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Friday, April 29, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Turkey, playing go between with West, warns
of 'prolonged civil war' in Syria

ANKARA — Turkey's intelligence community has assessed that the revolt in Syria could last for months.


Officials said the intelligence community has determined that the revolt within Syria would not be rapidly quelled by President Bashar Assad.

They said Assad's military and security forces have failed to defeat the rising protest movement, which has included the Muslim Brotherhood.

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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 fire.

"They [Assad] ended the stage of siege and they wanted to do more, but they should move faster," Gul said.

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