Assassin could be one of many
The bloodshed in Aleppo could be replicated in Turkey. Source: Flickr
The murder of the Russian ambassador to Turkey by a riot policeman points to a wave of hatred passing through Turkish society from the Syrian conflict.
The international media has reported the fact the assassin shouted: “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!” Many Turks are clearly angry with Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and for his recapture of eastern Aleppo.
However, the 22-year-old’s first words after firing may have been the equally significant. In Arabic Mevlut Mert Altintas praised those “who give Mohammed our allegiance for jihad”, pointing to a wider “holy war” within the country.
The remarkably similar leaders of Russia and Turkey were keen to reassure each other that the assassination of top Russian diplomat Andrey Karlov would not break their friendship, only recently re-established after the shooting down of a Russian warplane last December. President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly declared solidarity and their foreign ministers met in Moscow for a pre-arranged discussion on Syria. After failing to protect Karlov, Turkey will doubtless have to become more accommodating to Russia in Syria.
Russia, Iran and Turkey have agreed to try to broker peace talks between Syrian rebels and the Assad regime and to expand the ceasefire in Aleppo across the rest of the country, the Kremlin has announced.
The three powers most deeply involved in Syria met for a first summit in Moscow and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said they had found significant agreements.
“Iran, Russia and Turkey are ready to assist in preparing the agreement in the making between the Syrian government and the opposition and to become its guarantor,” Lavrov said.
“The ministers agree with the importance of widening the ceasefire, of free access for humanitarian aid and movement of civilians on Syrian territory.”
Turkey, meanwhile, is becoming increasingly violent and Ankara’s grip on its southeast is weakening.
In the last fortnight the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) or its allies have killed 58 people, mostly soldiers and police, in bomb attacks.
Kurds make up an estimated 14 per cent of the 80 million Turkish population, although such demographic figures are contested. Moderate Kurdish leaders are being charged with terrorist offences for criticism of the government. Another minority, the Alevi, which makes up a further 15 per cent of the population, is also under increasing pressure from the Erdogan regime.
The botched military coup of July 15 provoked mass sackings and arrests of soldiers, civil servants, academics and journalists suspected of connections to the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, or any other political opponent, with more than 100,000 sacked or suspended and 37,000 arrested.