Three days after Barack Obama issued a veiled threat toward the Russians suggesting some type of “retaliation” for the unproven claims that the Russians somehow influenced or “hacked” American elections, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was shot dead in Ankara, Turkey as he was giving a talk at an art gallery there.
The gunman was identified as a former Turkish police officer named Mevlut Mert Altintas. CNN reported early on that he was off-duty at the time but Turkish officials have left this detail open-ended so it is unclear whether or not he was truly on duty. According to a CNN report,
The longtime diplomat had begun to speak when Altintas, wearing a dark suit tie, fired shots in rapid succession, according to multiple witness accounts.
The ambassador fell to the floor. The gunman circled his body, visibly agitated as he smashed photos hanging on the wall, said Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici, who captured the incident.
“Allahu akbar (God is greatest). Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria! Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria!” Altintas is heard shouting in video of the incident.
“Only death will remove me from here. Everyone who has taken part in this oppression will one by one pay for it,” he said.
This much can be seen in a number of videos circulating around the internet, including this one by al-Jazeera. Altintas gave his speech while holding one finger in the air, a symbol of terrorists operating in Syria representing their twisted understanding of the oneness of God.
A Russian investigative team has been dispatched to Turkey to analyze the details of the incident. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated, “The important thing is to understand who is behind this crime,” he said. “We are convinced that the main goal of those who planned this barbaric act [is] to undermine the process of normalization of relations between Russia and Turkey, largely in order to prevent an effective fight against terrorism in Syria. This goal is futile. It will not work.”
Lavrov is perhaps right to point out that the goal of the attack was to harm Russian/Turkish relations. However, the attack may very well have been a message in a most direct fashion coming from the United States. After all, U.S. policymakers, Senators, and even the President himself have repeatedly threatened Russia with “retaliation” over the unproven claims of “hacking.”
Three days after the threats and the Russian Ambassador is assassinated. While this isn’t hard proof of American involvement, the motive clearly exists and the timing is certainly questionable.
Consider the words of Obama himself when, in an interview with NPR, he said:
“I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections … we need to take action,” Obama said. “And we will – at a time and place of our own choosing.
“Some of it may be explicit and publicised; some of it may not be.”
Other Western media mouthpieces have speculated as to what this “retaliation” might be such as:
Cyberattack on Russian networks or infrastructure; Release damaging information about Vladimir Putin; Target offshore accounts; Place malware inside Russian espionate networks; Interfere in Russian politics Economic sanctions.
But, according to outlets like the New York Times citing sources within the US’s foreign policy circles, the ability of the United States to successfully pull off a major cyberattack is not as realistic as one might think. For instance, the NYT writes,
But while Mr. Obama vowed on Friday to “send a clear message to Russia” as both a punishment and a deterrent, some of the options were rejected as ineffective, others as too risky. If the choices had been better, one of the aides involved in the debate noted recently, the president would have acted by now.
However, as Tony Cartalucci expertly states,
The cold-blooded assassination of a Russian ambassador in the heart of Turkey, however, is a very effective “retaliation,” not only for Russia’s role in balancing against the Western media’s influence, effectively undermining the West’s monopoly over global public perception, but also for confounding US geopolitical objectives across the Middle East – particularly in Syria, and particularly in the aftermath of Aleppo’s liberation.
The assassination – a crime and even an act of war by any account – was apparently carried out by a militant drawn from the ranks of terrorist organizations armed, trained, and funded by the United States and its regional allies, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and even Turkey. And despite this fact, should the US be involved in the assassination, it would be difficult to prove. And even if it was proven, it would be difficult to convince the global public that the US would make the jump from very publicly considering benign “cyberattacks” for the past week to assassinating a foreign diplomat.
Beyond simply “sending a message” as US policymakers sought to do – it also undermines alleged progress made between Ankara and Moscow regarding the former’s role in the ongoing proxy war with Syria. The assassination strains any such progress, even threatening to rollback gains painfully made since Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane over Syria in November of 2015.
While evidence is still forthcoming regarding the assassination, the US – through its own insistence on publicly and repeatedly threatening Moscow with retaliation – has made itself one of the primary suspects behind the brutal killing. Considering the US’ role in creating, arming, funding, and directing terrorists across the region for years – the US is responsible indirectly at the very least.
While relations seemed to have warmed a bit between Russia and Turkey over the past several months, the fact is that the madman Erdogan is still very much in the pocket of the United States and NATO machine that goaded Turkey into supporting terrorists and the war on Syria from the start. With this in mind, it is the responsibility of Turkey to provide security for the Russian ambassador, a perfect window of opportunity if one were complicit in the assassination conspiracy to begin with.
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