Ilhan Tanir
Oct 12 2019

U.S. House Foreign Affairs Comm. leaders introduce new sanctions bill against Turkey over Syria incursion

Influential United States House Foreign affairs Committee leaders Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) announced on Friday evening that they will introduce a new sanctions bill on Turkey over Ankara's current military operation in northeast Syria. 

Turkey on Oct. 9 launched a military operation dubbed "Operation Peace Spring" targeting Kurdish militia, which control parts of northern Syria.

There is already one sanction package in the U.S. Senate and two in the House, which are under discussion. Two of the three sanction bills have been introduced.

The new sanction package introduced by Engel and McCaul calls for sanctioning of Turkish officials involved in the Syria operation and banks involved in the defence sector until Turkey ends the incursion.

The bill also calls for the U.S. administration to sanction Turkey for its Russian S-400 missile system purchase. Additionally, it would prohibit U.S. arms exports to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) conducting operations in Syria and would prohibit the use of the emergency provision in the Arms Export Control Act for Turkey.

The bill specifically references the Turkish Defence Minister, the Chief of General Staff, the commander of the 2nd Army of the TSK, who is overseeing the operation, and the Minister of Treasury and Finance,  Berat Albayrak, who is also President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law. 

The bill stipulates that the U.S. authorities should submit the names of Turkish officials involved in the decision to invade Syria, "not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of the Act".

The bill foresees targeted financial sanction for Halk Bank, the largest publicly owned Turkish bank, no later than 15 days of the date of enactment of the Act.

The act, just like the one revised by Senators Graham and Van Hollen, also requires a report on net worth of President Erdoğan not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment.

"The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the estimated net worth and known sources of income of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo ̆gan and his family members (including spouses, children, parents, and siblings), including assets, investments, other business interests, and relevant beneficial ownership information," it says.

According to Washington sources, the bill at the Senate is currently being revised before Tuesday when the Congress returning from a recess. 

Senior U.S. military and civilian officials have sought to assure the U.S. public and media that U.S. has not abandoned the Kurds, who were partners on the ground to beat back the Islamic State (ISIS) militias.

Former U.S. officials and Congressional members as well as the U.S. media appeared unmoved thus far.

Senator Graham has called the explanation provided by the White House for the withdrawal "the biggest lie told by this administration," urging Trump to "reverse course" from the decision.  

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.