August 23, 2011 | Quote

Will Obama’s Call for Assad to Step Down Pack a Punch?

Yet there are other reasons to believe that the calls for Assad to step down and the tougher sanctions won't have much of an impact on the Assad regime. For starters, regional heavyweights like Turkey and Saudi Arabia may have more clout with Syria than Western powers, and Turkish and Saudi Arabian officials have so far stopped short of demanding that Assad step down (they have ramped up their rhetoric against the Syrian regime, however). On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself admitted that “it's not going to be any news if the United States says Assad needs to go,” adding that “if Turkey says it, if [Saudi Arabia's] King Abdullah says it, if other people say it, there is no way the Assad regime can ignore it.” On Wednesday, Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News noted that “Ankara has not indicated willingness to lead an international coalition to conduct coercive diplomacy to push drastic measures on the Syrian administration, but instead it is seeking coherence with regional countries.” That regional consensus may not coalesce for some time, if at all. In fact, Tony Badran suggested earlier this week at Foreign Affairs that the U.S. and Turkey may be working at cross purposes:

United States policy is on the verge of calling for regime change, while Turkey continues to hold out hope for a reform program led by Assad, precisely in order to preserve its own influence as an intermediary between Iran, Syria, and Washington.