Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at an Ankara art exhibit on Monday evening by a lone Turkish gunman shouting “God is great!” and “don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” in what Russia called a terrorist attack.
The gunman, who was described by Ankara’s mayor as a policeman, also wounded at least three others in the assault, which was captured on Turkish video, before he was killed by other officers in a shootout.
The assassination instantly vaulted relations between Turkey and Russia to a new level of crisis over the protracted Syria conflict on Turkey’s southern doorstep. It came after days of protests by Turks angry over Russia’s support for Syria’s government in the conflict and the Russian role in the killings and destruction in Aleppo, the northern Syrian city.
The envoy, Andrey G. Karlov, was shot from behind and immediately fell to the floor while speaking at an exhibition, according to multiple accounts from the scene, the Contemporary Arts Center in the Cankaya area of Ankara.
The gunman, wearing a dark suit and tie, was seen in video footage of the assault shouting in Arabic: “God is great! Those who pledged allegiance to Muhammad for jihad. God is great!”
He shouted, “Allahu akbar!” Don’t they always. Here’s the video:
This is a clarifying moment. Yesterday I found myself at a public event sitting next to a French man who lives here in Louisiana. We were talking geopolitics. He told me he reads the French media closely, and says that something big is coming, both in France and in Europe. “We are still building to the crescendo,” he said, explaining that Europeans are fed up with Muslims and with the migrant horde. He said we probably won’t like what we get, but that people back home — even at the left-wing grassroots — have had enough of the multiculturalism lie.
So, why clarifying? The US strongly opposed Russian policy in Syria, but let’s not be fooled: the US is fighting the same people in northern Iraq that Russia has been fighting in Syria. We are all the same to the jihadis, and despite our rivalries, we had better think of ourself as on Russia’s side in this epic battle. This is not so much a question of Islamism vs. the West as it is Islamism vs. Christendom. Mind you, there is no such thing as Christendom anymore, but that’s not how the jihadis see it.
I fear that we are in a clash of civilizations whether we want one or not. If liberal democracies in Europe cannot defend European security and liberty from Islamism and Islamic terrorism, Europeans may well choose governments and political systems that will. Voters among our European allies may soon be asking themselves who is more trustworthy on security issues: leaders in the Angela Merkel mold, or the Vladimir Putin one?
UPDATE: Nine killed and 50 injured in attack on Christmas market in Berlin. It’s turning out to be a big day for jihad.
UPDATE.2: Some top Russian politicians are blaming the assassination on the West. Fools.
I should clarify that I don’t believe there is any such thing as “Christendom” anymore (alas!). The point I’m trying to make is that we may be post-Christian in the West, but that doesn’t mean that jihadists accept that. If there is to be any chance of uniting Russia and the West against jihad, it will have to be on the basis, somehow, of our shared religious heritage. I’m not hopeful.
Meanwhile, in Germany:
— StefanieBolzen (@StefanieBolzen) December 19, 2016
UPDATE.3: Of course my gut analysis was based on wishful thinking. This piece about why the assassination is likely to bring Russia and Turkey closer together, because it will serve the broader interests of both Putin and Erdogan, makes far more sense.