Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is seen watching his security officials beat protesters outside the country’s embassy in Washington in newly released video footage.
The bloody clash, which sent nine people to a hospital, took place Tuesday night just hours after Erdogan met with President Trump.
CNN reported the video shows Erdogan standing near his car as the fighting broke out then turning his back and walking into the Turkish embassy.
Photos and videos of the scene on Embassy Row during rush hour showed men in dark suits punching and kicking protesters, including some who were lying on the ground. Two men were seen bleeding from the head.
The State Department, which is investigating the incident, summoned Turkey’s ambassador to the U.S., Serdar Kılıç, to the State Department, a senior State Department official told CNN.
“The conduct of Turkish security personnel earlier this week is deeply disturbing,” the official said. “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.”
Members of Erdogan’s security team also clashed with demonstrators last year outside the Brookings Institution in Washington, where Erdogan was giving a speech.
Brookings issued a statement at the time saying the security team “behaved unacceptably — they roughed up protesters outside the building and tried to drag away ‘undesired’ journalists, an approach typical of the Russians or Chinese.”
As WND reported, many geopolitical analysts are concerned the NATO nation, once regarded as a potential member of the European Union, is being systematically transformed into an anti-Western power.
Last month, Erdogan declared victory in a referendum to grant him sweeping powers in a vote opponents charged was marred by irregularities.
The measure, with 51.5 percent of the vote, replaced Turkey’s parliamentary system with an all-powerful presidency and abolished the office of prime minister.
A week before his visit to the U.S., Erdogan urged Muslims to swarm the Temple Mount to act as a counter to the “insult” of “occupied Jerusalem.”
He called Israel a “racist and discriminatory” state that is reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa.
Erdogan also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to work on “unifying efforts to protect Jerusalem against attempts of Judaization,” the independent Palestinian Maan news agency reported.
At the White House Tuesday, Trump and Erdogan described the relationship between the two countries as strong but avoided the differences over strategies for confronting ISIS in northern Syria.
Last week, the Trump administration decided to supply heavy weapons to Syrian Kurdish rebel militias, the YPG, who are part of the U.S.-backed alliance preparing march on the ISIS de-facto capital, Raqqa, later this year. Turkey is in an ongoing battle with Kurdish separatists in its southeast.
The Turkish embassy claims the protesters at the embassy Tuesday were affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the leading Kurdish separatist group, which has been banned in Turkey.
The case of Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been imprisoned in Turkey without formal charges since October, was brought up three times during Trump’s meeting with Erdogan, twice by Trump and once by Vice President Mike Pence, CBN reported.
A former member of Turkey’s Parliament who has advocated for Brunson’s release, Aykan Erdemir, told CBN that Brunson, improbably accused of “membership in an armed terrorist organization,” is now “a pawn, kind of a trump card in Erdogan’s hand.”
“There’s absolutely no rule of law, no due process in that case, it’s a completely bogus case. Anyone who has looked at the case knows that these are trumped up charges,” he said.
Turkey claims ‘self-defense’
The senior State Department official who spoke to CNN said two members of Erdogan’s security detail “were briefly detained during the altercations and subsequently released.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has called for the Turkish ambassador to be expelled.
The Turkish embassy, in its statement, claimed the protesters “began aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the President.”
“The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defense,” the statement said. “We hope that, in the future, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that similar provocative actions causing harm and violence do not occur.”