Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

Turkey sends first cargo ship with aid for Qatar

June 22, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Turkey has already sent over 100 planes with food and other aid for Qatar but this is the first time a cargo ship has embarked on the voyage to Doha
ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkey on Thursday sent its first ship loaded with aid for its embattled regional ally Qatar which has been hit by sanctions from Gulf powers led by Saudi Arabia, state media said.

Turkey has already sent over 100 planes with food and other aid for Qatar but this is the first time a cargo ship has embarked on the voyage to Doha.

The ship left the Aegean port of Aliaga in Izmir province with around 4,000 tonnes of fruit, vegetables and other foodstuffs on board, the Anadolu news agency said. It should arrive in 10 days.

Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain broke off relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”, leaving Doha economically and politically isolated.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately vowed to support Qatar.

Ankara vehemently rejected the accusations — already strongly denied by Doha — that Qatar supports terrorism, arguing the country had been a staunch opponent of Islamic State (IS) jihadists.

Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said Wednesday that Turkey had already sent 105 cargo flights to Qatar loaded with aid to help the country through the crisis.

The crisis has put Turkey in a delicate position as Ankara regards Qatar as its chief ally in the Gulf but is also keen to maintain its improving relations with the key regional power Saudi Arabia.

Ankara has stopped short of directly criticising Saudi Arabia’s actions, merely calling on Riyadh to take a lead role in solving the crisis.

In a sign of the importance of the relations with Riyadh, Erdogan late Wednesday held phone talks with Saudi King Salman after the sudden appointment of his son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince in place of Mohammed bin Nayef.

Erdogan also spoke with Mohammed bin Salman himself and passed on his congratulations over the move, Anadolu said.

Both sides expressed a commitment to further strengthen relations between Ankara and Riyadh and to “step up efforts” to end the tensions concerning Qatar, it added.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey had been been damaged by Riyadh’s role in the 2013 ousting of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, a close ally of Ankara.

But ties thawed considerably after the accession of Salman to the throne in 2015, with the king warmly welcomed on visits to Turkey.

Turkey’s President Erdogan Called a “Dictator” — Accused of Unlawful Meddling in the Judiciary — “Shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism.”

June 20, 2017

CAMLIDERE, Turkey — Turkey’s main opposition leader accused President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday of meddling in the judiciary and called him a “dictator”, as he extended his cross-country protest march against the jailing of a parliamentary ally into a sixth day.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, 68, head of the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), set out last week from the capital Ankara on a 425-km (265-mile) march to Istanbul after fellow party member Enis Berberoglu was jailed for 25 years on spying charges.

Image result for Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Turkey, photos

Kemal Kilicdaroglu

Berberoglu was the first CHP lawmaker to be imprisoned in a government crackdown that followed the abortive military coup in July 2016. More than 50,000 people have been jailed and more than 150,000 sacked or suspended from their jobs.

“I will always be on the side of justice. If someone tells me my rights are a favor, I will speak of his dictatorship. I say you (Erdogan) are a dictator,” Kilicdaroglu said in a speech after stopping at a national park near Camlidere, a rural area about 100 km outside of Ankara.

His comments were an apparent response to criticism from Erdogan over the weekend in which the president said justice should be sought in parliament and the CHP was only being allowed to march as a favor from the government.

Erdogan has likened the protesters who came out in support of Kilicdaroglu in Ankara and Istanbul to those who carried out the attempted coup, and said, “You should not be surprised if you receive an invitation from the judiciary.”

Kilicdaroglu responded on Tuesday by accusing the president of attempting to influence the judiciary. “If I prove that your government sends notices to the courts and gives them orders, will you resign your post like an honorable man?” he said.

Rights groups and government critics, including members of Kilicdaroglu’s CHP, say Turkey has been sliding toward authoritarianism since the coup bid. The government says its crackdown is necessary given vast security threats it is facing.

“I have been participating in the march since the beginning,” said one woman, 59, who declined to give her name. “We want justice for our children. This is the only reason we are marching.”

The slight, bespectacled Kilicdaroglu has so far clocked up a little more than 100 km, trudging along a highway westwards from Ankara and at times carrying a sign that says “Justice”.

CHP officials said he was eating only soup in the morning and over the course of the day the same food given to the roughly 1,000 other supporters marching with him.

He alternates between two pairs of trainers and at night massages his feet with salt to soothe the swelling. He sleeps overnight in a caravan specially prepared for him.

Kilicdaroglu, who aims to march to the jail where Berberoglu is being held, on Tuesday condemned the government’s purges, naming academics he said had been stripped of their posts for no reason and asking why journalists were being jailed.

Some 160 journalists are imprisoned in Turkey, according to the journalists union, and authorities have shut down 130 media outlets since the failed coup.

“Shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism,” and “justice, justice” chanted the crowd of around 1,000 on a hillside who listened to his speech. Some carried a banner that said: “You’ll never walk alone”.

The march is expected to last around 25 days, with participants walking some 16-20 km daily.

(Additional reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by Daren Butler)

Qatar Says Won’t Negotiate Until Economic Boycott Ends

June 19, 2017

DOHA — Qatar will not negotiate with Arab states that have cut economic and travel ties with it unless they reverse their measures, its foreign minister said, ruling out discussions over Qatar’s internal affairs including Al Jazeera TV.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Qatar had still not received any demands from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which severed relations two weeks ago, triggering the worst Gulf Arab crisis in years.

Image result for Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, photos

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahmanal-Thani

The countries accuse Qatar of supporting Islamist militants and stirring up unrest, charges Doha denies.

“Qatar is under blockade, there is no negotiation. They have to lift the blockade to start negotiations,” Sheikh Mohammed told reporters in Doha. “Until now we didn’t see any progress about lifting the blockade, which is the precondition for anything to move forward.”

He said Kuwait’s ruler was the sole mediator in the crisis and that he was waiting for specific demands from Gulf states in order to take resolution efforts forward.

“We cannot just have (vague) demands such as ‘the Qataris know what we want from them, they have to stop this or that, they have to be monitored by a foreign monitoring mechanism,'” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Anything that relates to the affairs of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council is subject to negotiation, he said, referring to the body comprising Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.

“Anything not related to them is not subject to negotiation. No one has the right to interfere in my affairs. Al Jazeera is Qatar’s affairs, Qatari foreign policy on regional issues is Qatar’s affairs. And we are not going to negotiate on our own affairs,” he said.

Qatar’s Gulf critics have accused Al Jazeera of being a platform for extremists and an agent of interference in their affairs. The network has rejected those accusations and said it will maintain its editorial independence.

Image result for LNG, Qatar, photos

The crisis has hit civilian travel, some food imports, ratcheted up tensions in the Gulf and sown confusion among businesses. But it has not affected energy exports from Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar would rely on other states if the boycott continued, including Saudi Arabia’s arch regional foe Iran.

“We have a back-up plan which depends mainly on Turkey, Kuwait and Oman,” he said. “Iran has facilitated for us the sky passages for our aviation and we are cooperating with all countries that can ensure supplies for Qatar.”

(Reporting by Tom Finn; writing by Sylvia Westall; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Turkey opposition chief says undeterred by Erdogan threats

June 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Turkish opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu walks with a placard reading ‘Justice’ during a protest march in Ankara, on June 15, 2017

ANKARA (AFP) – Turkey’s main opposition leader on Sunday vowed to press on with a “walk for justice” from Ankara to Istanbul after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned he risked facing legal proceedngs for the action.Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu called the march after former journalist turned CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoglu was sentenced to 25 years in jail on Wednesday for leaking classified information to a newspaper.

Kilicdaroglu on Sunday completed the fourth day of a trek that is expected to take almost a month and represents by far his biggest challenge to the Turkish strongman since he took over the CHP in 2010.

But Erdogan the day earlier had said such actions bring no good for the country and bluntly told Kilicdaroglu “don’t be surprised” if legal proceedings were opened.

“They want to provoke us but we will not give in! They want to threaten us with the courts and he (Erdogan) calls out the judges, the prosecutors,” said the CHP chief.

“We are walking for justice, not against justice,” he added, quoted by the party while the march.

Kilicdaroglu, 68, has made the word “justice” the slogan of his march, clutching a stick with the word emblazoned on a card.

His plan is for the 450-kilometre (280 miles) trek to culminate at Maltepe prison in Istanbul where Berberoglu is being held.

Political tensions have been rising in Turkey after Erdogan on April 16 narrowly won a referendum granting him greater powers that the CHP fears will lead to one-man rule.

Kilicdaroglu accused Erdogan of being the “July 20 coup plotter” over the crackdown that followed the failed July 15 putsch to oust him from power.

Erdogan on July 20 declared a state of emergency that has seen some 50,000 people arrested and another 100,000 lose their jobs in the biggest purge in modern Turkey’s history.

Kilicdaroglu invited Erdogan to spend “a night in the caravan” on the way, sarcastically warning the president: “We don’t have golden toilets in the caravan.”

The CHP leader had accused Erdogan of having golden toilet seats in his palace, an accusation the presidency denied.

“I want to remind you — there is a Moses for every pharaoh. Don’t forget this,” he said, referring to the Israelite prophet who led the exodus from Egypt.

Saudi detains Turkey media reporters ‘on FM’s visit’

June 17, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, pictured in June 2014, intervened on behalf of the two reporters detained in Mecca
ISTANBUL (AFP) – Saudi Arabia detained two Pakistani reporters for Turkey’s state-run English language channel TRT World for some 10 hours during a visit by the Turkish foreign minister, before releasing them, reports said Saturday.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu late Friday held talks with Saudi King Salman in Mecca aimed at easing the crisis over the diplomatic and economic isolation of Ankara’s ally Qatar.

Correspondent Hasan Abdullah and cameraman Nihat Yayman, who were covering the talks, were detained by Saudi authorities at their hotel but then released after Cavusoglu personally intervened with the Saudi king, the Hurriyet daily said.

Abdullah said in a statement the pair “were detained from our hotel by Saudi police in Mecca after a live analysis” on the crisis with Qatar.

“The ordeal lasted nearly 10 hours during which we faced multiple interrogations and lock-up,” he said, expressing gratitude to the Turkish authorities for solving the issue.

There was no immediate indication over why they had been detained or if it directly concerned their reporting from the kingdom.

Hurriyet said they were freed on the instructions of the Saudi king after Cavusoglu brought up the issue. The pair are now heading back to Turkey.

Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain broke off relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”.

The crisis has put Turkey in a delicate position as Ankara regards Qatar as its chief ally in the Gulf but is also keen to maintain its improving relations with the key regional power Saudi Arabia.

While strongly backing its ally Qatar, Turkey has stopped short of directly criticising Saudi Arabia’s actions and called on Riyadh to take a lead role in solving the crisis.

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Trump Organization dissolved subsidiaries created to pursue business opportunities in Qatar six days after Donald Trump was inaugurated

June 17, 2017

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Trump Organization dissolved subsidiaries created to pursue business opportunities in Qatar six days after Donald Trump was inaugurated as America’s 45th president, according to a new financial disclosure form filed on his behalf.

Trump had turned managerial control over to his two adult sons before entering the White House, vowing his eponymous enterprise would not pursue more deals abroad as he served as president.

In recent days, Trump repeatedly has accused Qatar of funding extremists amid an effort by several Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia to isolate the peninsular nation.

Alan Garten, an executive vice president and chief legal officer at the Trump Organization, told The Associated Press on Saturday that dissolving the subsidiaries was “consistent with our no new foreign deals pledge.”

“We no longer have any use for these entities,” he said.

Along the motorcade route for President Trump, on the way to the airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he recently attended a summit meeting. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Trump as a businessman long sought to enter Qatar, a tiny gas-rich nation that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and is home to some 10,000 American soldiers at a major U.S. military base. He traveled to the Qatari capital, Doha, in April 2008 to see developments there.

He tweeted in March 2015 that the Trump Organization planned a hotel in Doha, alongside ones in Saudi Arabia, well as in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Trump also praised Qatar during his presidential campaign, in which he lauded Doha’s new international airport.

“You land at LaGuardia, you land at Kennedy, you land at LAX, you land at Newark, and you come in from Dubai and Qatar and you see these incredible” airports, Trump said at his first debate with Hillary Clinton. “You see these incredible airports, and … we’ve become a third-world country.”

But deals in Qatar eluded Trump. In Dubai, however, Trump’s sons opened a Trump-branded golf club in February and local developer DAMAC Properties plans another despite concerns in the U.S. over the Trump Organization’s international work . Trump previously told journalists that DAMAC had offered the Trump Organization $2 billion in deals after his election , something DAMAC also confirmed.

In his financial disclosure filed Friday with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Trump lists four separate Qatar-related entities that were dissolved on Jan. 26. Trump’s inauguration was Jan. 20. The four subsidiaries are DT Marks Qatar LLC, DT Marks Qatar Member Corp., THC Qatar Hotel Manager LLC and THC Qatar Hotel Manager Member Corp.

In the weeks since Trump’s May visit to Saudi Arabia, his first foreign trip as president, Sunni Arab Gulf nations have seen increasing turmoil.

The upheaval has been capped by the Saudi-led effort to isolate Qatar after it and other Arab nations cut diplomatic ties to Doha over its alleged support of Islamists and extremists, as well as its close ties to Iran. Qatar long has denied funding extremists, though Western diplomats allege lax oversight allows such funding to continue. Qatar also shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Iran, requiring them to stay in communication.

While Trump’s administration has called for Gulf unity and noted Qatar’s support through hosting American soldiers, Trump himself has accused Doha of funding terrorism “at a very high level.”

For his Dubai earnings, Trump listed just receiving “management fees” of $12,984 from the golf course. That’s down from the between $1 million to $5 million for the projects he declared on a U.S. Federal Election Committee report submitted in May 2016. However, the report Friday notes Trump’s licensing fees and earnings often vary during projects and include upfront payments.

The Qatar entities are among over 540 different subsidiaries listed on the form. It notes several associated with hoped-for projects with Saudi Arabia that had been dissolved in November as previously reported by the AP .

Also dissolved on Jan. 26 was TC Marks Buenos Aires LLC. The Trump Organization had wanted to build a Trump Tower in the Argentine capital, but said in January that it wouldn’t continue “exploratory” talks over projects there and in Pune, India.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jongambrellAP . His work can be found at http://apne.ws/2galNpz .

Erdogan warns Turkey opposition chief over ‘justice march’

June 17, 2017

AFP

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© AFP | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned the leader of the main opposition party against making a planned protest march from Ankara to Istanbul, telling him “don’t be surprised” if legal proceedings were opened.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu called the march after former journalist turned CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoglu was sentenced to 25 years in jail on Wednesday for leaking classified information to a newspaper.

Kilicdaroglu is now on the third day of a trek that is expected to take almost a month and represents by far his biggest challenge to the Turkish strongman since he took over the CHP in 2010.

But Erdogan said his actions were damaging for the country and appeared to warn Kilicdaroglu he could even face legal troubles.

“Calling people out onto the street is neither good for them or for the country,” Erdogan told a business conference in Istanbul.

“Wandering around with a ‘justice’ placard in your hand is not going to bring justice. If you are looking for justice, then the place in Turkey to find justice is the parliament.”

He added: “If the judicial authorities invite you in somewhere tomorrow then don’t be surprised.”

Kilicdaroglu, 68, has made the word “justice” the slogan of his march, clutching a stick with the word emblazoned on a card.

His plan is for the 450-kilometre (280 miles) trek to culminate at Maltepe prison in Istanbul where Berberoglu is being held.

Political tensions have been rising in Turkey after Erdogan on April 16 narrowly won a referendum granting him greater powers that the CHP fears will lead to one-man rule.

Kilicdaroglu in an interview with AFP on Friday accused Erdogan of staging a “second coup” with the crackdown that followed last July’s failed putsch.

A dozen MPs from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had already been arrested under the emergency declared after the coup bid.

But Berberoglu’s arrest was the first time an MP from the CHP, the main secular opposition founded by first president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, has been held.

Saudi-Qatar crisis puts Syria rebels in tricky position

June 17, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Sammy Ketz | Smoke rises from buildings following a reported air strike on a rebel-held area in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, on June 14, 2017

BEIRUT (AFP) – A diplomatic crisis pitting Saudi Arabia against Qatar has put Syrian rebels in a difficult position, analysts say, after rivalries between Gulf backers had already weakened the opposition.

Both Sunni-ruled monarchies sided with the protesters in March 2011, when the war started with the brutal repression of anti-government demonstrations.

They continued supporting the mostly Sunni rebels when unrest spiralled into conflict between the armed opposition and troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, who hails from the country’s Alawite Shiite minority and is backed by Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran.

But six years later, the rebellion has been plagued by rivalries between Riyadh and Doha, as well as weakened by Russia’s military intervention in support of Assad’s forces.

Moscow’s support for regime forces led to a series of setbacks for the rebels, including their landmark loss in December of second city Aleppo.

Last week, Saudi Arabia and allies, including the United Arab Emirates, severed or reduced diplomatic ties with Qatar over accusations the emirate supports extremism, claims Doha has denied.

“The current rupture puts the Syrian opposition in a very awkward position politically, as nobody wants to have to take sides publicly nor can afford to alienate either side,” said Yezid Sayigh, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Centre.

A rebel official in the opposition stronghold of Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus said he hoped the crisis between Doha and Riyadh was just “a temporary storm”.

– ‘Sensitive’ issue –

“Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have supported the revolution of the Syrian people and shown solidarity throughout years of tragedy,” the rebel official said.

In a sign of the embarrassment the crisis is causing, several rebel groups approached by AFP refused to comment, saying it was a “sensitive” issue.

But Sayigh said the latest flare-up in relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia will have a limited impact on the Syrian conflict.

“It probably won’t have a major financial impact, nor a military one since the US and Turkey have stepped up their support for factions that previously were close to Qatar or to Saudi Arabia,” Sayigh said.

Riyadh “reduced its funding sharply starting” from the summer of 2015 “after it launched its intervention in Yemen” earlier in the year, he said.

Six years into the war, Syria’s fractured rebellion controls just around 10 percent of the war-torn country, with backing from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan and the United States.

Pro-Doha rebels including the powerful Ahrar al-Sham group are present in the north of the country.

In Eastern Ghouta, pro-Doha opposition groups exist alongside the pro-Riyadh Jaish al-Islam rebel alliance.

Rebels in the south, meanwhile, are trained by Amman and Washington.

Another influential player is Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, which now leads the Tahrir al-Sham group and which some analysts and Syrian factions say has links with Qatar, although Doha has denied this.

– Tensions in Eastern Ghouta? –

Qatar led most mediation efforts to obtain the release of hostages held by the group formerly known as Al-Nusra Front.

In Eastern Ghouta, even before the Gulf crisis, factions supported by Qatar on one side and Saudi Arabia on the other had already clashed, killing hundreds of fighters.

Raphael Lefevre, a researcher at the University of Oxford, said the latest Saudi-Qatari crisis could well spark further tensions between rival groups in the rebel enclave.

In 2013 and 2014, “Qatar and Saudi Arabia competed for influence within exiled opposition bodies, each by supporting different factions and leaders, something which largely contributed to paralysing and fragmenting the Syrian opposition,” he said.

But the consequences of the latest spat “could be much bloodier, especially as the two countries support rival rebel factions in areas already marked by a great degree of opposition infighting and regime violence such as the Eastern Ghouta”, Lefevre said.

Syria expert Thomas Pierret however said “local dynamics rather than external patrons determine alliances” in Eastern Ghouta.

He said Ahrar al-Sham risked “suffering financially from a reorientation of Qatari politics”, even if it continues to enjoy support from Turkey, which has intervened as a mediator in the Gulf dispute.

Syria’s exiled political opposition is also fractured. The High Negotiations Committee is based in Riyadh, while the National Coalition work out of Istanbul.

by Sammy Ketz
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Turkey FM in Saudi for Qatar talks

June 16, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, pictured on June 5, 2017, is adamant that the Gulf states need to engage in dialogue in order to solve the tensions with Qatar

MECCA (SAUDI ARABIA) (AFP) – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday for talks with King Salman, continuing efforts to resolve the Gulf’s biggest diplomatic crisis in years.A Turkish diplomatic source told AFP that the minister had landed in Jeddah.

Riyadh, the UAE, Egypt and others severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar almost two weeks ago, accusing Doha of supporting groups, including some backed by Iran, “that aim to destabilise the region”.

Qatar denies any such support for extremists.

Cavusoglu was to travel from Jeddah to the holy city of Mecca where Salman is based for the last days of Ramadan, after meeting his Kuwaiti counterpart on Thursday.

The emir of Kuwait, which did not cut ties with Qatar, has also been trying to mediate.

Turkey’s chief diplomat was in Doha on Wednesday where he called for dialogue after meeting Qatar’s emir and foreign minister ahead of his Saudi stop.

“Although the kingdom is a party in this crisis, we know that King Salman is a party in resolving it,” Cavusoglu said earlier.

“We want to hear the views of Saudi Arabia regarding possible solutions and will share with them our views in a transparent way… We pay a great attention to our relations with them,” he said.

The crisis has put Turkey in a delicate position as Ankara regards Qatar as its chief ally in the Gulf but is also keen to maintain its improving ties with regional power Saudi Arabia.

At the same time, Turkey is eager to maintain workable relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s foe.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday described the decision by Gulf states to cut political and economic ties with Qatar as “inhumane and un-Islamic”.

He stopped short of directly criticising Saudi Arabia and said that as “the elder statesman of the Gulf,” Salman should resolve the matter.

Among the punitive measures, Qatar Airways is banned from the airspace of its neighbours, Gulf states gave Qataris 14 days to get out, and Saudi closed its land border through which much of Qatar’s food supply crossed.

Turkey slams US arrest warrants against Erdogan guards

June 16, 2017

Ankara has attacked the US’s decision to issue arrest warrants for Turkish security guards who assaulted protesters during President Erdogan’s trip to Washington in May. The violence has been widely condemned.

Arrest warrants issued for Erdogan security detail

“What kind of law is this, what kind of justice?” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency. “If these bodyguards aren’t there to protect me, why would I take them with me to America?”

He added that Turkey would fight “politically and judicially” against the warrants.

US authorities on Thursday announced arrest warrants had been issued for 12 members of Erdogan’s security detail for assaulting protesters in Washington last month. The men, all Turkish citizens, include nine security guards and three police officers.

The members of the security detail are among 18 people facing assault charges following the May 16 clash between protesters and security guards outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence just after Erdogan met with US President Donald Trump at the White House.

Erdogan described the protesters, who he said were demonstrating at a distance of about 50 meters (165 feet), as supporters of the outlawed militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic preacher whom Ankara accuses of being behind a failed military coup last year.

Brawl involving Erdogan’s security in the US will be investigated

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry called in the US ambassador, John Bass, for talks.

“It has been conveyed to the ambassador that this decision taken by US authorities is wrong, biased and lacks legal basis,” the Foreign Ministry announced in a statement while also blaming local authorities for failing to take appropriate security measures with regards to the “so-called protesters.”

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser condemned the violence strongly on Thursday, saying it violated the US constitutional right to peaceful protest.

“We host millions of people who come to the seat of their government to protest peacefully. We support them, we make sure that they are safe, but we also make sure that they follow our law,” Bowser said at a press conference.

Members of Erdogan’s security detail violently reacting to peaceful protesters during Erdogan's trip last month to Washington.The charges stem from the brawl during Erdogan’s trip to Washington in May.

Crossed wires

The charges against the 12, along with six other Turkish-Americans and Turkish-Canadians who joined the brawl, “send a clear message that the US does not tolerate individuals who use intimidation and violence to stifle freedom of speech and legitimate political expression,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department said it had conducted an investigation using video footage of the incident with the State Department and US Secret Service.

It was unclear whether the Turkish guards would face immediate legal repercussions as a result of the charges, because they returned to Turkey with Erdogan after his visit.

Nine people were injured, with several going to the hospital for treatment of head injuries, broken teeth, deep cuts and bruises.

The US State Department voiced concern about the incident at the time. Senators John McCain and Dianne Feinstein also wrote a letter to Erdogan after the incident, charging that Turkish guards had carried out a “blatant violation” of the right to freedom of assembly by attacking “peaceful protesters.”

Relations between Turkey and the US, two NATO allies, have been strained in the past 12 months, in particular over the US’s arming of Kurdish YPG fighters fighting to take Raqqa, a stronghold of the Islamic State militant group in Syria.

jbh/se (dpa, AFP)

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