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Turkey downplays IS threat, but concerns grow

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Semih İdiz, Al-Monitor, August 8, 2014: “Turkey downplays IS threat, but concerns grow”

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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