Oct 14, 2019

Trump authorizes sanctions on Turkish officials for Syria invasion

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Trump at the White House in May 2017. Photo: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump signed an executive order on Monday authorizing the imposition of sanctions on current and former Turkish officials, senior administration officials told reporters Monday.

Why it matters: Trump's removal of nearly all U.S. troops from Syria created bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill, prompting members of Congress to immediately prepare sanctions bills of their own in retaliation. As Axios' Dave Lawler notes, Trump is now preempting those looming sanctions with steps of his own.

  • However, some Democratic lawmakers have already said that sanctions on Turkey alone are not enough.  
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said as much in a Monday statement, arguing that Trump must "correct course" and reverse the troop withdrawal.

The White House is pressing for a cease-fire in the region. Trump directed a senior level delegation to depart for Ankara, Turkey, as quickly as possible, the officials said, adding that he would not send a high level delegation on such short notice unless he was pretty confident there was a chance at making a deal to stop the Turkish invasion.

  • The officials said the conflict is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's fault, not Trump's.
  • "Moving a few men around in northern Syria" was not going to change much, one official said, adding that Erdogan was going to move ahead with the invasion regardless of whether the U.S. had troops on the ground.
  • The administration also announced a suspension of trade talks with Turkey and increased steel tariffs to 50%.

The officials would not say whether ISIS fighters have escaped imprisonment as a result of the fighting.

Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to show that the U.S. delegation was sent to Ankara, Turkey (not to Africa).

Go deeper

Trump confirms near-total Syria withdrawal while warning of costs for Turkey

Trump and Erdogan in 2017. Photo: Brenadan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump has confirmed that nearly all U.S. troops in Syria will be leaving the country while warning Turkey of repercussions for its offensive against Kurdish forces who had been key U.S. allies.

  • In a lengthy statement, Trump said the U.S. forces leaving Syria will remain in the region to guard against an ISIS resurgence. He also announced a suspension of trade talks with Turkey, a hike in steel tariffs to 50%, and potential "powerful additional sanctions" against those guilty of "serious human rights abuses."
Go deeperArrowOct 14, 2019

Romney on Pence meeting with Turkey's Erdogan: "It's too late"

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) attacked President Trump's decision to send a delegation to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Turkey's invasion of Syria, telling NBC reporters on Wednesday that it's "too late for this kind of conversation."

"It's very hard to understand why it is the vice president and secretary of state and others are going to talk with Erdogan and Turkey... It's like the farmer who lost all his horses and goes to now shut the barn door."
Go deeperArrowOct 16, 2019

Pence announces Turkey has agreed to temporary ceasefire in Syria

Photo: Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Turkish Presidency via Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence announced from Ankara on Thursday that Turkey has agreed to cease its military operation in northern Syria for 120 hours so that Kurdish forces can withdraw from the area.

The big picture: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously said that he would "never" agree to a ceasefire, after the U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria paved the way for Turkey to begin a military assault on U.S-allied Kurdish forces that they view as terrorists.

Go deeperArrowOct 17, 2019