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.
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.
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.
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.