A mosque is surrounded by apartment buildings in Sanliurfa, southern Turkey, near the Turkey-Syria border, and the Syrian city of Kobani, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
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When Sunni rebels rose up against Syria's Bashar Assad in 2011, Turkey reclassified its protege as a pariah, expecting him to lose power within months and join the autocrats of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen on the scrap heap of the "Arab Spring".For Turkey, despite the confidence of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, elected this summer to the presidency after 11 years as prime minister and three straight general election victories, Assad's warning is starting to ring uncomfortably true. Erdogan has enraged Turkey's own Kurdish minority – about a fifth of the population and half of all Kurds across the region – by seeming to prefer that ISIS jihadists extend their territorial gains in Syria and Iraq rather than that Kurdish insurgents consolidate local power.Turkish officials fear this will provoke reprisals in Turkey by ISIS, activating networks it built during the two years the Erdogan government allowed jihadist volunteers to cross its territory to fight in Syria.Turkey is thus caught between two fires: the possibility of the PKK-led Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey reviving because of Ankara's policy toward the Syrian Kurds; and the risk that a more robust policy against ISIS will provoke reprisal attacks that could damage its economy and the tourist industry that provides Turkey with around a tenth of its income.
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