December 20, 2016 -
By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ - translated by J. Arnoldski -
Yesterday, the shocking news came that Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, was murdered. First of all, I would like to express sincere condolences to the family and friends of the murdered diplomat and all of the diplomatic corps of Russia. All of Russia has lost someone, as Andrey Karlov was killed for Russia’s interests and became a hostage of the very fragile alliance between Russia and Turkey.
Allow me to express some brief considerations on this incident and attempt to answer two key questions: who benefits from this (and who stands behind this murder) and what consequences should be expected?
At the end of last June in a commentary on the restoration of relations between Russia and Turkey, I concluded that relations between the two countries were being restored until the next crisis. The differences between the two countries on many issues are quite large, and the murder of the Russian ambassador is a painful blow to the soft spot of Russian-Turkish relations. Unfortunately, this murder is just the tip of the iceberg of contradictions. In early December, Turkish students staged a series of protests at the Russian Consulate in Istanbul against Moscow’s military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and in particular against Russia’s operations in Aleppo. These protests lasted several days and attracted a large number of participants. Thus, for a significant part of Turkish society, the murderer of the Russian ambassador automatically becomes a hero.
As cynical as this may sound, the murder of our diplomat is first and foremost a blow to the Erdogan regime. Despite the joy of restoring relations with Russia, Turkish society does not support Russia’s policy in Syria. I believe that Vladimir Putin extracted more benefit from the restoration of relations between the two countries than his Turkish colleague. In Syria, the situation is overall unfolding according to the Russian plan, which is a blow to the Turks' interests and sympathies.
The news of the arrest of the murderer’s family by Turkish policy hits hard at the authority of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His authority is declining due to the endless terrorist attacks against policemen and soldiers that swept the country last week. I think that it is no coincidence that the terrorist attacks on Turkish security forces preceded the murder of the Russian ambassador.
At risk of tripping into conspiracy theories, I would still suggest that those who ordered yesterday’s terrorist attack are most likely forces that are outside of Turkey itself. The synchronicity of the explosions arranged by the Kurds; the fact that the murderer was an officer of the police special forces (which shows Erdogan that he is not fully in control of the security structures, which is pushing him to launch repressions against police); and, mainly, the fact that the murder and cooling of relations between Russia and Turkey is beneficial to Turkey’s Atlanticist allies - all of these are no coincidence. The Atlanticists are afraid of Russia’s successes in Turkey and the rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara.
Therefore, the shooting of Andrey Karlov poses a serious threat to Russia’s policy in the Middle East and Russian-Turkish relations. I hope that both of our counties will, without unnecessary emotions, be able to overcome this crisis, and that those behind this terrorist act will be found or at least identified. For Erdogan himself, this terrorist attack means a new round of political confrontation with elements of civil war. The coup that was thwarted in mid-July thanks to Russia’s help could begin to develop in a new form.
Follow us on Facebook!
Follow us on Twitter!