US imposes sanctions on Turkey over Syria operation
U.S. President Donald Trump on Oct. 14 said he would authorize sanctions against Turkish officials, stop negotiating with Turkey on a $100 billion trade deal, and boost tariffs on the country's steel to 50 percent over Ankara's military operation.
"The United States of America simply is not going to tolerate Turkey's invasion in Syria any further. We are calling on Turkey to stand down, end the violence and come to the negotiating table," Vice President Mike Pence told reporters.
Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and also on Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Dönmez and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.
"We are prepared to impose additional sanctions on Government of Turkey officials and entities, as necessary," the department said in a statement.
According to U.S. law, those mentioned on the sanctions list face blocking of their properties (if any) and are prevented from having trade relations with the U.S.
Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said on Oct. 14 that he "strongly" supports U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to sanction Turkey.
"The President's team has a plan and I intend to support them as strongly as possible, and to give them reasonable time and space to achieve our mutual goals," Graham said in a statement.
The move was quickly criticized as too little, too late by the top Democrat in Congress.
"His announcement of a package of sanctions against Turkey falls very short of reversing that humanitarian disaster," said U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG.
The U.S.-backed SDF, a group dominated by the YPG, has been controlling some 28 percent of the Syrian territories, including the most of the 911-kilometer-long Syria-Turkey border.
Turkey deems the YPG the Syrian offshoot of the illegal PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization also by the United States and the EU.
The announcement came shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump said his administration "will soon" be issuing an executive order authorizing the possible imposition of sanctions on Turkey, including on current and former government officials.
In a statement posted on Twitter, he added that steel tariffs will again be raised to 50% and negotiations for a $100 billion trade deal will be stopped "immediately" by the U.S. Commerce Department.
In a press briefing with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Vice President Mike Pence said Trump asked Turkey to halt its operation and to enact an immediate ceasefire and begin negotiations with the PYD/YPG.
"The president has directed me to lead a delegation to Turkey to begin these talks," said Pence.
Turkey’s leaders have repeatedly said the operation does not target Kurds, contrary to rhetoric from anti-Turkey circles, which allege that the Turkish military is harming civilians and the fight against the remnants of the ISIL terror group.
On Oct. 12, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey would assume responsibility for ISIL elements held in detention centers in northern Syria.