Ankara has sought to become an intermediary between NATO and the Assad
regime. On April 28, a Turkish delegation led by National Intelligence
Agency director Hakan Fidan met Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar and senior
officials, Middle East Newsline reported.
Officials said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has been in nearly
daily phone contact with the United States, particularly President Barack
Obama, regarding Syria. They said Erdogan has warned Assad to stop his
troops from firing on protesters or else face international sanctions.
"The current situation should not be turned into a deadlock," Turkish
President Abdullah Gul said.
Gul has overseen efforts by the Turkish leadership to determine policy
toward Syria. On April 28, the National Security Council discussed Turkish
options toward Assad amid unprecedented unrest in Syria.
Officials said NSC has drafted several options toward the Assad regime.
But they said the latest assessment by the intelligence community determined
that Turkey could no longer ignore the prospect that the revolt in Syria —
funded by Saudi Arabia and aided by other regional states — would topple or
significantly weaken Assad.
"The latest assessment is that Syria could turn into another Libya, with
prolonged civil war," an official said.
The official said the intelligence assessment envisioned massive
migration from Syria to such countries as neighboring Iraq, Lebanon and
Turkey. The assessment was quoted as saying that Assad would escalate the
military crackdown on the opposition, including the widespread use of live
"They [Assad] ended the stage of siege and they wanted to do more, but
they should move faster," Gul said.