Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Three Hypotheses on the Assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey

The assassination of Andrei Karlov, Russian Ambassador to Turkey, occurred against the backdrop of the civil war in Syria. In particular, it takes place amidst the dramatic turn of events following the seizure of Aleppo by Assad’s despotic regime, with the support of both Russia and Iran.

Claudia Cinatti

December 20, 2016
Facebook Twitter Share

The assassination of Andrei Karlov, Russian Ambassador to Turkey, occurred against the backdrop of the civil war in Syria. In particular, it takes place amidst the dramatic turn of events following the seizure of Aleppo by Assad’s despotic regime, with the support of both Russia and Iran.

It is a known fact that Russia and Turkey are on opposite sides of the winding and shifting trenches of the Syrian civil war. Erdogan is backing several bands of “rebels,” which could have a significant degree of tolerance towards ISIS, particularly to contain the advance of Kurdish militias linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Putin leads Bashar al Assad and is a member, along with Iran and Hezbollah, of the coalition that allowed the Syrian regime to survive and now, launch an offensive. The relationship between both countries hit rock bottom in November of 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft. However, after the failed coup attempt against Erdogan in July, the Turkish President shifted towards the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries.In fact, the evacuation of Aleppo, particularly the armed opposition groups and their families that remained in the city, was the product of an agreement reached by Russia, Turkey and Iran.

The first, most obvious hypothesis is that the person who shot the Russian diplomat in the back was driven by the defeat of the opposition camp in Syria at the hands of a Russian-backed regime. Supporting this hypothesis is the fact that there have been recent protests in Istanbul against Putin, in solidarity with the population of Aleppo that is still trapped in the areas under control of the opposition and that is now at the mercy of Assad’s forces. According to the media, Karlov’s assassin had yelled about the situation in Syria and Aleppo.

Moreover, the timing is no coincidence: It occurred only a day before the meeting between Russia, Iran and Turkey seemingly with the intention of determining the fate of the different sides in the Syrian civil war.

But there are two other hypotheses related to Turkey’s domestic situation. One points at the organization of preacher Fetullah Gülen, accused by Erdogan of instigating the attempt to overthrow him. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that Andrei Karlov, the shooter, was a member of a special force of the Turkish National Police, which was heavily influenced by the Gülenist movement before the coup.

The other hypothesis points to Islamic terrorist groups, either because they could be seeking some kind of revenge against Russia for the situation in Syria, or also against the Turkish government that accepted the situation created in Aleppo following Assad’s advance.

The excuse of “terrorism” could serve as a cover-up for Russia and Assad’s brutal offensive in Syria. It could also be used by Erdogan to justify his fierce persecution of the Kurdish minority and especially its most radical political organizations. Both hypotheses are thus functional to strengthening Erdogan’s Bonapartist turn.

Trump’s upcoming inauguration as President probably accelerated the actions aimed at breaking the catastrophic impasse between the opposing sides in Syria. Although the outcome is still unclear, military gains ultimately boost the position of the winning side at the diplomatic bargaining table. And in this sense, Russia’s position has improved with the capture of Aleppo.

Trump’s policy towards Syria or, more precisely, the methods and alliances to be used by the US in combating ISIS are still unknown. The new US President seems to have reversed Obama’s terms by showing a greater willingness to negotiate a solution with Putin while increasing hostility towards Iran. This is in line with the upcoming Trump administration’s possible geopolitical stance of reducing hostility towards Russia – which has been US state policy in the past few years – and instead, to focus on China.

The uprising of the Syrian people against Assad’s dictatorship, which was part of the the “Arab Spring,” was ultimately stifled by the regime’s brutal repression and the actions of different factions armed by Western powers and regional actors – the United States, France, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, among others – battling against each other in a geopolitical labyrinth and reactionary civil war that in the past five years has led to a catastrophe of historic dimensions for the Syrian people. The destruction of Aleppo is perhaps the most horrific symbol, although not the last, of this tragedy.

Translated by Marisela Trevin

Facebook Twitter Share

Claudia Cinatti

Claudia is an editor of our sister site La Izquierda Diario and a leading member of the Party of Socialist Workers (PTS) in Argentina.

Middle East-Africa

The United States Is Trapped in the Middle East

As a result of Israel’s offensive on Gaza, the United States is again becoming deeply entrenched in the Middle East. This is a humiliating blow to President Biden, who promised to reassert U.S. imperialism by moving away from direct involvement in the region.

Samuel Karlin

February 22, 2024

With Rafah in the Crosshairs, the Working Class Can Stop the Genocide in Gaza

As Israel prepares an invasion of Rafah, workers’ organizations around the world must take action before it's too late.

James Dennis Hoff

February 21, 2024
Aftermath of Israeli bombing of Rafah, Gaza.

Israel Told Palestinians to Evacuate to Rafah — then Bombed Them

After instructing civilians to evacuate south, Israel has bombed the southern border city of Rafah. It’s not about eradicating Hamas — it’s ethnic cleansing.

Sou Mi

February 12, 2024
Scenic sunset over the Mediterranean Sea

Yearning Waves: A Palestinian’s Tale of Dreams and the Stolen Sea

A Palestinian shares his pain and sadness over the hoops he must jump through in order to experience his own land.

MOST RECENT

Protesters at an evening protest in NY carry a sign that reads "from ferguson to palestine occupation is a crime"

This Black History Month, Let’s Fight for Palestinian Liberation

Black liberation struggles have always expressed solidarity with the struggle against the Zionist occupation of Palestine. This Black History Month, as Israel continues its genocide in Gaza, this tradition takes on a special importance.

Carmin Maffea

February 26, 2024
All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

#AllThatsLeftPod: Two Years of War in Ukraine

On this episode of the podcast, we discuss the war in Ukraine after two years, and the continued need for an independent, working-class solution.

Left Voice

February 24, 2024

The Organic Crisis in 2024: This Year’s Election Is a Battle for the Hearts and Minds of U.S. Workers

The battle between Trump and Biden is being shaped by a crisis of the political regime, requiring the intervention of both the judiciary and the union bureaucracy. The battle for the presidency is a battle for the working class and a battle over which approach to imperialism is best for competing with China and reestablishing US hegemony. As usual, the Democrats are taking up the cudgel of democratic rights in order to rally disaffected voters.

Sybil Davis

February 23, 2024

The Tide Is Turning: New Yorkers Are Speaking Out for Palestinian Liberation

New York's anti-zionist movement is is rising up and speaking out for Palestinian liberation.

Ana Orozco

February 23, 2024