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Published On: Wed, Dec 21st, 2016

Assassination of Russian Ambassador in Turkey: The Claim Game and the Blame Game

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Jaish Al-Fatah allegedly claimed responsibility for the assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov by an off duty police officer two days ago. Turkey, on the other hand, blamed the self-exiled Turkish cleric Fetullah Gülen and implies U.S. involvement. The claim was rebukes as ridiculous by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The known facts at this point in time is that no newspaper is in the position to report on the basis of evidence but there is the obvious, question “who benefits” and the list of “potential” beneficiaries is long.

Fetullah Gülen, Türkish cleric in self-imposed exile in the USA with long-standing links to the CIA, and allegedly involved in the failed military coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

Fetullah Gülen, Turkish cleric in self-imposed exile in the USA with long-standing links to the CIA, and allegedly involved in the failed military coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

The Russian State news agency Tass reported that the Al-Youm al-Sabea newspaper reported that Jaish al-Fatah has claimed responsibility for the assassination of the Russian Ambassador two days ago. Jaish al-Fatah is a coalition if insurgents in Syria which includes Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham a.k.a. Jabhat al-Nusra. Objectively speaking, from a legal and journalistic perspective, and in the absence of other “evidence”, that claim would be nothing but hearsay.

Turkish, severely State-censored media, for their part, quote Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavosoglu as saying the Turkey and Russia “know” that a movement led by the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen was behind the attack on the Russian envoy in Ankara. His statement came yesterday, one day after the foreign ministers of Turkey, Iran and Russia discussed the situation in Syria in the Russian capital Moscow.

Iranian media would primarily focus Foreign Minister Jarvad Zarif and on “western and Saudi-backed terrorists” having failed at derailing the evolving trilateral cooperation and that the perpetrators, if anything, had strengthened  the resolve of Russia, Turkey and Iran to find a political solution to the situation in Syria.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed sorrow over the assassination of Russian Ambassador. However, Çavuşoğlu told Kerry that “both Russia and Turkey know that FETÖ [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] was behind the attack and shared information regarding the assailant”. The minister reportedly also told Kerry that the joint declaration “reflected the main elements” discussed at the trilateral meeting, the official said.

The U.S. on Dec. 20 roundly dismissed claims it was in any way involved in the assassination.  “It’s a ludicrous claim, absolutely false, there’s no basis of truth in it whatsoever,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

Asking the gunman, the 22-year-old police officer Mevlüt Mert Altintas, is impossible. He as shot dead. Altinas was reportedly on duty in the predominantly Kurdish southern province of Diyabakir on July 15 but arrived in Ankara on July 16 after obtaining a leave of absence.

The Turkish “Habertürk” alleged that Altinas stayed in a house in the Demetevler district of Ankara. The police chief who allowed him to take the leave of absence, Kahraman Sezer, was arrested after the failed coup attempt over alleged  links to Gülen. On October 4 Altinas was himself suspended over alleged links to the so-called Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ). However, he was reportedly returned to duty on November 16. No conclusive evidence was made available to the press. Moreover, Altinas shouted slogans about Aleppo, but didn’t exactly convey the impression of a typical Jihadi and what has the FETÖ in common with Jaish al-Fatah anyway.

The immediate questions that would need to be answered by more than “press releases”, hearsay and unsubstantiated claims would be “how exactly did the assailant bypass security by showing his police ID? Who exactly, on the Turkish side, was responsible for the security of the Ambassador at the exhibition? Who exactly, at the Russian diplomatic security services in Turkey was responsible for the security of the Ambassador? Are there “moles”?

As to the question “who benefits”, the list of potential beneficiaries includes deep state structures in Turkey, the USA, Iran, Syria, the USA, “jihadi” and their sponsors such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and certain segments of the Lebanese or Israeli political landscape, as well as Russia. Regular nsnbc readers will find plausible explanations for why all of the above could be potential beneficiaries. What we need is evidence, not positioning, press releases propaganda and media that uncritically regurgitate press releases.

CH/L – nsnbc 21.12.2016

About the Author

- Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and former independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. In March 2013 he established nsnbc as a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at

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