World Turkey's Erdogan enraged over US warrant for his bodyguards

Turkey's Erdogan enraged over US warrant for his bodyguards
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures a "Rabia sign" inspired by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood organization during a Ramadan dinner in the presidential palace, Ankara, Turkey, June 15, 2015. (Photo: AA)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday slammed US authorities issuing arrest warrants for 16 people, including members of his personal armed security detail, for assaulting peaceful American-Kurdish protestors in Washington DC last month.

"How can such a thing happen? They [Americans] have issued arrest warrants for 12 of my bodyguards. What kind of law is this," Erdogan asked, addressing guests at a dinner to break Muslim Ramadan fast in his Ankara palace.

Erdogan's remarks, the first since the May 16 incident outside the Turkish ambassador's residence, followed a press conference by Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Peter Newsham in which they showed pictures of Turkish officers' wanted posters to the public.

Violence broke out as Erdogan arrived at the residence from the White House where he met with President Donald Trump, hoping to reverse continued American military aid to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) which lead the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.

Erdogan accused demonstrators of being "terrorist" members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and followers of the US-based Turkish Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whom he holds responsible for the failed 2016 military coup attempt against his rule.

He went on to complain about the DC police in his televised speech.

"They are staging a demonstration against me in some 40-50 meters' distance. And American police is doing nothing, is not even touching them," Erdogan said.

He further questioned why the US authorities arrested two Turks who brutalized the protesters along with his personal aides, promising "a legal and political challenge."

Shortly after Erdogan spoke, Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the US Ambassador to Ankara, John Bass, for the second time in a month over the DC incident.

The ministry labeled the US decision to issue arrest warrants for Erdogan's bodyguards "wrong, biased and lacking a legal basis."

It also accused DC police and the "so-called" protesters of attacking Turkish security members.

In one of the videos of the melee released by the Turkish language service Voice of America (VOA), Erdogan seemed to address a member of his security detail from inside his car before the assailants begin rushing towards the crowd, raising questions as to whether he ordered the attack.

A frustrated US Senator John McCain called for the designation of the Turkish Ambassador to Washington, Serdar Kilic, as a persona non grata.

Wanted posters for members of Erdogan's security detail facing criminal charges seen after a DC police news conference in Washington, Thursday, June 15, 2017. (Photo: AP)

The US House of Representatives earlier in June voted 397-0 to pass a resolution condemning the violence, while Speaker Paul Ryan urged Turkey to accept responsibility, affirming American commitment to the First Amendment.

"If these bodyguards [are not allowed] to protect me, then why should I take them to America? Am I supposed to be provided protection by America's Hans and George," Erdogan blasted, using two names Turks often use when speaking of ordinary Western foreigners.

 

Editing by G.H. Renaud