Democratic lawmaker: Expelling Turkey from NATO 'should be on the table'

Democratic lawmaker: Expelling Turkey from NATO 'should be on the table'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellKey House chairman cautions against remote voting, suggests other options amid coronavirus outbreak House Democrats plead with key committee chairman to allow remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Congress tiptoes toward remote voting MORE (D-Calif.) said expelling Turkey from NATO over its offensive in northeastern Syria “should be on the table.”


“I think it should be on the table, absolutely it should be on the table,” Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday on CNN.

He said Turkey has been an ally to the United States, but "I don’t think they’re an ally today."

He then continued to say that this could change if they "get rid of their corrupt practices and come back into the value set that NATO countries have.”

Ankara has sparked a firestorm in Washington over its operations in Syria, which target Kurdish fighters it claims are linked to an anti-Turkish insurgency. Bipartisan lawmakers have panned the operation as threatening to groups that allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS. 

Trump said in a statement Monday he is slapping sanctions on government officials in Ankara and “any persons contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeast Syria.”

The sanctions targeted the Turkish Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Energy and National Resources, as well as the leaders of those two agencies and the head of the Ministry of the Interior. 

The sanctions include an increase on steel tariffs from 25 percent to 50 percent and a halt in trade negotiations with Turkey. 

“Turkey’s military offensive is endangering civilians and threatening peace, security, and stability in the region,” Trump said. “I have been perfectly clear with President Erdogan: Turkey’s action is precipitating a humanitarian crisis and setting conditions for possible war crimes.” 

Some critics of the sanctions said they were insufficient, with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike MORE (D-Calif.) saying the package "falls very short of reversing that humanitarian disaster."

“Yes, they do,” Swalwell responded when asked by CNN host Jim Sciutto if sanctions have a chance of working. “Turkey, as you know, Jim, is also a NATO ally, and I don’t think they want to be kicked out of NATO, which is also something that I think may be on the table here. And so we should in a bipartisan way seek to do that to change Turkey’s behavior.”

Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, which removed the chief deterrent to Turkey’s operation, was also the focus of bipartisan ire on Capitol Hill, with many saying it paved the way for the offensive.

The Pentagon on Monday announced the official withdrawal of U.S. forces from northeastern Syria, adding that "a small footprint" of U.S. forces will remain at the al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria "to continue to disrupt remnants of ISIS."