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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 21-Dec-2016
21-Dec-16 World View -- Russia, Turkey scramble to mend relations by blaming US for assassination

Web Log - December, 2016

21-Dec-16 World View -- Russia, Turkey scramble to mend relations by blaming US for assassination

Turkey and Russia blame Fethullah Gulen and the US for the assassination

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Man who shot Russia's ambassador in Turkey was in security forces

Foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey meet in Moscow to discuss a Syria peace plan.  The U.S. was not invited
Foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey meet in Moscow to discuss a Syria peace plan. The U.S. was not invited

Turkey's police have arrested six relatives of Mevlut Mert Altintas, the 22 year old who shot Andrey Karlov, Russia's ambassador to Turkey, in Ankara on Monday.

Little information about Altintas has been released. He was born in western Turkey on the Aegean Sea, and has been working as a policeman for 2-1/2 years.

He used his police badge on Monday to gain access to the art exhibit where Karlov would be speaking, and to avoid having to go through a security X-ray device. He took his place and stood behind Karlov as part of Karlov's security detail. After Karlov had been speaking for a few minutes, Altintas pulled a gun from his coat pocket and shot Karlov dead. Anadolu (Ankara) and Reuters and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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Turkey and Russia blame Fethullah Gulen and the US for the assassination

I've always considered it somewhat fanciful that Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the aborted July 15 coup attempt on a 76-year-old political enemy living in the Pocono Mountains in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, as if Fethullah Gulen had directed the coup himself from his easy chair.

Erdogan has repeatedly asked the Obama administration to extradite Gulen back to Turkey, charging him as being the leader of what Turkey calls the Fetullah Terror Organization (FETO). Last month, Erdogan said:

"I was disillusioned, because I would expect this? I served both as a prime minister and president in this country and whenever the U.S. requested extradition of those kinds of terrorists I handed them over. Obama also should have done it and handed that man to us."

The Justice Department has said that they would be happen to extradite Gulen to Turkey, provided that Turkey provides evidence satisfactory to an American court of law that Gulen was really involved in the coup. The administration says that it has not received such evidence.

There are other problems with automatically blaming Gulen.

Gulen is a Muslim cleric with a worldwide network of schools and businesses, run by his followers. For Erdogan, this worldwide network was for many years a good thing, a sign of a progressive Turkey, fighting extremism, and providing education and jobs. But relations between Erdogan and Gulen started to sour in 2012, and were severed completely in 2013. Since then, this huge international network has turned in Erdogan's eyes from a good thing to a bad thing, promoting terrorism instead of fighting extremism.

This sudden change in Erdogan's view of Gulen has caused confusion, and raised suspicion that the issues are more political than otherwise. And so there's a great deal of skepticism when Turkey is not able to provide any credible proof of Gulen's involvement in the July 15 coup.

However, the continued presence of Gulen in the United States provides a convenient target for Erdogan's blame and mockery. Whenever there's a domestic problem, Erdogan can just blame it on Gulen and the United States. Both Erdogan and Russia are increasingly blaming Monday's assassination of Russia's ambassador on the US.

Ilnur Cevik is an advisor to Erdogan. He says that the US and Germany are responsible for lots of things:

"Growing relations and intensive cooperation in all areas between Turkey and Russia has created anger in the West, especially in the United States and Germany. The latest example has been the joint efforts of the two countries to save the civilian people of Aleppo. It was inevitable that the West would try to sabotage these relations. It is sad that they used a policeman affiliated to Fethullah Gulen's terrorist organization to assassinate the ambassador. This organization was also behind the downing of the Russian fighter that hurt our relations."

So, the US and Germany are responsible not only for the assassination of the Russia's ambassador, but also for the July 15 coup and, even more incredibly, for Turkey's shootdown of the Russian warplane in November of last year!! But it's very convenient for both countries, rather than have to deal with the consequences to their own relationships.

This is laughable, and it reminds me of a completely different story in the news these days. The demented loony-left-wing socialist president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros, has been so thoroughly destroying his country's economy that the inflation rate is 67% per month, and is continuing to accelerate. But he gets away with it by blaming it all on a foreign conspiracy, led by the United States. It seems that there is no leader's policy so loony or so destructive that he can't get away with it by blaming the United States. World Bulletin (Turkey) and Sputnik News (Moscow) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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Both Turkey and Russia stand to gain by blaming US for assassination

The Turkish people have for years had to look on as Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah combine to massacre, bomb and slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians, including many women and children, who are ethnic Turkmens and other ethnic groups close to Turkey, and to drive millions more from their homes.

So why would Turkey be willing to bend over backwards to mend relations with Russia?

There's no doubt that the past year has been hell for Turkey. There have been six or eight major terrorist attacks in cities across the country, perpetrated by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). There was the July 15 aborted coup attempt. The country's resources have been strained by some three million refugees pouring into the country to escape the war in Syria. There was the chaotic break with Russia after a Russian warplane was shot down.

After the shootdown of Russia's warplane last year, Russia imposed harsh sanctions on Turkey that were devastating to Turkey's economy. Politically, Erdogan became increasingly isolated, having had very public splits with Syria, Russia, Israel and Egypt. So, Erdogan began healing some of those splits -- with Russia and Israel, though not with Egypt. And Erdogan became resigned that Bashar al-Assad is here to stay.

Russia has a completely different set of motivations. Russia is on the verge of scoring a major political victory.

On Monday, leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey met for a summit in Moscow to discuss a peace agreement for Syria. Turkey has dropped its demand that Bashar al-Assad step down. The United States has become so irrelevant to the Mideast that it was not invited, and besides, both Turkey and Russia are blaming the United States for the assassination and other problems.

For Russia, this is an opportunity to show the world that Russia is back, it's in charge of the Mideast, while the US has been pushed out. This is the kind of political victory that Vladimir Putin is working for.

So this is a critical time for both Turkey and Russia. The assassination of Russia's ambassador in Ankara has the potentially to really explode the relationship between the two countries. How was an off-duty security guard so easily able to get into the exhibition? Why was the ambassador so poorly protected? After the shooting, why the did the police shoot Altintas dead, rather than just wounding him, which would have allowed Russian investigators to question him? Who else was involved in the assassination plot?

By rushing to blame the United States, the two countries do not have to deal with a lot of very difficult questions. In particular, Russia can continue with its plan to declare itself the world leader in the Mideast.

Generational Dynamics predicts that this friendship between Turkey and Russia won't last, and that Russia and Turkey will be on opposite sides of the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war. Russians and Turks have hated each other for centuries, and have fought many bloody wars, and it won't be long before they're fighting one more. Telegraph (London) and Tass (Moscow) and Sputnik News (Moscow)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Dec-16 World View -- Russia, Turkey scramble to mend relations by blaming US for assassination thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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