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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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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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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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.

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