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.

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."

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