It was a mean shot in the back. Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, was shot dead while he was inaugurating a photo exhibition “Russia through the eyes of Turks” in Ankara’s local art gallery.
The exhibition was meant to build bridges between the two countries. As per reports, the killer, in his early 20s, was an officer in Special Force Department of the Turkish police. He was later shot down in a crossfire with his colleagues.
The dramatic events point to a destructive phase in Turkey, the region, and the world. The purge that has been conducted in Turkey since the failed coup attempt seems to have weakened the country’s political and governance system and public anger forms a dangerous layer of instability in the society.
This streak can be potentially even more explosive if one considers people who resent the regime retain their offices and sympathize with their colleagues. Erdogan, it seems, has not been able to strengthen security to the extent that it prevents drastic spread of extremism.
The assassination raises a lot of questions on the Turkish security forces. Since the heinous act was carried out by a police officer, can any ambassador or official figure feel safe in Turkey? Not to mention civilians who are always the least protected.
Motivated by Aleppo
This young terrorist was apparently motivated by Aleppo and the Syria war. He said that whoever has a hand in this oppression [Aleppo and Syria] shall account for it. This somehow takes us to the possible roots of the tragedy and the forces behind the attack.
The most convenient option for the Turkish government is to accuse Gulen supporters for what has happened. It is easier than admitting that Turkey is losing its fight against extremism and against extremists crossing the border with Syria and setting up terrorist cells in the heart of the country.
These threats are extreme, dangerous and visible considering the devastating war taking place next door. To admit the infiltration of extremists inside the law enforcement bodies is like admitting the country is practically a failed state.
Assassination of Ambassador Karlov is also a strong reminder that some forces are opposed to the Russia-Turkey rapprochement and cooperation. In this sense the attack can be seen as a provocationMaria Dubovikova
Even if one admits that the failed coup was mastered by Gulenists it does not deny the fact that at least some of those who lost their jobs for supporting the coup would not be brainwashed into becoming al-Nusra or ISIS supporters.
The media should get its share of the blame for brainwashing and sometimes making blind propaganda. When the media caters to emotions instead of reason and does not give responsible analysis, things are bound to go out of control.
Some worrying reactions praising the murderer and depicting him as a hero – as if he took revenge against Russia for its crimes in Syria – also shows how strongly the media has influenced understanding of the situation.
If one were to assume that this is the right approach, the logic suggests that all US ambassadors should be killed for wherever the country has intervened. This rather dangerous logic suggests the extent of brainwashing that lead to miserable events such as these.
Provoking Russia-Turkey relations?
Assassination of Ambassador Karlov is also a strong reminder that some forces in and outside the region are opposed to the Russia-Turkey rapprochement and cooperation. In this sense the attack can be seen as a provocation as if it was an attempt to repeat the scenario of downed Russian jet that resulted in a seven-month paralysis in bilateral relations.
However, in the current circumstances, even if this were supposed to be a provocation, the expected outcome was miscalculated. Russia and Turkey are not interested in spoiling bilateral ties as now, more than ever, they need them to be strong. This has already been soundly articulated by their leaders.
Erdogan called Putin to inform him about the circumstances of the assassination and the two agreed that this was a provocation. Putin later met Turkish foreign minister who arrived in Moscow for talks between Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign and defense ministers over Syria.
It is noteworthy that the attack on the Russian ambassador has happened on the eve of the meeting and this gives us ground to assume that some forces are against Russia-Iran-Turkey cooperation over Syria.
United against terror
Whatever their intentions, the terrorists have failed. History of Russia suggests that tragedies make the country stronger and its people more united. Turkey and Russia will most likely stand more united and Russia will put more pressure on Erdogan.
Russia’s position will not change as long as it believes that strong resistance on the path you take means you have taken the right approach. The stronger the resistance, the closer you are to your goals. The consequence of the attack is more dramatic for Turkey than for Russia.
Assassination of an ambassador is a strong signal for any country, especially if you have enemies within and beyond your borders. Taking right decisions and focusing on bringing terrorists to justice is the only way forward.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
Maria Dubovikova is a President of IMESClub and CEO of MEPFoundation. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations [University] of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia), now she is a PhD Candidate there. Her research fields are in Russian foreign policy in the Middle East, Euro-Arab dialogue, policy in France and the U.S. towards the Mediterranean, France-Russia bilateral relations, humanitarian cooperation and open diplomacy. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme