In­ter­na­tional in­ci­dent

U.S., Turkey dis­pute fight­ing as am­bas­sador sum­moned

Cape Breton Post - - World -

Turkey sum­moned the Amer­i­can am­bas­sador on Mon­day to protest what it called “ag­gres­sive and un­pro­fes­sional ac­tions’’ by Amer­i­can se­cu­rity per­son­nel against Turk­ish body­guards dur­ing a vi­o­lent in­ci­dent last week in Wash­ing­ton. The U.S. am­bas­sador told Turkey’s gov­ern­ment its guards violated U.S. laws, a se­nior U.S. of­fi­cial said.

Turkey’s ac­tion ap­peared to rep­re­sent re­tal­i­a­tion for the force­ful U.S. crit­i­cism of the Turk­ish guards’ be­hav­iour in the Amer­i­can cap­i­tal, where they ac­com­pa­nied Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan on his visit. The U.S. sum­moned Turkey’s U.S. am­bas­sador last week af­ter the Turk­ish se­cu­rity of­fi­cers were seen hit­ting and kick­ing pro­test­ers out­side the Turk­ish am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence; one video shared on so­cial me­dia even showed Er­do­gan watch­ing the melee.

Turkey didn’t spec­ify the ac­tions by U.S. se­cu­rity of­fi­cials it deemed in­ap­pro­pri­ate. Video from the scene had showed U.S. po­lice strug­gling to pro­tect pro­test­ers, and two Turk­ish body­guards were briefly de­tained af­ter the in­ci­dent. They were then set free and re­turned to Turkey.

In the meet­ing with Turkey’s For­eign Min­istry in Ankara, U.S. Am­bas­sador John Bass said the se­cu­rity per­son­nel’s be­hav­iour con­tra­dicted U.S. laws and pro­tected speech and assem­bly rights, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior U.S. State Depart­ment of­fi­cial.

Bass and the Turk­ish of­fi­cials dis­agreed about what prompted the out­break of vi­o­lence, said the of­fi­cial, who de­manded anonymity to dis­cuss pri­vate diplo­matic con­ver­sa­tions. The of­fi­cial said Bass told the Turks the U.S. was look­ing into what hap­pened and why — an ap­par­ent nod to Turkey’s de­mand for “a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion of this diplo­matic in­ci­dent.’’

Pres­sure has been mount­ing on the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion not to let the vi­o­lence on U.S. soil go un­pun­ished. Last week’s in­ci­dent wasn’t the first such case dur­ing an Er­do­gan visit. Last year, a sim­i­lar scuf­fle erupted out­side a nu­clear se­cu­rity sum­mit that Er­do­gan at­tended in Wash­ing­ton.

A pair of se­na­tors who over­see the U.S. for­eign aid bud­get added to the pres­sure with a let­ter to Turkey’s am­bas­sador warn­ing there could be fis­cal reper­cus­sions if Ankara fails to pun­ish the body­guards re­spon­si­ble. Sens. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., and Patrick Leahy D-Vt., said in a let­ter re­leased Mon­day that there could be “po­ten­tial im­pli­ca­tions for as­sis­tance to Turkey’’ if the unseemly in­ci­dent isn’t taken se­ri­ously by Ankara.

And a group of nearly 30 Demo­cratic law­mak­ers led by Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York wrote Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son on Mon­day de­mand­ing that the Turk­ish guards be “ar­rested, pros­e­cuted and jailed.’’ The prospect of ar­rest is un­likely — many of them have al­ready re­turned to Turkey, im­mu­nity for those posted in the U.S. is an is­sue, and the coun­tries are al­ready in an un­re­lated spat over ex­tra­di­tion.

The Democrats also faulted Tiller­son for what they sug­gested was his fail­ure to speak out loudly against the Turk­ish ac­tions.

“This kind of be­hav­iour by a for­eign se­cu­rity de­tail is rep­re­hen­si­ble and can­not be tol­er­ated,’’ they wrote.

State Depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert con­firmed that Bass had been sum­moned to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion with the Turks and called the con­duct of the Turk­ish guards “deeply dis­turb­ing.’’

“The State Depart­ment has raised its con­cerns about those events at the high­est lev­els,’’ Nauert said.

Turkey’s For­eign Min­istry said in a state­ment that a for­mal, writ­ten protest was de­liv­ered to Bass, de­scrib­ing the treat­ment of its two se­cu­rity of­fi­cers as “con­trary to diplo­matic rules and prac­tices.’’ Al­though ear­lier re­ports sug­gested the de­tained of­fi­cers had been Er­do­gan’s guards, the state­ment said they were part of For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu’s se­cu­rity de­tail. Cavu­soglu trav­elled with Er­do­gan.

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