Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Turkey wants U.S. envoy removed in growing spat over Syrian Kurds

The two leaders touted strong ties between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, but Erdogan emphasized his country will not accept Syrian Kurdish fighters in the region while stopping short of directly criticizing a USA decision to arm them.

Two men were also arrested by D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department on the scene - Jalal Kheirabaoi of Fairfax, VA, and Ayten Necmi of Woodside, NY, according to police reports.

"Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest", said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

Eleven people were injured, including a police officer, and nine were taken to a hospital, the police chief, Peter Newsham, said at a news conference Wednesday. The Anadolu Agency, a state-owned Turkish news service, reported that members of the president's security team were involved in the attack.

The Turkish Embassy in a statement blamed the violence on demonstrators, stating they were "aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the president". "And I thought, 'okay I'm on the ground already, what is the objective to beat me?'" "We are telling you this now in advance", Erdogan said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is pleading for the replacement of Brett McGurk, the United States presidential envoy for the US-led coalition against IS. Witnesses reportedly said that the protesters were demanding that a pro-Kurdish lawmaker, Selahattin Demirtas, be released from prison in Turkey.

"We strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday (Tuesday, May 16 - Ed.) outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington", the senators said in a statement Wednesday.

The US "should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America", Senator John McCain of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Service committee said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe". "The State Department has raised its concerns about these events at the highest levels and a thorough investigation that will allow us to hold the responsible individuals accountable is of the utmost importance to us".

Turkey regards the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is deemed a terrorist organisation by the United States, Turkey and the European Union.

The Turkish embassy did not respond to questions about why video evidence contradicts their statement or whether they believe violent attacks are an appropriate response to protests.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on May 18 that Brett McGurk, the USA special envoy to the coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), should be removed from his post as he "supports terrorist groups".

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