WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both-Del.) joined Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to introduce the Countering Turkish Aggression Act of 2019, which would levy immediate, serious sanctions against Turkey following their invasion of northeastern Syria and their slaughter of the Kurdish people.
The legislation would apply new sanctions to senior Turkish officials, including President Erdogan, key Turkish banks, military transactions, and their energy sector activities in support of the Turkish Armed Forces. It would require the U.S. Treasury to move forward with delayed sanctions under CAATSA over Turkey’s decision to obtain the S-400 Russian missile defense system. It also would prohibit U.S. military assistance to Turkey, bar President Erdogan and Turkish leadership from visiting the United States, and require reports on the net worth and assets of Mr. Erdogan amid concerns of corruption. Finally, in the wake of an ISIS resurgence in Syria, it demands a strategy from the Administration to defeat them and stabilize the region.
The bill’s sanctions will remain in place until the Administration certifies to Congress that Turkey has halted attacks against the Syrian Kurdish community, has withdrawn from all locations that they didn’t occupy prior to the October 9, 2019 invasion, and is not hindering counterterrorism operations against ISIS.
“President Trump’s foolish decision to abruptly pull U.S. troops out of Syria and leave our Kurdish allies open to predictable invasion and slaughter by Turkey has resulted in a humanitarian crisis, paved the way for the reemergence of ISIS and emboldened our adversaries like Assad and Putin,” said Senator Carper. “The Trump Administration’s approach to Syria not only threatens security in the region, but here at home. I believe that sanctions on President Erdogan of Turkey are long overdue, but I want to be clear: sanctions alone will not reverse the self-inflicted atrocities we are watching unfold in Syria as a result of President Trump’s disastrous policy. Instead, the measures included in this bill are merely one necessary response to send President Erdogan a message: his behavior is unacceptable. Importantly, this bill would also reassert appropriate Congressional oversight of U.S. policy toward Turkey by requiring reimposition of sanctions if hostilities restart in the region, or in the event that the President’s hastily negotiated ‘cease-fire’ does not hold. I am encouraged by the bipartisan support for this bill and will continue working alongside my colleagues to push President Trump to reverse his harmful decision and fix the mess he has created.”
“The President’s decision to abandon the Kurds who bravely fought ISIS on our behalf is a stain on America’s reputation around the world, but we also cannot ignore the actions of Turkey and President Erdogan to further de-stabilize Syria and the entire Middle East,” said Senator Coons. “The President has shown his lack of understanding of the Middle East, and his policies swing back and forth with little logic or reasoning. That’s why Republicans and Democrats in the Senate are stepping up to constrain the president’s recklessness and levy sanctions against Turkey to punish Erdogan for his abuses. Hopefully, this will make other dictators think twice before calling President Trump and asking him to do their bidding.”
In addition to Senators Graham, Van Hollen, Carper and Coons, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).