In an article today in NOW Lebanon, Tony Badran reports that Hillary Clinton “dismissed a number of forward leaning options on Syria” proposed by Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to the White House. “What this means,” writes Badran, “is that Washington, which at one point subcontracted its Syria policy to Ankara, has now called the Turks off the regime of Bashar al-Assad.”
In a State Department press briefing this afternoon, spokesman Victoria Nuland says Badran’s characterization is not accurate and that Clinton did not tell the Turks to back off. And yet, according to Badran’s Turkish and U.S. sources, “Davutoğlu put forward a set of measures, including, among others, creating a buffer zone and/or a humanitarian corridor, as well as organizing and equipping the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The secretary of state responded in no uncertain terms that the Obama administration had no interest in pursuing any of these options. In fact, according to one account, Clinton told her Turkish counterpart no less than three times, ‘We are not there.’”
So where is the White House’s Syria policy? As Badran explains, the administration has found itself in the surreal position of siding closer with Assad’s Russian ally and at crossroads with its own regional allies – and, most significantly, in contradiction with own stated policy of regime change in Syria.