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.

President Trump's revised travel ban – which suspends visas from six predominantly Muslim countries and suspends refugee admittances – was to have gone into effect at 12:01 a.m. March 16, before a court in Hawaii blocked it on Wednesday.

This spring, voters in Turkey are being asked if they want to transform their government, giving broader executive powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Opposition parties say the proposed constitutional changes would put Turkey on the road to one-man rule, but supporters say in these dangerous times, Turkey needs a strong leader to fend off enemies at home and abroad.

The vote is expected in April, and the government is already in campaign mode, trumpeting its accomplishments and promising more if the referendum is approved.

In the days leading up to today's announcement of additional U.S. sanctions on Iran, the U.S. and Iran have made claims and counter-claims as to whether Iran's ballistic missile test on Sunday violated a U.N. Security Council resolution and the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S.

Iran's former president, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was buried Tuesday, and the large outpouring of grief at his funeral reflects the uncertainty facing Iranian moderates.

Rafsanjani may have risen along with the country's 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed shah, but in later years, his pragmatic streak and respected position made him a leading voice of moderation.

A week after a gunman killed 39 people in an Istanbul nightclub, the suspected assailant remains at large and secular Turks are feeling under attack. ISIS claimed the shooting, calling it an assault on what it called "a pagan holiday." The government's pledge to defend all lifestyles hasn't kept an atmosphere of fear from descending on some of Istanbul's secular neighborhoods.

Turkey has announced eight detentions in connection with Sunday's shootings at an Istanbul nightclub. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack that left 39 dead and 69 wounded. An intensive police search is under way for the gunman, who was not among those picked up Monday.

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In Syria, forces loyal to President Bashar Assad this month retook the last rebel bastion of Aleppo after weeks of intensive bombing and tens of thousands of people displaced. But Syrian officials say there are other areas where local truces have averted deadly military takeovers, and which offer the only way forward for the country.

One of those areas is the Damascus suburb of Qudsaya.

There, a government-sanctioned "reconciliation" was brokered with the help of local religious leaders, activists and the rebels themselves.

In the battle for Mosul, Islamic State fighters who aren't killed are usually taken away for questioning by Iraqi or Kurdish intelligence. But there are also local Iraqis accused of helping ISIS — and they're put through a judicial process of sorts.

One such case was heard recently in a makeshift courthouse, where a displaced judge from Mosul presides.

The Sheikhan criminal court occupies a municipal office building north of Mosul. The courtroom is a medium-sized office with light brown paneling and four desks.

When I last visited Damascus in 2008, the historic Old City district was full of Western students learning Arabic. Before bloody conflicts engulfed them, both Damascus and the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, were favorites with foreigners seeking to learn Arabic.

Eight years ago, U.S. student Kara Francis told me that while she did have to field some questions about then-President George W. Bush, she never felt looked down on for being American.

Donald Trump's election win has focused attention on his business interests around the world and how they might affect his foreign policy. One such place is Turkey, an important NATO ally neighboring the hot spots of Syria, Iraq and Iran. By far the most prominent reminders of the U.S. president-elect in Turkey are Istanbul's own Trump Towers.

In the stone courtyard of a lovingly — if quirkily — restored 500-year-old house in the Old City of Damascus, a ginger-bearded man in a baseball cap opens his arms to another set of visitors.

"Hi," says Syria's most successful sculptor, Mustafa Ali. "This is my place."

Tourists may be avoiding Damascus, thanks to more than five years of war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more. But Ali's artists' retreat, a combination gallery, performance space and fun-house, is nearly always busy.

The European Union is desperate to keep Syrian refugees from bolting from Turkey for Europe. But the prospects for Syrians in Turkey have been slim. Now the EU is launching its biggest aid program yet — more than $375 million aimed at a million of the neediest Syrians in Turkey.

And it's not bags of rice thrown from the back of a truck. It's a bit more modern: a debit card that can be used to buy whatever food, medicine or clothing a family needs, or to get cash.

Just up the hill from Istanbul's Old City, lines are forming outside the district governor's office. This is where Turks can find a new "crisis management center," where those caught up in the post-coup purge can finally be heard in their own defense – or in defense of a relative now behind bars. At a desk, people can submit their written defenses.

Since Turkey's government survived a violent coup attempt on July 15, it has pointed the finger at followers of an elderly, U.S.-based cleric. His name is Fethullah Gulen, and he denies any involvement. Turkey is demanding his extradition from the U.S., where he's lived in Pennsylvania since the late 1990s.

Gulen moved to America in 1999, amid worries that Turkey's secular and military elite was after him. Gulen became a close ally of Erdogan and his AKP party when the party came to power, but the two had a falling out several years later.

For more than a decade, U.S. foreign policy has centered on military action in the Middle East. Often overlooked, but still critical, is U.S. diplomacy. It's a slow and often frustrating art. It can also involve unpopular compromises with allies and rivals.

But there's no way around it. Consider Turkey, with a strategic location that makes it important in Syria, Iraq, and the migrant crisis. But the U.S. and Turkey have had a roller-coaster relationship that took a sharp downward turn after an attempted coup last month against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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Turkey abolished capital punishment in 2004. But in the wake of last month's failed coup, Turks have been demanding it be reinstated for the coup plotters. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has encouraged parliament to consider such a move, saying the public will cannot be ignored.

Legal experts say applying a death sentence retroactively is problematic. European officials say a return to capital punishment would kill Turkey's bid to join the EU. But that hasn't checked a surge in public calls to bring it back.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is promising a military shake-up after last week's failed coup attempt. More than 7,000 soldiers are already in custody, including nearly 100 generals.

Turks were thrilled to see last Friday's coup effort thwarted, but some are wondering if the armed forces are in any condition to deal with the many challenges facing the country — fighting the Islamic State, battling Kurdish militants and managing chaotic borders with Iraq and Syria.

After surviving a coup attempt that left more than 240 dead and some 1,500 wounded, Turks are now living under a state of emergency that will last at least three months. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the emergency measures Wednesday night, promising to "cleanse" both the military and the government.

Dog excrement thrown at a German woman's door. "Go back to Africa" screamed at a military veteran. A Polish cultural center vandalized. Born-and-bred Britons told to "go home." Why? Because "we voted you out."

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United Kingdom voters sent shockwaves across Europe and beyond with their vote to exit the European Union. The "Brexit" vote stunned the country's political elite, the financial markets and British bookmakers, all of whom had expected a very close vote in favor of remaining in the European Union.

The latest polls on the United Kingdom's vote to stay in or leave the European Union show a slight rise for the Remain camp. Most, however, agree that Thursday's referendum is still too close to call. Such uncertainty has surrounded the entire Brexit debate – with one exception.

Britain's bookies say the smart money is on Remain.

"At the moment, Remain is the odds-on favorite at 1 to 4, so that equates to about a 76 percent chance of the U.K. voting to remain in the EU," says Jessica Bridge, spokeswoman for Ladbrokes, one of the U.K.'s larger betting firms.

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Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The June 23 referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union has revealed one clear gap: younger voters are much more likely to favor staying in the E.U. compared to older ones. A recent study found that 69 percent of those under age 35 want to stay and 46 percent of those older than 55 favor leaving.

British voters on June 23 will cast what some have called the most important ballot of their lives — whether the U.K. should remain in the European Union or pull out, in what's become popularly known as a "Brexit."

There's been a blizzard of claims from both supporters and opponents of exiting the union, and while most polls show a neck-and-neck race at the moment, the number of undecided voters is high.

More than 2 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, driven out by the fighting that erupted in their homeland in 2011. But none can claim an odyssey quite like that of Mohammed Faris.

As Syria's first and only cosmonaut, Mohammed Faris rocketed into orbit with two Soviet colleagues in 1987. He conducted experiments and photographed his country from space. By the time he returned to Syria, most everyone in the country knew his name.

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.

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