Ankara has strongly condemned the decision by U.S. authorities to issue arrest warrants for members of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's security personnel and several Turkish citizens.
During President Erdoğan's visit to the U.S. on May 16, supporters of the PKK terrorist organization, officially recognized as such by the U.S., triggered a melee outside of Turkey's embassy in Washington, D.C. Following the incident, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the failure by U.S. authorities to effectively take precautions was the main cause of the incident. Commenting on the decision, Erdoğan said on Thursday evening that his security personnel were present at the melee merely to protect him.
"If my bodyguards cannot protect me then why am I bringing them to the U.S. with me?" he questioned. The president explained that PKK terrorists and members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) began protesting against him just yards away from where he was standing with his bodyguards.
"The U.S. police were doing nothing. Can you imagine what the response would have been if a similar incident had taken place in Turkey," he added. After Washington's decision to issue an arrest warrant for members of Erdoğan's security personnel, Turkey's Foreign Ministry summoned on June 15 the U.S. ambassador to Ankara, John Bass. The Foreign Ministry called the decision "wrong and partial" while underlining that U.S. authorities failed to take necessary precautions around the embassy."It has been conveyed to the ambassador that this decision taken by U.S. authorities is wrong, biased and lacks legal basis and the brawl in front of the Turkish ambassador's residence was caused by the failure of local security authorities to take necessary measures. This incident would not have occurred if U.S. authorities had taken the necessary measures they take in similar high-level visits. Therefore, Turkish citizens cannot be held responsible for the incident that took place," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Foreign Ministry also said that U.S. authorities tolerated PKK supporters and so-called protesters and allowed them to come too close to the residence of the ambassador.
"The ambassador of the U.S. in Ankara has also been informed that the tolerance of U.S. authorities towards the so-called protesters to come as close as a few meters to the Turkish residence with flags and symbols of a terrorist organization and commit an assault to innocent citizens while no action is taken against the U.S. authorities who assaulted the security guards of our minister in front of the chancery, run counter to any understanding of justice," the statement read.
On May 16, the first fight reportedly broke out at the Turkish embassy when supporters of the terrorist group threw water bottles at Turkish citizens, triggering a 10-to-15 second scuffle in the middle of the road. Only two police officers interceded in the fight and it was clear the police were not ready, as there were only around 10 police officers outside the embassy.
Later, when Erdoğan arrived at the embassy building, protesters continued their grave insults, shouted slogans and threw more bottles. The head of the president's security detail stepped in, followed by Turkish citizens who were there to see their president. Only after security interceded, the protesting group was able to be dispersed.