Tensions stemming from last week's massive brawl, caught on video, between pro-Kurdish protesters and Turkish President Recep Erdogan's security detail, escalated on Monday after, paradoxically, Turkey lodged a formal complaint with John Bass, the U.S. ambassador in Ankara, over purportedly "aggressive" actions taken by American security personnel. The complaint accused U.S. law enforcement of failing to quell an "unpermitted" and "provocative" demonstration, and demanded a "full investigation of this diplomatic incident," according to WaPo. It failed to mention that Erdogan's entourage was more than fully equipped to deal with this "demonstration", by attacking and beating random protesters, sending a dozen of them in the hospital.
Reuters added that the Turkish government summoned the U.S. ambassador on Monday to discuss the treatment of Erdogan’s bodyguards following Tuesday's incident outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. It appears that in the span of just five days, the two sides developed drastically different accounts of what happened, with U.S. police accusing Erdogan's bodyguards of viciously attacking the allegedly peaceful protesters. The State Department called the conduct of Erdogan's body guards "deeply disturbing" and has "raised concerns about those events at the highest levels," according to a spokeswoman who spoke with WaPo.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Embassy said last week that Erdogan's bodyguards had acted in self-defense, and that the protesters were affiliated with the Kurdish terrorist group PKK. Some of the protesters were waving the flag of the YPG, the Kurdish militia organization, that the U.S. recently pledged to arm and which Turkey accuses of being terrorist.
The exact nature of the "mistreatment" to which Turkey is objecting remains unclear. Two people were arrested during the brawl, which Reuters is now reporting left 11 people injured, including a Washington police officer. It's been confirmed that one of those arrested was a protester. However, it's unclear if the second was a member of Erdogan’s entourage.
Since the incident, nothing but outrage has been building up at both the State Department and Capitol Hill. John McCain angrily (of course) accused Erdogan’s entourage of disrespecting their hosts, fuming to the press that the U.S. isn’t “a third world country” and that the Turkish ambassador should “get the hell out” of the U.S. And at least one Democratic Congressman asked President Donald Trump to officially expel the foreign minister.
Footage of what the Washington police chief described as “a vicious attack” shows security guards dressed in suits viciously kicking and punching protesters. In one particularly grisly scene, a security official repeatedly kicks an injured protester in the face.
The brawl occurred just hours after Erdogan and Trump had wrapped up a historic meeting at the White House where both Trump and the Turkish leader, fresh from his power-enhancing referendum victory, smiled during a press conference and pledged to renew frayed relations between the two countries. Erdogan arrived in Washington with misgivings about the U.S.’s decision to arm the YPG, as well as the Trump administration’s refusal to hand over Fetullah Gulen, a cleric living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Erdogan has accused Gulen, a former ally, or orchestrating the July coup attempt that left more than 200 Turks dead.
While it remains unclear what triggered the melee, it no longer appears relevant: the ensuing diplomatic fallout has overshadowed talks that both Turkey and the U.S. had described as constructive.