ISTANBUL (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan’s tightening grip on power is likely to meet little more than symbolic resistance from the West next year, as Turkey’s G20 presidency and the fight against Islamic State trump concerns about a slide towards authoritarianism.
Critics at home and abroad see Erdogan as an increasingly unpredictable leader, bent on a more powerful presidency and revenge on his political enemies. They fear he is taking Turkey ever further from Western standards on rule of law and free speech.
Turkish police have raided media outlets close to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, in what President Tayyip Erdogan defended as a necessary response to “dirty operations” by the government’s political enemies.
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Pope Francis said Islamic militants were carrying out a “profoundly grave sin against God” in Syria and Iraq, calling on Sunday for inter-religious dialogue and action against poverty to help end conflicts there.
The pope spoke on the last day of his weekend trip to Turkey, which is sheltering nearly 2 million refugees from Syria, thousands of Christians among them.
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Pope Francis begins a visit to Turkey on Friday with the delicate mission of strengthening ties with Muslim leaders while condemning violence against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.
His three-day trip comes as Islamic State insurgents have captured swathes of Iraq and Syria just over Turkey’s southern borders, declaring an Islamic caliphate and killing or driving out Shi’ite Muslims, Christians and others who do not share their ultra-radical brand of Sunni Islam.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.