On December 19 an armed man murdered Russia’s Ambassador to Ankara, Andrey Karlov, in cold blood during a speech the victim was delivering to honor the opening of a photo exhibition “Russia through the eyes of the Turks” in the Turkish capital. It’s been reported that were three other victims.
The footage that appeared on the Internet shows how an armed man approached the ambassador from behind and began shooting at him, while shouting “Allah Akbar! Do not forget about Aleppo! Do not forget about Syria!”
The attacker was soon killed by local policemen and security guards. It is now reported that the terrorist known as Mevlut Mert Altintas was a former Turkish policeman that served in a quick response special unit, while the HaberTurk news agency claims that he was fired after the failed coup d’etat in July.
Both Russian and Turkish authorities describe the assassination as a terrorist attack, which was planned and executed to undermine improving Turkish-Russian relations. In official statements the leaders of the two states agreed to strengthen collective efforts in the struggle against international terrorism, while understanding the efforts of some hostile political forces to spin this attack in their favor by disrupting recent Russian-Turkish normalization along with the peace process in Syria.
It’s noteworthy that there’s a number of similarities with the provocation that took place in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, that provoked the First World War and the consequent demise of the four empires of the age, including the Ottoman and the Russian empires. However, this time around the alignment of forces has changed drastically, with the majority of European players aligning with the United States in a bid to prevent Russia from participating in the settlement of a number of international conflicts.
The choice of Turkey as a location for this provocation is clearly not an accident. Erdogan’s growing alienation from the West is not simply being questioned by the Western media, but also the leaders of Western Europe and the United States. A particularly harsh criticism of Erdogan has been voiced in recent months, when it became clear that the rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow was changing regional dynamics, with Ankara assisting Moscow in the fight against international terrorism in Syria. The recent fall of militants in Aleppo has infuriated Western political elites, who have not simply been taking increasingly anti-Russian actions, but also anti-Turkish ones.
The recent failed coup d’etat attempt in Turkey was organized by the establishment of the United States, its allies in Western Europe, while the aftermath of this coup resulted in Ankara losing its chance to join the European Union.
At this point we know that the incident with the downing of a Russian Su-24 warplane in November 2015 and the subsequent long-term deterioration of Russian-Turkish relations was also staged by the United States and its NATO allies. Even then, Washington tried to use Turkey to accelerate the deterioration of relations between Russia and NATO, which back was even recognized by The Washington Post and The Guardian at the time.
As for the assassination of the Russian ambassador that took place in Ankara, one can recall John Kirby’s threats to Russia that it was going to lose lives.
The timing of the provocation involving Russia’s ambassador has been carefully staged, timed to coincide with the vote of the Electoral College in a bid to undermine Donald Trump’s victory at the polls. In recent months, Trump has been bitterly opposed by the Obama administration which is unable to come to grips with the fact that Hillary Clinton has lost the presidential election. In the meantime we’ve heard all sort of anti-Russian stories aimed at spreading Russophobia and hysteria, starting with the so-called doping scandal and ending with the alleged involvement of “Russian hackers” supposedly being behind Donald Trump’s election victory.
The assassination of Russia’s ambassador has been universally condemned around the globe. And its curious that Russia and Turkey have displayed enough political wisdom and responsibility not to get caught in yet another confrontation that could end up in the same way that the murder in Sarajevo did a century ago. There’s little doubt that a thorough investigation of this provocative attack will uncover the true “masterminds” behind these events.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”