about the war in Syria. For the first time, Iran is at the table. These latest discussions are taking place in Vienna, Austria, which is where we reached NPR's Peter Kenyon.

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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