In November 2015 I wrote a post about how Russia ought to tread a little more carefully now they had decided to get embroiled in Middle East conflicts. My post came shortly after a Russian passenger plane had seemingly been bombed on its way to Saint Petersburg from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, and I said:
It ought not to have escaped Putin’s attention that while he envied America’s occupying the role of sole global superpower, as with all superpowers before them this position comes at a price.
It has taken a while, but Americans have slowly hardened up to this. Getting anywhere near an American embassy – even in a benign location like Singapore – is extremely difficult these days, and American companies, businessmen, and tourists are flooded with security advice which has led to an overall heightened awareness.
One would hope that Putin thought about this before he intervened with great fanfare in Syria, but in doing so he has now opened up Russia to terrorist attacks by the most fanatical people on the planet. At home, Russia is probably geared up to deal with this: they inherited the security apparatus from the Soviet Union and have plenty of experience dealing with Chechen terrorism over the years, albeit with mixed results at first. But abroad, Russia must look like a very ripe target for jihadists based overseas. I’ve walked past Russian embassies and they are often protected by a crumbling breeze-block wall with a rusty coil of barbed wire fastened on top.
For the first time in a long time, Russians are now seen as the bad guys by a whole swathe of the Middle East, and among their ranks are no shortage of nutcases – including ISIS.
If it turns out this Russian plane was indeed brought down by a bomb put aboard in Sharm el-Sheikh airport (a soft target if there ever was one), then there will probably be more such attacks, and Russia is ill-equipped to prevent them.
I post this now because this story is breaking:
A gunman has shot dead Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, apparently in protest at Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.
Several other people were reportedly also injured in the attack, a day after protests in Turkey over Russia’s military intervention in Syria.
The camera pulls back to show a smartly dressed gunman, wearing a suit and tie, waving a pistol and shouting.
He can be heard yelling “Don’t forget about Aleppo, don’t forget about Syria” and uses the Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar” (God is great).
I don’t think I can add much to what I’ve already said, other than there is no way an American ambassador would be in a room with people who haven’t gone through a metal detector and been screened for weapons.