In the stream of expert assessments and opinions that came pouring in after the murder of the Russian ambassador in Turkey, it would be interesting to know the opinion of Russian experts about the killer’s motive and on who could be behind this crime. In this regard, to comment on this issue we turned to the Russian political scientist, Ph. D. in History, an expert on the Caucasus and the Middle East Anar Sadykhov.
Who do you think is behind the assassination in Ankara? Who could benefit from that?
The murder of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Turkey Andrei Karlov had an international resonance and gave rise to different versions of possible instigators of the crime.
Some Turkish media suggested that he is a Kurdish activist and that possibly PKK, which claimed responsibility for the latest terrorist attacks, is behind this crime as well. But it seems rather unlikely, because Kurds leave no hope for possible cooperation with Russia in the future, as it was in the past, particularly during the Soviet Union, hoping for the quickly changing Russian-Turkish relations, therefore exposing themselves in this way would mean driving the last nail into the coffin of those expectations.
The Russian public is actively discussing the possible involvement of the US and Western intelligence agencies, but it’s more like a conspiracy theory, because if we assume that this fact did happen and will be made public, it will lead to a huge scandal and further deterioration of already complicated relationship between the parties. Those in the western capitals understand that perfectly, therefore they would not, in principle, make this reckless move.
Turkish officials claimed the involvement of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamic preacher living in the USA, seeking, in their opinion, to destabilize the relations between Russia and Turkey. The latter, in turn, condemned the crime and expressed his condolences to the people of Russia. This of course does not mean that he could not be the initiator of the ambassador’s murder, but dark clouds settled over him already. The US side is struggling to counter persistent demands for Gulen’s extradition to Turkey, so sending a man to commit this attack, who went in college patronized by the Hizmet movement, thus clearly drawing parallels with himself, doesn’t make much sense and gives the Turkish official authorities an additional reason for new accusations and forces the US to come to terms with the inevitability of extradition. Gulen knows all that very well, that’s why there are no benefits for him in the Ankara shooting.
The most obvious is the version of involvement of radical Islamic groups, which were in fact defeated in eastern Aleppo and suffered serious losses, and the attacker shouted namely the words of vengeance, including in broken Arabic. But could those groups organize the attack themselves, reach out to a police officer, who had provided security for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or were they helped or partially involved in this operation, being used covertly, as they say in the security services. Most likely, a more powerful actor with serious financial and organizational resources is behind these events. It may be the two Gulf countries, namely, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They are actively present in the Syrian theater of operations and the events develop not according to their script. Moreover, Turkey, which had been actively interacting with the KSA, suddenly turned around toward rapprochement with not only Russia, but also with Iran, a strategic opponent of Saudis in the whole Middle Eastern space. If the triangle of Moscow-Tehran-Ankara will become full-fledged and strategic, it will change the balance of power not only in Syria but also in the entire region. Riyadh can’t let that happen, because it threatens its vital interests and it is likely that they decided to perform this subtle combination: involve a Turkish special services officer and thus discredit them. So much so that during a recent meeting of the foreign ministers in Moscow, Iranian bodyguard, who was standing behind his minister, most of the time was staring at his Turkish colleague and the situation is that security within the territory of Turkey cannot be guaranteed to absolutely any officials. And the second aspect is to gently dump the murder on Gulen, knowing that the authorities will gladly support this version, because it completely fits into the paradigm of their thinking, regardless of the actual initiator.
The attempt to drive a wedge between Russia and Turkey failed, as stated by Vladimir Putin, but they managed to shake the authority of Erdogan as the country’s leader, who does not control the internal situation, because explosions and attacks on military and police occur almost daily, and in addition, now the ambassador of a friendly country is killed. Given the dynamics of events, there is reason to believe that it was, unfortunately, not the last big terrorist attack in the Turkish Republic.