The Turkish Embassy in the U.S. is blaming protestors for supposedly inciting violence Tuesday, despite video of the incident showing Turkish security personnel storming the group.
A demonstration outside the Turkish Embassy in northwest Washington led to nine people being injured, and two arrested pic.twitter.com/6SQTlQAUaa
— The Voice of America (@VOANews) May 17, 2017
Turkish Embassy statement on the violence outside their diplomatic facility in Washington yesterday: pic.twitter.com/8R4GnIPIBw
— Paul Blake (@PaulNBlake) May 17, 2017
These security personnel were accompanying Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an official visit Tuesday to Washington, D.C., where he discussed U.S. plans to defeat the Islamic State with President Donald Trump.
A open source intelligence analysis by Bellingcat found that “Many of the men who either started the skirmish or injured the protesters were wearing lapel pins, lanyards, and earpieces–all indicating that they were security officials.” The analysis continues that “the most violent assailants were Turkish security officials, and not just well-dressed protesters.”
The violent clash reveals a core issue with the administration’s anti-ISIS strategy. The U.S. is relying on Kurdish fighters within Syria to defeat ISIS, and has decided to provide the group with large military assistance. Turkey regards these groups as allies of terrorists, and even sees them as an existential threat to their existence. Much of Erdogan and Trump’s meeting centered on Turkish objections to the core U.S. anti-ISIS strategy.
Some of the protesters outside the Embassy were carrying pro-Kurdish militia flags and signs, which may have prompted the clash. The Turkish government characteristically maligned the protesters by accusing them of being affiliated with a Kurdish terrorist group, and then blamed them for inciting violence in an “unpermitted, provocative demonstration.”
The Department of State similarly condemned the Turkish security personnel’s actions Wednesday. saying they had expressed their “concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms.” The statement continued, “violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest.”
The security personnel are not likely to face charges however.
“This is not American police. There’s no Civilian Complaint Review Board. (Protesters) can cry or scream, but the guards are covered” by diplomatic immunity, Retired NYPD police detective Joseph Giacalone told NBCNews. He continued, “Americans need to understand that these guys are used to dealing with radicals in their own countries and getting away with it.”
The Tuesday brawl is the second time Turkish security personnel have become embroiled in a brawl in a visit to Washington. Erdogan’s security detail similarly clashed with critical journalists in a 2016 visit to the Brookings institution.
Senator John McCain responded to the violent incident Thursday, saying the U.S. “should throw the Ambassador the hell out of the United States of America.”
Turkish security guards’ attack on peaceful protesters this wk was a despicable display of thuggery & repression – absolutely unacceptable pic.twitter.com/NQL0KychH4
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) May 18, 2017
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