Eleven more members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail have had charges against them dropped by prosecutors in Washington, DC. The attack took place during Erdogan’s trip to Washington last May. Erdogan was met by Kurdish protesters outside the Turkish Embassy, who became involved in a shouting match with members of Erdogan’s security detail.
As video of the event demonstrates, US police agencies were unable to maintain a tight enough cordon around Erdogan’s security detail, with members of the detail penetrating US lines to attack and beat the protesters. Video of the attack is enough to get any red-blooded American’s blood boiling, as it shows police having to rush around to beat off Erdogan’s thugs. There is absolutely no excuse for that type of violence against protesters exercising their First Amendment rights, particularly by agents of a foreign government.
It’s particularly incensing because this wasn’t the first time Erdogan’s security detail has done this in the United States. Previous Erdogan visits to the US have also seen his security officers attacking protesters. Even after the incident last May, Erdogan continued to travel to the United States and his security detail continued to attack protesters.
Yet despite that history of violence, prosecutors have decided to drop charges against almost all of the 19 members of the security detail who were originally implicated in the May attack. Despite the fact that Erdogan continues to consolidate power in Turkey and put the country on a path from a secular republic to an Islamist one, Washington continues to kiss up to him.
In part that is because of the continued US presence at the Incirlik air base in Turkey, which was built by the United States in the 1950s. The base continues to house US Air Force personnel involved in the anti-ISIS campaign in the Middle East, as well as approximately 50 tactical nuclear weapons. Erdogan’s provocations have led to a deterioration of relations with Germany, after he refused to allow German lawmakers to visit German troops stationed at the base. Germany is considering removing all of its soldiers and aircraft stationed at the base, yet the United States continues to remain despite being at the mercy of Turkish forces.
While prosecutors claimed that they didn’t have any pressure placed on them to drop charges against the Turkish agents, it’s curious that this latest move comes just as Turkey is going rogue in Syria. Turkish-backed forces recently captured the Syrian city of Afrin, committing numerous atrocities along the way, and Erdogan has pledged to push further into Syria, pitting Turkish forces against US-backed Syrian militias and potentially against US and Russian troops themselves.
Perhaps the US government urged the prosecutors to drop the charges in an attempt to appease Turkey, although that isn’t likely to be successful. But with US forces at Incirlik being only a minor crisis away from being Erdogan’s hostages, perhaps authorities felt that they had no choice but to give in and let the Turkish officials get away with their bad behavior.