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Turkey downplays IS threat, but concerns grow

As the Islamic state draws closer to the Turkish border and Ankara struggles to overcome its differences with the Iraqi administration, Turkey may be left to face the jihadist threat on its own.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) meets with Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in Ankara July 30, 2013.    REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX1252R

Turkey appears to be in a quandary, not knowing how to position itself against the Islamic State (IS) as the jihadist group expands into the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria and draws closer to the Turkish border. Ankara, which has been keeping public attention focused on Gaza for weeks, is trying to downplay the growing regional threat from IS, but is clearly concerned.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan — who is expected to be elected president on Aug. 10 — remains reluctant to call the group a terrorist organization, ostensibly in an effort not to endanger the lives of 49 Turks taken hostage in Mosul. The government has imposed a news blackout over the hostage crisis, claiming it is necessary to facilitate ongoing negotiations for the release of the hostages. Opposition parties claim, however, that the move is only intended to prevent embarrassing reporting that will undermine Erdogan’s campaign for the presidency.

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