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Nov 24, 2014

Turkey, U.S. ease strains on Islamic State but differences remain

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey and the United States smoothed over some differences in the fight against Islamic State during a weekend visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, but the talks heralded little in the way of deeper military cooperation between the NATO allies.

Turkey has been a reluctant partner in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, refusing to take a frontline military role despite its 1,200 km (750-mile) border with Iraq and Syria and thereby intensifying Western concern that it is a weak link in the struggle against the insurgents.

Nov 13, 2014

Turkey seeks to bolster global influence with G20 role

ISTANBUL/ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey aims to use its approaching presidency of the G20 to promote its image as a global economic power and alleviate a sense of a country increasingly isolated on the world stage and buffeted by conflict on its southern frontiers.

Ankara takes over the G20 presidency in December, its relations with Washington and Europe strained by its reluctance to take a frontline role against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. President Tayyip Erdogan’s tightening grip on power has also raised concern in Europe and the United States.

Nov 5, 2014

Turkey warns of Syrian threat to Aleppo, fears new refugee influx

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has accused Syrian forces of committing massacres in and around Aleppo and said Turkey would face a major new refugee crisis if Syria’s second city fell into their hands.

As U.S. warplanes bomb Islamic State forces in parts of Syria, President Bashar al-Assad’s military has intensified its campaign against some rebel groups in the west and north that Washington sees as allies, including in and around Aleppo.

Oct 3, 2014

Turkey vows support for besieged Syrian town, but no military pledge

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey will do what it can to prevent the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobani, near its border with Syria, falling to Islamic State insurgents, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said late on Thursday, but stopped short of committing to military action.

Hours before Davutoglu’s comments, parliament gave the government powers to order cross-border military incursions against Islamic State, and to allow foreign coalition forces to launch similar operations from Turkish territory.

Oct 1, 2014

Turkey, frustrated with West, clings to fading vision for the Middle East

ANKARA/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Frustrated by Western failure to heed his advice in Syria and Iraq and still smarting over the collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu makes no apology for a foreign policy that has left his country isolated.

His dream of a Middle East with political Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey at its heart seems to be fading as chaos in Syria and Iraq threatens its borders and diplomatic ties with Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, remain broken.

Sep 30, 2014

Hesitant Turkey seeks mandate for military action against Islamic State

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey is likely to gain parliamentary approval for cross-border military operations in Syria and Iraq this week as Islamic State insurgents threaten its territory, but will be hesitant to send in troops without an internationally-enforced no-fly zone.

Turkish tanks and armored vehicles took up positions on hills overlooking the besieged Syrian border town of Kobani on Monday as shelling by the Sunni Muslim militants intensified and stray fire hit Turkish soil.

Sep 22, 2014

Shared intelligence could stem flow of IS recruits via Turkey

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Telephone hotlines and schemes to strip suspected militants of their passports are among eye-catching strategies to deter European fighters from joining Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

But a more effective means – intelligence – is being under-utilised, according to diplomats and officials in Turkey, the main gateway from Europe to the militant’s self-proclaimed caliphate. Intelligence on recruiting networks is patchy and spy agencies are sometimes reluctant to share information, these officials say.

Sep 16, 2014

Turkish reluctance hurts U.S. plans for coalition against Islamic State

ANKARA/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – When Washington takes its bombing campaign against Islamic State fighters into Syria, the most it can probably hope for from one of its closest allies in the region will be grudging consent.

Turkey, a NATO member with a big U.S. air base and long borders with both Iraq and Syria, has made clear that it is still unconvinced by U.S. President Barack Obama’s plans to bomb Islamic State fighters in two of its neighbors.

Aug 29, 2014

New Turkish cabinet spells little policy shift, Erdogan stays dominant

ANKARA (Reuters) – Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu kept key members of Turkey’s economic management team in place and named Ankara’s point man on Europe as foreign minister in a new cabinet on Friday, moves signalling President Tayyip Erdogan’s continued domination.

Erdogan, who had dominated politics as prime minister since 2003, was sworn in on Thursday as Turkey’s first popularly-elected president, cementing his position as its most powerful leader of recent times.

Aug 26, 2014

Turkey struggles as “lone gatekeeper” against Islamic State recruitment

ISTANBUL/BEIRUT, Aug 26 (Reuters) – As Islamic State
insurgents threaten the Turkish border from Syria, Turkey is
struggling to staunch the flow of foreign jihadists to the
militant group, having not so long ago allowed free access to
those who would join its neighbour’s civil war.

Thousands of foreign fighters from countries including
Turkey, Britain, parts of Europe and the United States are
believed to have joined the Islamist militants in their
self-proclaimed caliphate, carved out of eastern Syria and
western Iraq, according to diplomats and Turkish officials.

    • About Nick

      "Based in Lagos since early 2008, responsible for coverage of Africa's most populous nation. Previously based in Senegal for four years, covering West and Central Africa, and before that in Germany and Britain."
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