Turkey, once a close friend of the Syrian regime, is now trying to gain a leading role in the region by providing supports to the Syrian opposition that aims to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, some Syrian analysts said.
Soon after the outbreak of unrest in Syria in mid March 2011, Turkey was on the vanguard of countries that publicly announced hostility to al-Assad's government, mobilized anti-Syria attitudes and released fiery statements that stunned observers and most of the Syrians.
Turkey's statements dampened sometimes, but were fueled again after a short lull without any clear explanation. Some argue that the let-up is because of regional pressures on Turkey, mainly from Iran, Syria's close ally.
Hamdi Abdullah, a political analyst, attributed the change in Turkey's attitude to its ruling Justice and Development Party's Islamic background and its relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, in addition to the country's desire to improve its relations with the United States and NATO countries.
Another political analyst, Ghiath Sahloul, suggested that the Turkish government wanted to "have a leading role in the Arab region and spread its Islamic methodology to the Arab world."
"It's now being used as a tool in the hand of NATO," he added.
Turkey has offered safe haven to main leaders of the Syrian opposition and anti-Assad militia the Syrian Free Army, and will host in Istanbul on April 1 the second conference of the so-called "Friends of Syria" alliance, which includes about 50 countries, after the first conference held in Tunisia last month.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said recently that the conference would moot the possibility of uniting the Syrian opposition forces, without shunning aside the idea of arming the opposition.
He stressed that his country would keep standing alongside the Syrian opposition, saying that the Syrian government did not live up to its commitment to halt violence and introduce democratic changes. He also urged the international community to undertake drastic measures to halt the bloodshed in Syria.
Such a statement, according to analysts, aims to obstruct the mission of the joint special envoy of the United Nations and Arab League, Kofi Annan, who is currently touring Russia and China to discuss the Syrian crisis.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the UN Security Council gave a strong backing to Annan's six-point plan to end the violence in Syria, which includes proposals for a cease-fire initiated by the Syrian government, a daily halt in fighting for the delivery of humanitarian aid and treatment for the wounded, and talks between the government and opposition.
The plan did not refer to the armament of the opposition or the toppling of al-Assad's regime.
Observers believe that Turkish officials are scrambling and experiencing floundering positions when dealing with the Syrian issue. When some argue that the Turkish government is searching for a safe exit to avoid regional isolation in light of other countries' convergence on a political solution in Syria, others raise speculations that Turkey is about to wage an imminent war on Syria with fairly certainty that the Syrian regime is assisting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party to launch attacks against Turkey.
Arab and Western diplomats reportedly disclosed that some Turkish units affiliated with the "special gendarmerie" are moving gradually from Ankara towards the Syrian-Turkish borders as a first step towards establishing a buffer zone in Syria.
Imposing a buffer zone is a "declaration of war," Sahloul said.
Ahead of the Istanbul meeting, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland sent a number of implicit messages to its allies, calling on them to deal with the new developments on the ground.
Nuland said that the first Friends of Syria meeting held in Tunisia last month has set a very clear agenda within the frame of an immediate end to violence in Syria, unhindered aid access and the start of the political process.
"We look forward to the agenda to be set by the Turkish government to deepen and enlarge future reconciliation," Nuland said.
Observers believe that the U.S. statement was devoid of terms such "civil war" or arming the opposition, thus calling on its allies to be compatible with this new attitude. However, it is unclear whether Turkey is going to ride the wave and go with the flow.