Steven A. Cook anticipates that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan will lean on Obama to ramp up involvement in Syria when he visits the White House next week:
Ankara has tried to enlist a deeply reluctant Washington to play a role in helping to topple the Assad regime through stepped up support for the rebellion, the establishment of safe zones within Syria’s territory to relieve pressure on Turkey, and a No Fly Zone. For Turkey, the Syrian civil war has all kinds of effects on its national security ranging from the challenges of playing host to anywhere between 325 and 450 thousand refugees and the complications the conflict has on the nascent peace process with the [nationalist Kurdish party] PKK and Ankara’s relations with Erbil.
There is a broader issue at play as well. Ankara now finds itself in a proxy war with Iran in Syria and would like Washington’s help rolling back Iranian influence. Turkish policymakers are confounded that Washington does not see Syria as a place to deal Tehran a blow. Although it seems that some change in U.S. policy is in the offing, Washington is clearly wary of a Syrian quagmire and does not believe that the end of Assad means the end of Iran’s role in Syria. Under these circumstances, whatever the Obama administration has to offer Prime Minister Erdogan, it is likely to fall short of what Ankara believes it needs.