Turkey does not want to get dragged into the Syrian conflict, but it is already dealing with thousands of refugees fleeing across its border and is concerned about the destabilizing aspects of a prolonged conflict next door.
Syria’s rebels have opened up a corridor from the embattled city of Aleppo to the Turkish border. But they say they need more and heavier arms to make further progress, and are pressing the United States to provide such weapons as anti-aircraft missiles for what some say could still be a long fight ahead.
The US currently is providing communications equipment, and some special operations forces are reported to be on the ground in Turkey – primarily to provide intelligence on Al Qaeda’s role in the anti-Assad rebellion and presumably to offer some assistance to the rebels. But so far the Obama administration has stopped short of a more robust intervention.
Clinton’s added stop in Turkey at the end of a 10-day swing through sub-Saharan Africa underscores the administration’s growing concerns in the face of evidence of growing involvement by outside players that the US would like to keep out of a post-Assad Syria.
On Thursday the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, described Iran’s role in Syria as “nefarious” for how it and its proxy, Hezbollah, are providing assistance to a regime that is massacring its own people.