Turkey holds coalition talks as new elections loom
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is set to meet the leader of Turkey's pro-secular party on Thursday for talks to decide whether their ideologically opposed parties can form a coalition government. But many in the ruling party favour new elections instead, and prospects for an alliance look dim.
Davutoglu's Islamic-rooting ruling party lost its majority in elections in June, forcing it to seek a coalition alliance to remain in power. Elections are likely to be called if no government is formed by the end of next week.
A sharp surge of violence in Turkey and the more front-line role taken by the country in a US-led campaign against the Islamic State (IS) group has increased pressure on the ruling party — which currently heads an interim government — to form a coalition alliance and end the political uncertainty.
Dozens have been killed in renewed clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish rebels, while Turkish jets have conducted air raids on IS targets in Syria and Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq.
US jets on Wednesday launched their first airstrikes against IS targets in Syria after taking off from a Turkish base, kicking off a key new phase in the campaign against the extremists.
A US drone had last week executed a single lethal airstrike against an IS target in Syria but this was the first time manned US fighter jets had carried out raids after taking off from Turkey's strategically-located Incirlik base.
Using the Incirlik base outside the city of Adana in southern Turkey drastically cuts the distance needed for the US jets to fly to northern Syria compared with other launch bases further afield in the Middle East.
Turkey's Dogan news agency said three US fighter jets took off from Incirlik Wednesday evening.
Last month, Turkey agreed to open up the base to coalition planes for bombing IS targets in Syria following months of tough negotiations.