Turkey elections: Trump congratulates his 'friend' Erdogan on victory
Former US President Donald Trump offered enthusiastic congratulations to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for winning his reelection to a third term in office, calling the Turkish leader a friend.
Trump took to Truth Social, the social media platform he created, and said Erdogan's win was a "well-deserved victory".
“I know him well, he is a friend, and have learned firsthand how much he loves his Country and the great people of Turkey, which he has lifted to a new level of prominence and respect!” Trump said.
Trump's time in office overlapped with Erdogan's tenure as president. Turkey switched from a parliamentary to a presidential system in 2018, with Erdogan as chief executive. And while the US-Turkey relationship was rocky through that period, the two leaders appeared to be on friendly terms with occasional heated exchanges.
During that time, the US removed Turkey from the joint F-35 fighter jet programme and issued sanctions on Turkey over the detention of American pastor, Andrew Brunson.
However, Trump also ordered the withdrawal of troops from northern Syria and did not stand in the way of a major Turkish incursion into that area in October 2019.
Trump previously referred to Erdogan as a friend and a "hell of a leader", and their relationship stretches to before Trump's political career.
In 2012, during the opening of the Trump Towers in Istanbul, the American real estate tycoon and host of the reality television series, The Apprentice, said that then-prime minister Erdogan was a "highly respected" world leader.
“He’s a good man. He’s just representing you very well,” Trump said at the time.
His warm remarks towards the Turkish leader over the weekend come as he himself is gearing up for a 2024 presidential bid. Trump is the current front-runner in the upcoming Republican presidential primary election, in which he faces a challenge from current Florida governor, Ron DeSantis.
US President Joe Biden, who is also vying for reelection in 2024, offered a more muted congratulations to Erdogan, saying: "I look forward to continuing to work together as Nato Allies on bilateral issues and shared global challenges."
Biden and Erdogan have had a more strained relationship. Experts have told Middle East Eye that with Erdogan going into his third term as president, the two Nato allies will continue on their current track of transactional ties.
“Every time a major event happens, whether it's the outbreak of war or an election in the US and Turkey, people predict an opportunity for a reset, but it never happens and it definitely won’t this time,” Nicholas Danforth, a US-Turkey expert at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, told MEE last week.