June 27, 2012
Another urgent bid for the US to lead an allied offensive against Syria’s ruling regime fell on deaf ears in Washington. It came Tuesday, June 26, from Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who is spoiling for action after a Syrian anti-air ambush downed a Turkish reconnaissance jet flying over Latakia last Friday.
In several phone calls to President Barack Obama, Erdogan argued forcefully that the incident provided the perfect opening for a Western-Muslim-Arab offensive, according to DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources. This offensive, said the Turkish leader, could drive into Syria, create no-fly zones, attack regime and military targets and establish safe zones for rebels and refugees. The Turkish army, air force and navy stood ready for immediate action, he said, but the US must take the military lead in this operation – and not just “from behind,” as in Libya.
Obama replied the time had not yet come for direct US military intervention in Syria, and covert operations by American, British, Turkish and French special operations forces should continue inside the country.
Erdogan maintained that covert tactics would neither stop the bloody violence in Syria nor upend the Assad regime. Only the open exercise of American military might and logistic and military capabilities could work and without it Turkey was constrained from going forward on its own.