Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate to impose severe economic sanctions on Turkey’s political leadership and military for recent attacks against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
Turkey immediately took military action after President 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.
“Most members of Congress believe it would be wrong to abandon the Kurds, who have been strong allies against ISIS,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R- S.C., who along with Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., introduced the Graham-Van Hollen Turkey Sanctions Bill on Oct. 9.
Van Hollen said the sanctions would be placed on U.S. assets of senior Turkish government officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as prohibit all U.S. military business and transactions with Turkey and activate the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on Turkey.
The sanctions would place immediate prohibitions on U.S. defense transactions with Turkey, including aircraft and related parts used by the Turkish air force, automotive equipment and services used by the Turkish army and navy, and weapons.
The senators’ legislation would also sanction “any foreign person or entity who supplies goods, services, technology, information or other support that maintains or supports Turkey’s domestic petroleum production and natural gas production for use by its armed forces.”
“These sanctions will remain in place until the executive branch certifies to Congress that Turkey is not engaged in military activities in Syria east of the Euphrates and west of the Iraqi border and that all Turkish and Turkish-partner fighters have been withdrawn from Syrian territories impacted by the Turkish military operation that began [Oct. 9],” Van Hollen said in a statement.
The Graham-Van Hollen legislation, however, would exempt from Turkey sanctions humanitarian aid, medical assistance, democracy promotion and intelligence sharing.
After declaring the Kurds were on their own to defend themselves in northern Syria, President Trump on Oct. 10 said he supported sanctions against Turkey. “I say hit Turkey very hard financially & with sanctions if they don’t play by the rules! I am watching closely,” he tweeted.