Update (via Stratfor):
The attack comes at a bad time: Moscow and Ankara have only recently restored diplomatic ties after Turkey downed a Russian aircraft in November 2015. Though the attack will strain relations between the two countries, however, it is not likely to rupture them altogether. Moscow will lean heavily on Ankara for intelligence-sharing and will demand more autonomy in protecting its assets. Yet neither country is keen to backtrack on the economic and diplomatic progress made over the past year. And now that Turkish forces are active deep within Syria, Ankara needs to maintain a working relationship with Moscow now more than ever. Turkey’s foreign minister is scheduled to attend a meeting in Moscow tomorrow with his Russian and Iranian counterparts to discuss Syria. Russian officials have confirmed that the meeting will still take place.
If the attack on the Russian Ambassador is in fact an angry response to Moscow’s involvement in the retaking of Aleppo, it is a violent aberration of recent anti-Russia protests, which have been mostly peaceful, at diplomatic buildings worldwide.
Update (via BBG):
The man who killed Russian ambassador Sergey Karlov earlier on Monday in Ankara was an active duty Turkish police officer, Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu says in press conference.
- Assassin was Mevlut Mert Altintas, born in 1994 in Aydin, Turkey; he was serving at the time of the murder on the Ankara police force
- Soylu says attack was “a terror attack against Turkish- Russian relations” and a “provocation”
- Soylu says assassin’s ties to any groups are being investigated; declines to take questions after statement
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the fact that the Russian ambassador to Turkey was just assassinated in Ankara. This is sure to heighten tensions between the Russians and the Turks at a time when cooperation between the two is one of the keys to peace (or some semblance of peace) in Syria.
Don’t forget, in November of 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 near the Turkish border – one of the pilots was killed. The loss of the ambassador might just be “strike two” as it were for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the eyes of Vladimir Putin.
The assailant, dressed in a suit, shot the ambassador in the back while screaming “Allahu Akbar” suggesting a connection to Russia’s intervention in Syria. Here’s a quick rundown of the headlines from Bloomberg:
Russia’s envoy to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, has been shot dead in Ankara by a gunman in an assassination apparently linked to Moscow’s role in Syria’s civil war. Here are key facts and reaction.
- Gunman shouted about Aleppo, the Syrian city where rebels were defeated this month by Russian-backed government forces, as he carried out the attack at an art exhibit, CNN- Turk television says
- Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek says man who killed ambassador was a police officer
- Attack comes amid reconciliation efforts between Russia, Turkey as nations seek to improve ties after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet over Syria last yr
- “While Putin is unlikely to burn bridges with Turkey, he is very likely to adopt a tougher stance in Syria against the rebels,” said Nihat Ali Ozcan, an analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation in Ankara
- “Russia may still be talking to Turkey at the table but it will probably have a much more aggressive stance on the ground in Syria”
- Tougher Russian stance toward Turkey could delay return of Russian tourists; lira weakened after shooting to trade 0.8% down at 3.5337/dollar at 9 pm in Istanbul
- Attack highlights fragile security situation in Turkey, where dozens of security personnel have been killed in past 10 days as a conflict between govt, separatist Kurds intensifies
- Incident unlikely to change development of conflict in Syria, says Ayham Kamel, director of Middle East and North Africa at Eurasia
“Broadly we’re moving toward a position in Syria where the regime will incrementally consolidate its control over the trajectory of the conflict,” Kamel says “The Russian support for the Syrian regime will remain on track and the plan to combine a military campaign initially with support for a political solution at a later stage will not significantly change
The attack “will throw a wrench in the progress of a fragile Russian-Turkish rapprochement, especially as Ankara has been the main international supporter of the forces affiliated with the Free Syrian Army which have recently been forced to evacuate Aleppo,” Wolfango Piccoli, co-president at Teneo Intelligence, says in a note e-mailed to Bloomberg.
The Turkish lira is plunging in the wake of the attack:
Here’s the (graphic) video: