Back in March, major news outlets reported on a story that, on the surface, seemed insane. Former CIA Director, James Woolsey, alleged that he attended a meeting in September, 2016 with officials from Turkey and Donald Trump's foreign policy mentor, Mike Flynn.
Woolsey said he arrived to the meeting late, and when he walked in, he was shocked to hear Flynn and the Turkish government stooges discussing how best to kidnap an American citizen and Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen. Once Gulen was successfully nabbed, the group plotted to send Gulen back to his native Turkey to face punishment by the autocratic president there, Tayyip Erdogan. It turns out, Erdogan believes Gulan was responsible for a botched coup attempt against Erdogan last Summer.
If you've been following the RussiaGate story, you might already be familiar with Erdogan. Among other things, Mike Flynn is being paid by the Turkish government to function as a consultant -- a gig he only recently acknowledged by registering as a foreign agent. Erdogan is also incrementally rounding up dissidents, journalists and political opponents under the coup pretext. And, this week, Erdogan appears to have successfully augmented his presidential powers via a referendum.
The referendum, among other things, greatly diminishes the influence and power of Turkey's parliament. It also eliminates the nation's prime minister, while significantly empowering the office of the presidency. All good news for Erdogan, who's actively consolidating his despotic control over all aspects of the Turkish government, including the military and the judiciary. Specifically, the referendum changes the following, according to the BBC:
- The role of prime minister will be scrapped. The new post of vice president, possibly two or three, will be created.
- The president becomes the head of the executive, as well as the head of state, and retains ties to a political party.
- He or she will be given sweeping new powers to appoint ministers, prepare the budget, choose the majority of senior judges and enact certain laws by decree.
- The president alone will be able to announce a state of emergency and dismiss parliament.
- Parliament will lose its right to scrutinise ministers or propose an enquiry. However, it will be able to begin impeachment proceedings or investigate the president with a majority vote by MPs. Putting the president on trial would require a two-thirds majority.
- The number of MPs will increase from 550 to 600.
- Presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on the same day every five years. The president will be limited to two terms.
As of this writing, the vote on the referendum is leaning in Erdogan's direction with around 51 percent of the vote. Erdogan declared victory on Monday, an act that was followed closely by, yes, a congratulatory phone call from Donald Trump.
President Donald Trump reiterated US support for Turkey as a "close, long-standing" partner, during a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday.
The 45-minute call wasn't the first time Trump legitimized the increasingly dictatorial rule of Erdogan. Back in July, following the coup attempt, Trump said of Erdogan, "I give him great credit for being able to turn that around."
It's unclear why Trump would call to congratulate an autocrat for successfully curtailing democratic rights, though we can take a guess as to why Trump did what he did. By now it's more than obvious that Trump is attracted to strong-man dictator types. You might recall how Trump praised the Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte after a crackdown on drug users that left 4,500 people murdered/executed. Trump said Duterte "did the right thing."
While certain media outlets are attempting to either legitimize Trump or to downplay his potentially treasonous collusion with Russia to hijack our elections, it's more crucial now than ever to keep a close eye on which overseas dictators Trump is palling around with. He's either learning from his buddies or he's offering U.S. support in their endeavors -- or both.