Ivan Watson is currently based in Istanbul, Turkey. Following the 9-11 terrorist attacks, he has contributed to NPR's coverage of Central Asia and the Middle East. During the Afghan War, Watson "stormed" Kabul along with the Northern Alliance the morning after the withdrawal of the Taliban. After reporting for nearly a year on post-Taliban Afghanistan, Watson then joined NPR's award-winning team coverage of the Iraq War. He embedded with the Kurds of Northern Iraq at the height of the conflict. Since Saddam Hussein's overthrow, Watson has documented the troubled U.S. occupation and the bloody rise of the Iraqi insurgency.
Watson first joined NPR in December 2001 as West Africa correspondent based in Lagos, Nigeria. In addition to reporting on Africa's most populous nation, Watson traveled to countries such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Mauritania to prepare features on cultures and conflicts in a region that is often overlooked by the American media.
Watson's first overseas posting was in Russia in 1998. He spent three years in Moscow, first working with CBS News, and then as a producer for CNN's Moscow bureau. News stories took him from the Russian war in Chechnya to the Arctic, for the sinking of the Kursk submarine. Watson and CNN correspondent Eileen O'Connor unexpectedly recorded an exclusive interview with Russia's future second president when they spoke with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on December 30, 2000, just hours before President Boris Yeltsin upstaged the millennium by unexpectedly resigning from office.