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Assassination of Russian Ambassador: was it an open threat to Erdogan?

The assassination of Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov may have quite unpleasant consequences for the shaky Russian-Turkish alliance.

Turkey’s police and press blame for it both Fethullah Gulen and Jabhat al-Nusra Front.

In the former case, the ground is that the murderer was a graduate of a school controlled by Gulen’s Hizmet, but it is not strong enough as in 2009 in Istanbul alone Hizmet’s colleges were attended by 30,000 people.

In the latter case, the ground is the terrorist’s slogans and “tactics.” Besides ISIS, only al-Nusra uses suicide murderers on a mass basis. Even more, the front supplies “shahids” to its allies for shares in trophies. But this time, al-Nusra pleaded not guilty.

So, Altintas might well have been a bigot, who simply had no future under Erdogan’s rule despite his prestigious education. There is no ground for doubting that Altintas was smart enough to be able to plot the act on his own: the graduates of Gulen’s schools are mostly smart guys. And this is one more argument against his ties with al-Nusra – for, as a rule, the front’s suicide bombers are illiterate zealots. The only problem of this conjecture is that this is just a conjecture as there is no direct proofs that Altintas had nothing to do with Jihadists.

In any case, the act was a very strong move. It was a signal that the Turks are facing the “9.11 effect” (as we know, al-Nusra is the Syrian “branch” of Al Qaeda), when “fighters for liberty” turn their arms against their former masters. If the Idlib’s gangs are driven to Turkey, the Turks will get a “gift” in the form of tens of thousands of cutthroats.

“Black” terror is typical of almost all “moderate” groups. So, some “non-terrorists” may well be inspired by the idea of taking revenge on the Turkish Alawites. One example is the Alawite massacres perpetrated by Turkey-sponsored Ahrar al-Sham in Al-Zarah last spring. The Free Syrian Army is also responsible for such crimes. So, the Turks will do their best to prevent Idlib’s fall.

The murder of the Russian ambassador may also be a sign of growing Islamic radicalism among Turkish law enforcers. Since the times of Erbakan (1996-1997), the Turkish police have been evolving into a preserve of “moderate Islamists.” In the meantime, Ahrar al-Sham has become the closest ally of al-Nusra, whose men, unlike ISIS fighters, have not lost their human faces and are not acting like cannibals with respect to non-Sunni minorities.

No surprise that over the last years, al-Nusra’s key sponsor, Qatar, has been doing its best to white wash the group’s image and to demonize al-Assad.

That very Turkish police were the key protector of Erdogan during the coup and now they are hesitant, which means an end for Erdogan’s regime as the opposition will certainly repeat their attempt to overthrow it, at least, in order to save their lives.

The act was an open challenge to Erdogan as Altintas was a guard at several events attended by him.

The “Sultan” is well aware of this threat, which has been proved by his last anti-Assad statement. One more proof is his demonstrative meeting with “a girl from Aleppo” – a meeting organized by Qatari political strategists and a girl whose father is certainly from al-Nusra. This also been a curtesy to own radicals and a signal to Russia, Iran and Syria that Turkey’s flexibility on Syria has limits.

But only problem is that the scenario when the “opposition” will get Idlib and al-Assad the rest is impracticable.

In other words, Russia and Turkey are close to one more conflict. The current weakness of the Turkish army is an argument against this possibility but this situation cannot last for long. Hence, Russia must be quick so as to avoid one more protracted conflict.

Yevgeny Pozhidayev, specially for EADaily

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