U.S. and Turkey

Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Lindsey Graham announced an outline to impose sanctions against Turkey for attacking Kurdish forces in Syria.

On Wednesday, Turkey’s military began Operation Peace Spring, launching air and land attacks against Kurdish forces in northern Syria after President Donald Trump gave the nation tacit approval Sunday when he announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region.

The move by Trump has been criticized as abandoning the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State. The SDF is headed by the Syrian branch of the Kurdish Worker’s Party, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization.

“This unlawful and unwarranted attack against an American friend and partner threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of civilians, many of whom have already fled from their homes elsewhere in Syria to find safety in this region,” the senators said in a statement. “This invasion will ensure the resurgence of [IS] in Syria, embolden America’s enemies including al-Qaeda, Iran and Russia, and launch yet another endless conflict in what had been, until today, one of the most safe and stable areas of Syria.”

If enacted, the wide-sweeping sanctions would be immediately imposed every 90 days that Turkey is operating without U.S. support in Syria or until it withdraws its forces.

The sanctions, if enacted, would apply to the U.S. assets of Turkey’s political leadership, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The sanctions would also apply to any person who sells or provides funds, material or technological support to the Turkish military and prohibit the United States from selling it arms and military services.
A close ally of the president, Graham, R-S.C., urged Trump to change his position.

“American is better than this,” he said in a tweet. “Please stand up to Turkey, Mr. President.”

Hollen, D-Md., said he will ask Congress for an immediate vote on the sanctions framework as soon as it reconvenes “to send a clear message to Turkey that it must cease and desist its military action.”

“Turkey must pay a heavy price for attacking our Syrian Kurdish partners,” Hollen said via Twitter. “Senators on both sides of the aisle won’t support abandoning the one regional group most responsible for putting [IS] on its heels.”

Along with Graham, other Republicans and Trump allies have criticized the president’s removal of U.S. troops from Syria that allowed Erdogan’s military to move in.

Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., condemned Trump’s decision, saying it was resulting in “sickening and predictable consequences.”

“The U.S. is abandoning our ally the Kurds, who fought [IS] on the ground and helped protect the U.S. homeland,” she said in a statement. “… This action imperils American security and that of our allies. Congress must and will act to limit the catastrophic impact of this decision.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the consequences to the United States because of Trump’s decision will be great.

“At request of this administration, the Kurds served as the primary ground fighters against IS in Syria so U.S. troops wouldn’t have to. Then cut a deal with Erdogan allowing him to wipe them out,” Rubio said in a tweet. “Damage to our reputation & national interest will be extraordinary & long-lasting.”

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