Middle East Turmoil

Albright looks to Turkey for help in war on ISIS

Albright on Turkey's huge problem
Albright on Turkey's huge problem
Albright: It's pretty messy out there
Albright: It's pretty messy out there
Albright: Ground forces needed but not necessarily US
Albright: Ground forces needed but not necessarily US
Albright: US needs to explain stakes better
Albright: US needs to explain stakes better

Madeleine Albright expects Turkey to be more involved in the fight against ISIS even though the strategic country hasn't signed onto the U.S.-led coalition against the terrorist group.

"They are still in the process of trying to assess what's going on. They are a NATO partner, they are obviously very important geographically ... so, I hope they are looking at this very carefully," the former secretary of state said Tuesday on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

In an interview at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York, Albright also pointed to Turkey's growing challenge of addressing Syrian refugees flooding into the country.

Read MoreNY event shows Clinton's 'elite' image

When discussing U.S. action against ISIS, she said she wishes the Obama administration could have stepped in earlier and "had looked a little bit more at which groups within the Syrian rebel group were useful and we could work with."

"As somebody who was involved in this, you always wish you had done something earlier and you wonder whether the intelligence is the right intelligence," said Albright, who played a key role in the Clinton administration's intervention in Bosnia. "But I do think we have to track this very very closely."

She said Monday night's airstrikes in which five Arab countries joined the United States against ISIS showed that Washington was not going it alone.

Read MorePresident Obama: 'Not America's fight alone'

While there is a need for ground forces, Albright said, they should not necessarily be American. "Having the regional countries take a role in it, is not only important for their physical capability, but also the message that it sends: This is not just America against the Middle East," she said.

Albright said the war in Iraq was "a real mistake and a disaster" that negatively affected world opinion on U.S. interventions. "The consequences of that war is what President Obama still has to deal with," she said.

Read MoreIt's official: US joins fight against Asia pirates

Still, she added, the U.S. must engage in the world and "to explain the stakes better" to the public.

"We're not as isolated as people think. Unfortunately 9/11 proves that," she said. "Whether it's disease or climate change, I do think the U.S. has to be involved."