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President Trump lifts sanctions on Turkey

The Trump administration said the Turkish government satisfied the five-day ceasefire commitment in northern Syria.

The U.S. Treasury Department lifts sanctions against two Turkish ministries and three senior government officials after Turkey's five-day ceasefire along the northern Syrian border. [Photo Credit: Shutterstock]

President Donald Trump on Oct. 23 ordered the lifting of U.S. sanctions against three senior Turkish government officials and two ministries in response to Turkey’s five-day ceasefire along the northern Syrian border. 

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property, which had been blocked solely as a result of these designations, are unblocked and all otherwise lawful transactions involving U.S. persons and these entities and individuals are no longer prohibited,” said the U.S. Treasury Department in a statement

On Oct. 17, the U.S. had reached an agreement with Turkey that if a ceasefire with Syrian and Kurdish forces holds for the next five days then the recently announced U.S. sanctions against Turkey would be lifted. 

The deal to lift the U.S. sanctions was announced by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after they met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ministers in Ankara. 

The imposition of the sanctions came in response to President Trump’s executive order to punish the Turkish government after its recent military strikes in northern Syria. 

Turkish forces launched their attacks after Trump on Oct. 9 signed an executive order to remove U.S. troops from Syria and added that the Kurds would be on their own to defend themselves.

In the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Oct. 14 designated Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, as well as National Defense Minister Hulisi Akar, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Energy Minister Fatih Donmez.

Placement on the SDN List immediately blocked any assets or investments that these two Turkish ministries and three government officials had in the U.S. and prevented U.S. persons or companies from conducting business with them. 

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R- S.C., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., on Oct. 9 also introduced the Graham-Van Hollen Turkey Sanctions Bill, which called for much harsher sanctions against Turkey for its military incursion into northern Syria, including adding the Turkish president to the SDN List and halting U.S. military business and transactions with Turkey. The Senate has not taken up the legislation.

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.