Russian Ambassador Assassinated: Retaliation, But by Whom?

20.12.2016 Author: Tony Cartalucci

43535547Just days after the liberation of Syria’s northern city of Aleppo, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was gunned down while giving a talk at an art gallery in Turkey’s capital of Ankara.

The gunman, identified as a former Turkish police officer, flashed the familiar one finger gesture used by terrorist organizations operating in neighboring Syria including by Jabhat Al Nusra and the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” – while shouting, according to the Guardian:

Don’t forget Aleppo. Don’t forget Syria. Unless our towns are secure, you won’t enjoy security. Only death can take me from here. Everyone who is involved in this suffering will pay a price.

The attack coincided with an alleged security incident near America’s embassy in Ankara, characterized by the US Embassy as a “shooting,” though it may be in reference to the actual assassination.

Western newspapers, however, including the Daily Mail, the UK Express, and The Sun attempted to portray the announcement as a separate incident. This may be a deliberate attempt to portray the US as a victim in tandem with Russia, to divert suspicion away from US involvement.

Assassination Takes Place Days After US Vowed “Retaliation” Against Russia 

US President Barack Obama, US policymakers and pundits, as well as US Senators for the past week have vowed “retaliation” against Russia for alleged “hacking” during the 2016 US presidential election. These threats take place against a wider backdrop of increasingly unhinged outbursts made by Western politicians, pundits, and policymakers amid frustration in advancing their global agenda versus a reemerging Russia and a rising China.

The Guardian in an article published just this week titled, “Barack Obama promises retaliation against Russia over hacking during US election,” would state:

Barack Obama has warned that the US will retaliate for Russian cyberattacks during the presidential election. 

In an interview on National Public Radio on Friday morning, the US president said he is waiting for a final report he has ordered into a range of Russian hacking attacks, but promised there would be a response.

“I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections … we need to take action,” Obama said. “And we will – at a time and place of our own choosing. 

“Some of it may be explicit and publicised; some of it may not be.”

Articles like the International Business Times’ “How Can The US Retaliate Against Russia’s Hacking? Here Are 6 Possible Moves,” would list possible forms retaliation could take, including:

Cyberattack on Russian networks or infrastructure; Release damaging information about Vladimir Putin; Target offshore accounts; Place malware inside Russian espionate networks; Interfere in Russian politics Economic sanctions.

However, it has been noted by many analysts, including those within the US’ own foreign policy circles, that America’s ability to retaliate with “cyber attacks” against Russia in such a manner would range from futile, to even galvanizing the Russian people further behind the Kremlin.

The New York Times in an article titled, “Obama Confronts Complexity of Using a Mighty Cyberarsenal Against Russia,” would note:

But while Mr. Obama vowed on Friday to “send a clear message to Russia” as both a punishment and a deterrent, some of the options were rejected as ineffective, others as too risky. If the choices had been better, one of the aides involved in the debate noted recently, the president would have acted by now.

In all likelihood, an attempted counter “cyber attack” would have ended in further humiliation and isolation for the United States’ ruling circles.

Cui Bono?

The cold-blooded assassination of a Russian ambassador in the heart of Turkey, however, is a very effective “retaliation,” not only for Russia’s role in balancing against the Western media’s influence, effectively undermining the West’s monopoly over global public perception, but also for confounding US geopolitical objectives across the Middle East – particularly in Syria, and particularly in the aftermath of Aleppo’s liberation.

The assassination – a crime and even an act of war by any account – was apparently carried out by a militant drawn from the ranks of  terrorist organizations armed, trained, and funded by the United States and its regional allies, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and even Turkey. And despite this fact, should the US be involved in the assassination, it would be difficult to prove. And even if it was proven, it would be difficult to convince the global public that the US would make the jump from very publicly considering benign “cyber attacks” for the past week to assassinating a foreign diplomat.

Beyond simply “sending a message” as US policymakers sought to do – it also undermines alleged progress made between Ankara and Moscow regarding the former’s role in the ongoing proxy war with Syria. The assassination strains any such progress, even threatening to rollback gains painfully made since Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane over Syria in November of 2015.

While evidence is still forthcoming regarding the assassination, the US – through its own insistence on publicly and repeatedly threatening Moscow with retaliation –  has made itself one of the primary suspects behind the brutal killing. Considering the US’ role in creating, arming, funding, and directing terrorists across the region for years – the US is responsible indirectly at the very least.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.”