Two top U.S. lawmakers, one Republican and one Democrat, are calling on the State Department to scrap plans to sell $1.2 million worth of semiautomatic handguns to the Turkish government because of a violent attack outside of the Turkish embassy last month.
California Rep. Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent letters to Sec. of State Rex Tillerson urging him to halt the gun transaction.
As The New York Times first reported, the State Department on May 15 approved the sale of 1,600 semiautomatic guns manufactured by New Hampshire-based Sig Sauer to a Turkish intermediary. The guns are intended for use by the security agency working to protect Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A day after the State Department approved the transaction, members of Erdogan’s very same security force were involved in violent attacks against a small group of Kurdish protesters outside of the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C. (RELATED: Here’s The Erdogan Henchman Who Choked Female Protester Outside Embassy)
One of the attackers, identified by The Daily Caller as Ismail Dalkiran, was seen choking a 26-year-old female protester. Numerous other Erdogan bodyguards — some of them armed — were seen punching, kicking and stomping the protesters.
Erdogan was seen on video calmly watching the attack unfold. He also appears to have given instructions to carry out the violence. Video shows him passing commands to a bodyguard, who then issues orders to another member of the security detail. Seconds later, Erdogan’s bodyguards and other supporters of the authoritarian leader launched the assault against the protesters.
Eleven people were injured in all.
“Many Committee Members remain deeply concerned about this incident,” Royce wrote in his letter to Tillerson.
“All defense transfers to any Turkish agencies involved in the May 16 incident should be suspended pending a satisfactory resolution of this matter.”
Cardin issued a similar letter to Tillerson, according to The Times, though the State Department had not responded to the demand to cancel the gun sale.
The State Department condemned the Turkish government over the incident and has said an investigation is underway. Most of Erdogan’s goons are likely protected from arrest and prosecution by diplomatic immunity.