By Abdul Ruff
There can’t be two opinions that diplomatic envoys and missions the world over must at all times remain protected and immune while embassies and ambassadors should not do anything illegal or misuse their immunity.
The assassination of the Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov in Ankara obviously meant to further destabilize the fragile Turkey-Russia relations with earlier attempts had failed to create tensions between these two powers. The successful Pentagon efforts to force the Turkish military to shoot down a Russian war plane and the coup attempt in Turkey by the enemies of Islam and Turkey are some of the failed important anti-Islamic efforts recently to make Russia and Turkey fight a war. Turkey is a NATO member, making it highly unlikely that Russia would consider starting an out and out war with Turkey itself, especially when it is facing antagonism and severe economic sanctions from both USA and Europe. If Russia attacks Turkey, even by mistake, the NATO would certainly undertake attacks on Russia.
The terror attack on Russian diplomat is an awful crime that every civilized person should condemn. The shocking assassination of Russia’s ambassador in Ankara on December 18 – the first murder of a foreign diplomat in Turkey in decades – threatened to rupture fragile relations between the two countries, critical to a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict. The veteran diplomat was reportedly shot in the back by a 22-year-old off-duty policeman who cited revenge over Russia’s policies in Aleppo, Syria’s largest prewar city whose last rebel bastions were recently overtaken by the army of Russian-supported permanent unelected president dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Ambassador Andrei Karlov was giving a speech for the opening of a Russian embassy-sponsored exhibit at an Ankara art gallery. The gunman, who was identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas, wearing a dark suit and tie, fired at least eight shots, at one point walking around Karlov as he lay motionless and shooting him again at close range. The spectacle of 62-year-old Karlov’s assassination by a member of the Turkish security forces at a photography show meant to highlight Russian culture reinforced the sense of unease over the region’s conflict and complex web of alliances and relationships.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone shortly after the shootout. “This is a provocation to damage the normalization process of Turkish-Russian relations. But both the Russian and Turkish administrations have the determination not to fall for this provocation,” President Erdogan in said in a video message, adding that a joint Russian-Turkish commission would be formed to investigate the murder. “We must know who was directing the killer,” President Putin said.
Given that former super power in Eurasia and West came close to armed confrontation over the past years, and that the whole Middle East is being redrawn, the plotters thought now the attack would force Moscow to imitate a terror attack on Turkey. However, both these powers have used logic to decide otherwise. In a sign of just how much Russian-Turkish relations have evolved since last year, when Turkey’s downing of a Russian bomber jet over the Syrian border came close to escalating into a shooting war, the two regional rivals called the killing a provocation and vowed not to let it undermine the emerging co-operation between them.
In recent weeks, with the USA preoccupied in a messy presidential transition, Turkey and Russia have made attempts to negotiate a solution to the Syrian crisis without the United States and the United Nations. The evacuation of Turkish-backed rebels and civilians from eastern Aleppo is proof of that. Turkey, like every other country on the planet, has a duty to protect diplomatic missions without leaving the job exclusively to military as President Erdogan, the target of military assassins recently as part of the failed US-Germany-Israel joint attempt to destabilize the Islamist nation in Europe, himself is not safe at all. Moscow has understood this, and it is comforting that it has condemned the attack as an act of terrorism.
The terror attack as part of global Islamophobia came shortly before a breakthrough between Turkey and Russia was said to have been reached in terms of an agreement raises serious questions about the intentions of the plotters. Those who planned this awful crime knew exactly how to instantly get attention and news coverage, and seemingly were deliberately trying to poison the waters between Russia and Turkey.
Those who planned the attack on Russian diplomat in Istanbul, hover, have failed in their agenda of creating a clear wedge between Russia and Turkey repeatedly as these big powers have decided to work together to target the terrorist plans. True, the majority of the world disagrees with the Kremlin over its pro-Assad position in destabilized Syria, killing Muslims jointly with USA, among others as part of reducing the Islamic population and weaken Islamic faith as an act of terrorism.
Russia has been seeking an end to Turkish-backed efforts to bring down al-Assad’s government while, in recent months, Turkish goals have appeared to subtly shift toward building a buffer zone in northern Syria. Erdogan and other Turkish officials have said they would build camps to house refugees from Aleppo and possibly other parts of Syria in the areas liberated from the Islamic State group. Experts have said previously that this could even offer a way out of the standoff between the European Union and Turkey over the flow of refugees by allowing Ankara to move refugee camps from its territory to the buffer zone.
Hours after the assassination, pro-government media in Turkey were flush with speculations, fed by comments from anonymous officials that the attack was carried out on behalf of Fethullah Gulen, a charismatic Muslim preacher living in Pennsylvania the man supposedly behind the failed military coup in July. The Turkish government believes thousands of Gulen followers have infiltrated the country’s institutions. Over several months, members of the Turkish military, police, judiciary and academia have been arrested for alleged links to the Gulen organization.
It is of a paramount importance that all concerned parties should soon return to the negotiating table and focus all efforts on ending the ongoing bleeding of Syria. Terror wars indeed encourage and promote such terror attacks globally and all such acts of terror could be justified by the corporate media accelerating the process of trade in terror goods in the pretext of so-called Islamic terrorism. The murder of the Russian ambassador could hurt Turkey’s leverage in the Moscow talks. The incident might impair Ankara’s ability to diplomatically pressure Russia and it opens up more extensive pressuring channels for Moscow to force Ankara to end any proxy relations into Syria, effectively cutting off Ankara from Aleppo or its aftermath.
Both countries’ continued self-restraint is highly crucial to check any more attacks in Turkey and avoid further escalation in the region. The Turkish-Russia relationship will face its first test in the wake of the assassination. A three-way summit between Turkey’s Foreign Minister and his Russian and Iranian counterparts is to take place in Moscow. Iran is the other main backer of the Assad regime.
If anything, the attack on the Russian diplomat in Ankara will increase the intelligence and security partnership, besides stronger economic ties, between the two countries. However, given tense relations between Ankara and Moscow over the past year, centuries of historical rivalry and animosity, and colliding foreign policies in the carnage of the Syrian civil war, both have to be very cautious about the persistent enemy plans to run over the fragile ties between them.
Moscow and Ankara need each other as they seek to negotiate a ceasefire in Syria, something that would increase their international status and leverage in the war-torn country at the expense of the West. As Syria is being controlled by foreign forces and it has lost its sovereignty in real terms, Russia, Turkey and USA – the illegal stakeholders- must come together to end their joint war in Syria, end blood bath. Revival of Syrian sovereignty would also save Russia and Turkey from possible repressive measures by the governments against people.