The coffin of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov is carried outside of the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, December 2016.
Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

On December 19, Mevlut Mert Altintas, a Turkish police officer, assassinated Andrei Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey. His action was apparently meant as retribution for Russian bombings in eastern Aleppo, and he is the latest in a string of right-wing terrorists in Turkey whose acts have served to draw Ankara back toward the West. Less than two weeks after the assassination, in the early hours of January 1, a gunman believed to have been affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS) killed at least 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub. If such attacks continue, as they very likely will, they could undermine Erdogan's grip on power, which is what the wave of terror is all about, even if the perpetrators differ. 

At this stage, it is impossible to know Altintas’ precise intention, whether he was a “lone wolf” or was directed by others, and what consequences the murder will have. But historical patterns

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  • HALIL KARAVELI is a Senior Fellow at the Central Asia–Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program’s Joint Center, where he heads the Turkey Initiative. He is also Editor of the Turkey Analyst.
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