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Michael Rubin: Why are Erdogan’s Thugs Running Free in DC?

This article first appeared on the American Enterprise Institute site.[1]

For the second time in as many years, Turkish security officers attacked Turkish protesters and other bystanders in Washington, DC. Last year, the venue was the Brookings Institution[2], where members of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan s entourage tried to forcibly remove invited guests and journalists whom they believed might ask tough questions. That the guards came prepared to intercept certain people shows a degree of planning that makes what already was a bad situation even worse.

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Michael Rubin: Why Are Erdogan's Thugs Running Free In DC?Donald Trump welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House in Washington, DC, May 16, 2017. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty

This year, the attack happened outside the Turkish ambassador s home, where the Atlantic Council had handpicked a friendly audience to engage with Erdogan.

Related: Michael Rubin : More Evidence of Erdogan’s Referendum Rigging[4]

The video of the attack is disturbing and appears to show Erdogan watching[5] the charge of some security guards into the crowd to beat, strangle and stomp on demonstrators. Unlike at Brookings, videos show not only security guards involved in the melee, but also at least one journalist[6] from Turkey s state-controlled outlets like Anadolu Agency.

The initial State Department response was weak. Yes, many in Erdogan s entourage have diplomatic immunity, but diplomatic immunity can be waived. And if the Turkish ambassador chooses not to do so, there can be consequences such as declaring certain officials persona non grata and demanding they leave Washington.

Related: Michael Rubin : Erdogan’s Dangerous Game Against the Kurds[7]

Turkish journalists who participated in the ruckus should face their day in court and, if found guilty, should serve their sentence in prison for assault. And, at the very least, every Erdogan guard accompanying the president on his trip to Washington should be blacklisted from the United States for life. Fool me once, fool me twice, but do not fool me a third time. The problem here is deeper than a single incident. As the antics of Erdogan s aides and the Turkish Embassy in Washington escalate and if the State Department does nothing significant to address the problem Washington could one day soon see a situation reminiscent of the 1984 Yvonne Fletcher murder in London.

In that case, a British policewoman securing a protest at the Libyan Embassy to the United Kingdom was shot and killed[8] by a gunmen from inside the embassy who was shielded by Libyan claims of immunity. Congress is also at fault. Congressmen and senators joining the Congressional Turkey Caucus[9] through their membership endorse Erdogan s actions. With regard to autocrats, weakness encourages misbehavior. No longer is the issue Turkish diplomatic sensitivity. When it comes to Americans safety at home, security and lawfulness are issues the State Department should never sacrifice.

Michael Rubin, a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is a former Pentagon official whose major research areas are the Middle East, Turkey, Iran and diplomacy. Rubin instructs senior military officers deploying to the Middle East and Afghanistan on regional politics, and teaches classes regarding Iran, terrorism, and Arab politics on board deploying U.S. aircraft carriers. Rubin has lived in post-revolution Iran, Yemen, both pre- and post-war Iraq, and spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. His newest book, Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes examines a half century of U.S. diplomacy with rogue regimes and terrorist groups.[10][11][12]


  1. ^ This article first appeared on the American Enterprise Institute site. (
  2. ^ venue was the Brookings Institution (
  3. ^ Subscribe to Newsweek from $1 per week (
  4. ^ Michael Rubin : More Evidence of Erdogan’s Referendum Rigging (
  5. ^ show Erdogan watching (
  6. ^ also at least one journalist (
  7. ^ Michael Rubin : Erdogan’s Dangerous Game Against the Kurds (
  8. ^ shot and killed (
  9. ^ Congressional Turkey Caucus (
  10. ^ Michael Rubin, (
  11. ^ American Enterprise Institute, (
  12. ^ Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes (

Artist projects anti-Trump hashtags on FBI, DOJ buildings in D.C.


The artist responsible for Monday night’s “Pay Bribes Here” projection onto the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., has struck again.

Artist Robin Bell[1]has spearheaded the guerilla light protests.

Artist Projects Anti-Trump Hashtags On FBI, DOJ Buildings In D.C.

President Trump’s Washington hotel is briefly illuminated with projected messages by Robin Bell, a Washington-based artist and filmmaker.

(Liz Gorman via AP)

On Thursday night, Bell projected the following on the Department of Justice and FBI buildings in Washington, which are in between the White House and the U.S. Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue:

  • “#SessionsMustGo”
  • “#WeNeedToSeeTheMemo”
  • “#FireSessions”
  • “#RefusalToRecuse”

The visuals showed figures like Sessions, Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump (surrounded by dollar bills), and others. The “memo” hashtag refers to an alleged document written by former FBI Director James Comey following a discussion with Trump about the scandal-plagued former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. On Monday night, Bell took his projector to the Trump Hotel, where he also flashed the saying “Emoluments Welcome” on the building.

Artist Projects Anti-Trump Hashtags On FBI, DOJ Buildings In D.C.

Robin Bell projects anti-Jeff Sessions hashtags and quotes on May 18, 2017.

(Robin Bell via Periscope)

Bell chose the hotel to draw attention to accusations that foreign leaders could gain access to the commander-in-chief by purchasing rooms at the resort. He began the light show from a van parked across the street at around 9:15 p.m. Monday. Within 10 minutes a security guard had blocked the light.

Bell began Thursday’s display around the same time.

Bell told the Daily News[2] earlier this week, “We had a couple of great moments. A tour bus pulled up, people started clapping and taking photos. Everyone on the street, except for the security guard, seemed really happy.”

Artist Projects Anti-Trump Hashtags On FBI, DOJ Buildings In D.C.

An anti-Trump image appears in the visual work of artist Robin Bell.

(Robin Bell via Periscope)

Shortly after the November election, Bell projected “Experts Agree: Trump is a Pig” on the D.C. hotel. It’s across the street from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has been protested over the selection of Scott Pruitt to administer it.

Bell told the Los Angeles Times[3] that he enjoys coordinating the displays because “People will hang out and start to talk about things.”

“The whole thing is that you’re trying to create this space,” he told the L.A. Times.

Tags: fbi[4] washington dc[5] donald trump[6] mike pence[7] james comey[8] michael flynn[9]

D.C.’s Chickery Headed to Palo Alto and more A.M. Intel

Chicken chain bound for Palo Alto

The Chickery, a Washington, D.C.-based rotisserie and fried chicken franchise, plans to open its first West Coast location in the Bay Area. The destination is Palo Alto at 3850 El Camino Real, and the targeted opening is this summer. [Eaterwire]

Refugee-focused nonprofit coffee shop hosts first fundraiser

Downtown Berkeley s nonprofit, mission-driven coffee company 1951 Coffee hosts its first official fundraiser on Saturday, May 20 at 6 p.m. Tickets[1] for an evening of wine, music, and food catered by a newly arrived Syrian family support the shop s mission of promoting the wellbeing of the refugee community in the San Francisco Bay Area by providing job training and employment to refugees and asylees while educating the surrounding community about refugee life and issues. [Eaterwire]

Grocery Outlet security guard threatens shopper

Video shows a security guard at the newly opened[2] Mission District grocery store Grocery Outlet harassing a customer[3]. Off camera, the guard allegedly rushed the customer, threatening to taser him. Getting lower-cost groceries is wonderful, but not when you and people who look like you (black people) cannot go in there safely without getting shot, tased or harassed by some racist security personnel, the customer wrote. Grocery Outlet s owner says he was appalled, and the guard has been fired. [Hoodline] [Mission Local]

Petaluma s Thistle Meats back open under Travis Day

Downtown Petaluma butcher shop Thistle Meats is back open with accomplished chef/butcher Travis Day at the helm. Day was most recently chef de cuisine at SF s Oro and brings experience from Commonwealth, Central Kitchen, and Salumeria to the butcher shop, where he ll have sandwiches, pates, and cured meats aplenty. [Eaterwire]

Scarlet Lounge opens in the Inner Richmond

A trio of bartenders and patrons of the now-closed downtown dive Dave s have opened[4] an establishment of their own, Scarlet Lounge. The location is the former Side Bar space 408 Clement Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues and right next to music venue Neck of the Woods. [Hoodline]

Steal the look from Single Thread s dining room

Get the midcentury living room aesthetic from Healdsburg s Single Thread with Eater s new Shop the Restaurant[5] guide. We ve broken down the look created by James Beard award-winning designers Avroko, from the upholstered seating to the Japanese clay pots. You ll need those to recreate Single Thread s menu, but for that, you re on your own. [Eater]


  1. ^ Tickets (
  2. ^ newly opened (
  3. ^ harassing a customer (
  4. ^ have opened (
  5. ^ Shop the Restaurant (
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