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Trump calls to congratulate Erdogan over Turkish referendum

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Donald Trump (L) and his National Security advisor H. R. McMaster

US President Donald Trump has called his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to congratulate him on victory in a referendum that boosts his power and plays a key role in the future of the country and the rest of the region.

He  made the call Monday after the ‘Yes’ campaign won over 51 percent of the votes during Sunday’s referendum, while the 'No' campaign gained nearly 49 percent.

The reforms will change Turkey’s parliamentary system into a presidential one; the office of the prime minister will be abolished; the president will appoint the cabinet and an undefined number of vice-presidents, and will be able to select and remove senior civil servants without parliamentary approval.

The changes would also potentially keep Erdogan in power until 2029.

The American president’s congratulatory tone appears to run counter to an earlier statement by the US State Department, asserting that the referendum took place in an environment where “fundamental freedoms essential to a genuinely democratic process were curtailed.”

Apart from congratulating, thanking and voicing support for Erdogan, Trump also talked about his recent missile attack against the Syrian government.

He made the call to "congratulate him on his recent referendum victory and to discuss the United States’ action in response to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons," according to a White House release. 

Two US Navy destroyers fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea at Syria’s al-Shayrat airfield late on April 7 in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack that Washington blamed on Syrian fighter jets operating from the base.

Syria has denied carrying out the attack, maintaining that it was a false-flag one to criminalize Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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