By Josh Lederman
NEW YORK (AP) — The Trump administration has withdrawn a proposal to let Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security guards buy $1.2 million in U.S.-made weapons, a congressional official said September 18, following violence against protesters during Erdogan’s visit to Washington this spring.
Earlier this year, the administration told Congress that it planned to allow New Hampshire gunmaker Sig Sauer to sell the weapons, which include hundreds of semi-automatic handguns and ammunition. The notification triggered a period in which Congress could review the deal before final approval is granted. The weapons would have gone to an intermediary in Turkey for use by Erdogan’s presidential security forces.
But US lawmakers began expressing strong opposition to the sale after a violent incident on May 16, which was caught-on-camera outside the home of the Turkish ambassador to Washington as Erdogan was visiting. Nineteen people including 15 identified as Turkish security officials have been indicted by a US grand jury for attacking peaceful protesters.
The incident was one of several during visits by top Turkish officials to the US that have raised serious questions about the behavior of Turkish security forces on American soil.
In June, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., wrote Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to reject the deal and calling the conduct of the Turkish guards “unprofessional and brutal.” A Senate panel has also approved a measure that would block the sale.