Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for North America

Newsline: Turkish president condemns US decision to charge bodyguards after embassy brawl

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan furiously condemned the United States for charging two of Erdogan’s bodyguards for the bloody May brawl outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. In a statement, Turkey’s ministry of foreign affairs said the arrests of Erdogan’s bodyguards are “wrong, biased and lacks legal basis” following the melee that sent nine protesters to the hospital. “That the brawl in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence was caused by the failure of local security authorities to take necessary measures; that this incident would not have occurred if the US authorities had taken the usual measures they take in similar high level visits and therefore that Turkish citizens cannot be held responsible for the incident that took place,” the ministry’s statement reads, according to reports. In televised remarks Thursday night, Erdogan furiously attacked his NATO ally for the arrests. He explained that his bodyguards’ presence at the brawl was merely to protect him, despite video that shows him watching from a nearby car while his guards are fighting. “Why would I take my guards to the United States if not to protect myself?” Erdogan asked. D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham said that the violence at the embassy was unprecedented, and that the Turkish Embassy’s “self-defense” explanation wouldn’t fly.


Newsline: Turkish guards charged in embassy protests in Washington

D.C. authorities announce criminal charges Thursday against 12 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail and the police force who authorities say attacked protesters outside the ambassador’s residence last month, according to two officials familiar with the case. Police officials say arrest warrants have been issued and that the suspects, all believed to be in Turkey, are now wanted in the United States. The charges come nearly a month after the clashes at Sheridan Circle along Massachusetts Avenue’s Embassy Row. Police and other officials say various members of Erdogan’s visiting security team, some of them armed, attacked a group protesting his regime as police struggled to restore order. People injured in the May 16 attack and U.S. lawmakers have criticized the initial response, which was complicated by issues of diplomatic immunity and relations with Turkey, which is sure to be angry over the warrants. Officials at the Turkish Embassy in Washington could not be reached. Some critics were angry that police did not make more arrests on the spot. The U.S. State Department ordered a federal police agency to release two presidential guards taken into custody, saying they had diplomatic immunity.


Newsline: US ambassador to Qatar to step down amid diplomatic crisis

US ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith announced Tuesday that she will step down later this month, as planned, after serving in the post for three years. Her decision comes in the midst of a major diplomatic crisis in the region, a week after major Gulf nations severed ties with Doha. “This month, I end my 3 years as U.S. Ambassador to #Qatar. It has been the greatest honor of my life and I’ll miss this great country,” she tweeted. US ambassadorships typically last three years and a source close to Smith told CNN that she is leaving Qatar as planned now that her post is over. Smith will also conclude her 25-year career in the foreign service once her post ends, the source said. In May, Smith made headlines after taking the rare step of expressing frustration with the Trump administration for complicating American diplomats’ work overseas.


Newsline: Australian husband of diplomat kept Ethiopian girl as sex slave

Four maids were abused by Russell Howard, the Australian husband of US diplomat Linda Howard, who kept an Ethiopian girl as a virtual prisoner and sex slave. The Australian has exclusively revealed that as well as keeping the girl as his sex slave while living with his wife on a diplomatic posting in Tokyo, he also abused three further maids. Russell Howard, who died in 2012 following a US Department of Justice investigation into the Ethiopian maid, abused other women in Yemen. New evidence uncovered by the a US State Department investigation claims this happened while Linda Howard was on a posting in the Middle Eastern country. Linda Howard has since moved to Victoria, where she lives in the Melbourne suburb of Docklands.


Newsline: UAE Ambassador to US Urges Qatar Re-Examine Regional Policies

Qatar must re-examine its policies in the region now that US President Donald Trump has challenged the country over its support for extremists, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba said. “The UAE welcomes President Trump’s leadership in challenging Qatar’s troubling support for extremism. The next step is for Qatar to acknowledge these concerns and commit to reexamine its regional policies. This will provide the necessary basis for any discussions,” Otaiba said in a statement on Friday.


Newsline: Russian embassy threatens to close American facilities in Russia

Russia’s American embassy demanded that the United States return diplomatic compounds seized by the Obama administration amid spying accusations last year, warning that it would retaliate if America refuses. The embassy’s official Twitter levied the threat along with a picture that appears to be of Americans at a U.S. compound in Moscow. “If Washington fails to restore diplomatic immunity of [Russian] property there will be a tit-for-tat response in regard to U.S. facilities in Russia,” the tweet reads. America seized and shuttered two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York last December in retribution for revelations that Russians hacked and released internal communications by the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to destabilize the presidential election. Then-President Obama accused the Russians at the time of using the two compounds for “intelligence-related purposes.” The administration also expelled 35 Russians accused by the administration of being “intelligence operatives.” The Russians did not immediately retaliate, instead releasing a statement that dismissed the Obama administration and said the country would wait until then-President-elect Trump took office. The Washington Post reported this week that the Trump administration is weighing returning the compounds.


Newsline: Explosion Hits US Embassy In Ukraine

Ukrainian authorities say a device has exploded in the U.S. Embassy compound in central Kyiv, causing no casualties. The blast hit the embassy located in the Shevchenkovsky district at around midnight, police said on June 8. “Investigators found that an unknown person threw an explosive device onto the grounds of the diplomatic mission,” a statement said, adding that a criminal case had been opened to look into the incident. There was no immediate comment from the U.S. Embassy.