Oct 10, 2019

Trump says he'll sanction Turkey "if they don't play by the rules" in Syria

President Trump tweeted Thursday that he'll sanction Turkey — and "hit [it] very hard financially" — if the country doesn't "play by the rules" in northern Syria.

Turkey has been planning to attack the Kurds for a long time. They have been fighting forever. We have no soldiers or Military anywhere near the attack area. I am trying to end the ENDLESS WARS. Talking to both sides. Some want us to send tens of thousands of soldiers to the area and start a new war all over again. Turkey is a member of NATO. Others say STAY OUT, let the Kurds fight their own battles (even with our financial help). I say hit Turkey very hard financially & with sanctions if they don’t play by the rules! I am watching closely.

Why it matters: While Trump's statement is similar to his threat to "obliterate" Turkey's economy from earlier this week, it's now clear that his red line in the region is not simply the start of a Turkish offensive against the Kurds.

  • However, his vagueness surrounding what might actually prompt action against Turkey is not likely to quell dissent among his fellow Republicans, who have been largely united in decrying his decision to withdraw from northern Syria.

Worth noting: Turkey is a NATO ally, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Trump will meet next month at the White House.

Go deeper: Syria decision exposes Trump to political peril

Go deeper

Civilians flee as Turkey advances against Kurds and into Syria


The Turkish offensive in Northern Syria that began on Wednesday after President Trump withdrew U.S. special forces from the border has claimed its first casualties and sent an estimated 60,000 civilians fleeing for safety.

The big picture: Turkey’s air and ground campaign is targeting Kurdish fighters who are central to the U.S. campaign to defeat the Islamic State, or ISIS, but viewed by NATO ally Turkey as elements of a terror group, the PKK.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019

Cornyn defends Trump despite Turkey's intent of ethnic cleansing

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Shortly after President Trump announced Wednesday he will lift sanctions against Turkey, Texas Sen. John Cornyn told reporters that withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria was warranted due to their safety and Turkey's intent on ethnic cleaning of the Kurds, the Dallas Morning News reports.

“If Turkey was planning on coming into northern Syria and trying to ethnically cleanse the Kurds, and U.S. troops were caught in the middle, I am not completely convinced that it was a bad idea to get them out of harm’s way."
Go deeperArrowOct 24, 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