A convoy of US-made weapons arrive in Qamishli, Rojava, Syria destined for the SDF on Tuesday. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Washington is arming “terrorists” for free, after the Trump administration withdrew their proposal to sell arms to Turkish security forces.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration had told Congress that it would allow New Hampshire gun maker Sig Sauer to sell $1.2 million in weapons to the Turkish president’s security detail, including hundreds of semi-automatic handguns and ammunition.
The notification by the administration triggered a period in which Congress would review the agreement before final approval was granted.
US lawmakers began expressing strong opposition to the sale following violence at a protest outside the home of the Turkish ambassador to Washington when Erdogan was visiting the US on May 16.
Video of the protest showed security guards and some Erdogan supporters attacking a small group of protesters with their fists and feet.
Men in dark suits and others were recorded repeatedly kicking one woman as she lay curled on a sidewalk. Another wrenched a woman's neck and threw her to the ground. A man with a bullhorn was repeatedly kicked in the face.
The protestors, who included US citizens, as well as Kurds, Yezidis, and Armenians carried anti-Erdogan signs and flags of the YPG.
A total of 19 people, including 15 identified as Turkish security officials, were indicted last month by a grand jury in Washington in connection with the incident.
The Turkish Embassy blamed the violence on demonstrators stating they were linked to the PKK, named a terrorist organization in both Turkey and the US.
The US is providing arms to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting ISIS in northern Syria. The dominant group within the SDF is the Kurdish YPG, which Ankara says is a branch of PKK. The YPG maintains it is distinct from the PKK.
“We need to fight these terrorists with the US,” Erdogan told PBS in New York on Monday. “We are not able to acquire those weapons from the US, so why are you giving those weapons to terrorists?”
US President Donald Trump and Erdogan are both in New York to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly gathering.
US lawmakers have asked the State Department to take precautions to ensure no violent incidents occur while Turkish personnel are in New York.