On paper, Russian ambassador to Turkey – Andrei Karlov – was killed by a “radical Islamic terrorist”, the 3 magic words President-elect Donald Trump said both President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had refused to use, even after America was terrorized by Muslim terrorists either associated or inspired by terror group Daesh (ISIS, ISIL, IS).
As the incoming 45th President of the United States, Trump has said it again – the attack on Ambassador Karlov was carried out by a “radical Islamic terrorist”. After all, the gunman had shouted “Allahu Akbar,” and continued in Arabic – “We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Muhammad, for jihad.”
However, things get interesting and complicated when the gunman, 22-year-old Mevlüt Mert Altintas, was actually a member of Turkish riot police. It was reported that off-duty Mr. Mevlüt, a graduate of Izmir Police School, entered the art gallery using his police ID, telling security “I am protecting the Russian ambassador,” though this could not be verified.
Footage taken after he gunned down Ambassador Karlov showed him chanting – “Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria!” – suggesting the gunman was motivated by Russia’s role in the “Battle of Aleppo” and eventually the liberation of the city of Aleppo under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Gunman Mevlüt also yelled “We die in Aleppo, you die here.”
The fact that a police under Turkish President Recep Erdogan administration fired at least eight times and killed a top Russian diplomat in Turkey is bad news to Russia-Turkey relationship. It brings back the memory where a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber aircraft last year, widely seen as an action by “hidden hand” from the U.S.
To make matter worse, Erdogan has recently declared that his country’s armed forces were not just in Syria to battle ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists but were on a mission to overthrow the Syrian regime under President Bashar al-Assad. Therefore, it should not be a surprise if Erdogan had arranged for a radicalized Turkish police to gun down the Russian ambassador.
Even if Erdogan administration didn’t architect the assassination, at least the Turkish Intelligence knew about the attempt but had chosen to do nothing. But why would Erdogan government allow it to take place to begin with? Technically, it was a foolish move to let an assassin, who happens to be an active Turkish police, to kill a Russian ambassador.
Here’s the beauty of mind games. Even if President Erdogan was the culprit behind the plot, nobody would think he would be so dumb to do it. That’s the normal script in most of Hollywood films. So, strategically, it was a brilliant plan. Turkey can easily convince Russia that it must be the CIA who had killed its ambassador in order to prevent a Moscow-Ankara relationship from being strengthened.
The dumb Barack Obama’s warning, whining and bitching about “payback” for Russian meddling in the U.S. recent presidential election has further inflamed the conspiracy theory that the U.S. president ordered the assassination. Even if CIA didn’t involve directly, the U.S. agency has at least its fair share of getting NATO secret service to do the dirty work.
With the killing of Ambassador Andrei Karlov, Turkey can also put the blame on US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey says is behind the failed coup in July aimed at toppling President Erdogan. Although Mr. Gulen has denied the accusation, the U.S. is now pressured to hand over the self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, U.S. to the Turkish government.
Other creative minds have gone the extra miles and offered another explanation – the whole assassination drama was fake and never happened. The video of the shooting, if analysed, suggests sound of blanks being shot with no sounds of shell casings hitting the floor. There was also lacked of blood despite claim that the gunman had fired 8 shots.
The most puzzling part is the fact that a top envoy from Russia could be gunned down so easily. Either the Russian FSB (Federal Security Service) sucks in protecting their ambassador, or they deliberately welcomed the radical Islamic terrorist to do his job. So, did Russia play their part in the drama too, so that both Turkey and Russia could blame the shooting on NATO or CIA?
Turkey’s Prime Minister, Binali Yıldırım, referred to “dark forces” operating behind the assassin. Putin referred to Karlov’s assassination as a “provocation” aimed at derailing Russo-Turkish ties. Both countries believe in a western conspiracy to set them against each other. Really, is NATO or CIA that innocent that they have been set up by Erdogan and Putin?
Of course, there’s no proof that either NATO or CIA plays any role in the assassination at all. The guy who did the killing was Turkey’s own police. And it was the Turkish and Russian secret services that screwed up, unable to protect the ambassador. But the U.S. does have a compelling reason to kill – desperately preventing Turkey, the only Muslim-majority member of NATO, from joining Russia.
Still, it’s hard to believe that the Russian Intelligence and FSB could do such a sloppy job in protecting their ambassador. Chances are President Vladimir Putin knew about the assassination plot but ignored it anyway. He has a bigger fish to fry – to use evidence against Turkey behind the scene while accusing the U.S. and NATO as the cold-blooded killer.
President Erdogan is a cunning and corrupt leader capable of anything. If he could staged coups d’état on himself, he could do the same on Russian Ambassador Karlov. President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, is a genius tactician and strategist who could turn a misfortune into an opportunity. For now, the blames are on the U.S. because the stupid President Obama yells “payback”.
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