Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Turkish ties hit rough patch after rough Erdogan visit

Turkish ties hit rough patch after rough Erdogan visit

The US State Department has denounced the brutality of the security personnel accompanying the Turkish President after they roughed anti-Erdogan protesters Tuesday in Washington.

The U.S. State Department said the episode was "deeply disturbing" and promised that an investigation would hold those responsible to account.

A brutal altercation that transpired outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington D.C. on Tuesday was witnessed in real-time by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to new video obtained by Voice of America.

Turkey called Thursday for the removal of the USA diplomat coordinating the worldwide coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, accusing him of backing Syrian Kurdish militias. "It will be beneficial if this person is replaced".

Erdogan said that the United States had made its decision on the subject of the Raqqa operation and that Turkey could not participate, given the YPG involvement. Washington voiced concern over the air strikes and said they harmed the coalition's fight against Islamic State.

Erdogan has insulted European Union nations like Germany and the Netherlands by comparing them with Nazis and has hinted that he is seeking to bring back the death penalty, which would doom Turkey's European Union membership aspirations.

A State Department official said Thursday that two members of Erdogan's security detail were arrested and released. Senator John McCain, R-AZ, and Senator Claire McCaskill, D-MO, both called for the expulsion of Turkey's ambassador.

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A State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said in a statement Thursday that McGurk had the "full support and backing" of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the White House.

The United States sees the YPG as distinct from the PKK and as a valuable partner in the fight against Islamic State.

"The actions seen outside the Turkish Embassy yesterday in Washington, D.C. stand in contrast to the First Amendment rights and principles we work tirelessly to protect each and every day", the police statement said.

A firebrand USA senator has advocated for Turkey's Ambassador Serdar Kilic's removal of diplomatic credentials after what he called "thuggish" clashes in front of the Turkish embassy in the United States capital. "This isn't Turkey; this isn't a third-world country; and this kind of thing can not go un-responded to diplomatically".

Sen. Lindsey Graham of SC said he wants "people prosecuted".

The U.S. Senator had earlier called the brawl "thuggish behavior".

In a statement, the Turkish Embassy blamed the violence on the demonstrators, saying they were "aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the President". Protest organizers said those arrested were part of their group.

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