Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Assassinating the Ambassador – Between Crime and Propaganda For Terrorism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The assassination of the Russian ambassador in Turkey is an important event and is another terrorist act that works in favour of Iran and the Syrian regime. It is also detrimental to the cause of the Syrian people. The crime emphasises, once again, that the world’s security is at threat more than ever before. Sadly, confusion between terrorism and regional issues such as Syria continues, and the man who murdered Ambassador Andrei Karlov in Ankara justified his crime by saying that he was retaliating for what is happening in Syria.

Operations carried out by terrorist organisations have nothing to do with that. At around the same time, another terrorist murdered people by running them over in Berlin, Germany, a country which has supported the Syrian people and their revolution, and has cared for refugees the most. In the same week, ISIS boasted of being behind the killings carried out by one of its affiliates in the Jordanian city of Karak.

Anyone who justifies the murder of the Russian ambassador and links it to the tragedy of Aleppo and Syria is actually trying to exploit popular sentiment against Russia and using it in support of ISIS, the organisation that is responsible for inciting the world against the Syrian people and their revolution.

There is already anger towards Russia, but we must not confuse this with acts of terrorism. The Russians have enjoyed a comfortable position in the Middle East, specifically amongst the Arabs, because they waved the flag of the fight against colonialism, supported freedom forces and supported the Non-Aligned Movement. The Russians were known for their stances that sided with the Arabs regarding major issues such as the Palestinian cause, and they avoided getting involved in regional military adventures. Even when they occupied Afghanistan in the seventies, many considered this a chapter in the conflict between America and the Soviet Union in a far off area.

All of this changed after they intervened with force and brutality in Syria, and Moscow’s historic, moral and humanitarian record which was built over the decades became insignificant. In addition to this, as a result of events in Syria and in Aleppo particularly, reactions turned against them. Extremist groups, not just armed ones, want to ride the sudden wave of hatred against Moscow in the region, having realised that governments in the region want to negotiate with the Russians and try to persuade them to accept a reasonable political solution to end the war in Syria that is acceptable to the majority.

Governments in the region do not want to lose a big country like Russia and neither do they want to push it towards Iran and the Syrian regime because there are no political differences with it. If the Russian leadership wants a role for itself in the region, this role can be comprehended and distances can be shortened in a positive way. There are no camps that are hostile to Moscow in the Middle East, including those countries that are close to Washington and the west in general. These countries refuse to divide the region into two teams; one for and another against, as was the case during the Cold War.

Although there is not much hope at the moment, the Russians can play a positive and crucial role in Syria in order to achieve a reconciliation that eliminates extremists and extremism within the Syrian regime that is responsible for massacres during recent years. ISIS and other terrorist organisations want to sabotage these efforts and know that by targeting Russian officials they would be appealing to an angry popular sentiment and embarrassing regional governments which seem incapable of providing aid and protection to millions of Syrians.

Russia realises that it has a very bad reputation, and that propaganda produced by the channel RT and other official media propaganda platforms have failed to justify its position, acts and responsibility for supporting Assad and the Iranians in Syria. Perhaps the Russians do not care much about the opinion of the majority of millions of Arabs and Muslims because they do not vote and neither do they influence the policies of their governments. However, we know that terrorism benefits a lot from this difficult situation i.e. the anger of the people and the weakness of governments.

Most of those who applauded the murder of the Russian ambassador are in fact emotionally affiliated to ISIS and other terrorist organisations and they are no less dangerous than terrorists. It is certain that by expressing their happiness at and justification for the crime, they are pushing simple people who are angry to support terrorist groups and giving terrorism the oxygen it needs in terms of publicity and sympathy.

ISIS and Al-Nusra Front are no less evil and dangerous than the Syrian regime and Iranian militias fighting in Syria. The glorification of the crime that was carried out in Ankara should be classified as a crime directly because it helps terrorists to recruit people, collect donations and gives them legitimacy. It is also rebuilding the popularity that terrorists were on the verge of losing recently as a result of the propaganda against them.