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Turkey rethinking sectarian approach to region

ISIS advances in Iraq have finally forced a Turkish reassessment of its regional policies.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (L) and Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attend a news conference in Ankara June 16, 2014. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3U04T

The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq and other developments in the Middle East that Turkey failed to foresee are forcing Ankara to realign itself with its traditional Western allies and reappraise its regional policies. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is also now concerned that a prolonged conflict between Sunnis and Shiites is upon us, and he is therefore trying to move to the center, away from overtly sectarian positions.

Ankara is increasingly aware that a new balance of interests is developing in the region whereby Turkey will have to play some kind of an active role if it is to contribute to stabilizing the area and not be further marginalized, as it has been due to its policies in Iraq, Syria and Egypt. Turkish diplomats are not only focusing on the dialogue between Washington and Tehran in this context, but are also aware that circumstances are forcing relations between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) beyond the economic sphere and into the domain of security cooperation.

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