Senators Graham and Van Hollen introduce plan for Turkey sanctions

Turkey launches airstrikes in northern Syria

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen introduced an outline to impose sanctions on Turkey for unilaterally invading northeastern Syria on Wednesday, after President Trump tacitly gave a green light to Turkey by drawing back American troops at key posts. Graham, a close ally of the president, has criticized this move as shortsighted and a betrayal of the Kurds living in the region, who have played a crucial role in helping the U.S. in the fight against ISIS.

Graham tweeted the agreement he made with Van Hollen to impose mandatory sanctions on Turkey “unless the Administration certifies to Congress – every 90 days – that Turkey is not operating unilaterally (without U.S. support east of the Euphrates and west of the Iraqi border) in Syria and has withdrawn its armed forces, including Turkish supported rebels, from areas it occupied during the operation beginning on October 09, 2019.”

“Most Members of Congress believe it would be wrong to abandon the Kurds who have been strong allies against ISIS,” Graham wrote in a second tweet. It is not yet clear if this legislation could pass, or if it would have a veto-proof majority in Congress.

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The sanctions would be imposed on the assets of top Turkish officials including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as sanctions on military transactions and Turkey’s energy sector. Mr. Trump has threatened to “destroy” the Turkish economy if Turkey oversteps in Syria.

“Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump administration. This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS,” Graham tweeted earlier Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump offered no verbal support Wednesday afternoon for Kurdish allies he is accused of abandoning. Instead, Mr. Trump said they have “wanted to fight, and that’s the way it is.” He also said Turkey is now responsible for keeping ISIS fighters in prisons in the region, which Kurdish allies have been guarding.

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