Senators urge 'tough economic sanctions' if Turkey violated ceasefire

Senators urge 'tough economic sanctions' if Turkey violated ceasefire
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of senators is pushing Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo promotes economic ties, takes aim at corruption in Africa visit Russian foreign minister says he sensed 'more constructive' approach after meeting with Pompeo Donald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim MORE on reports of Turkish violations of a ceasefire in northern Syria, urging the administration to respond with “tough economic sanctions.”

“On several occasions, President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE has threatened to ‘destroy Turkey’s economy’ should Turkey violate its obligations,” the senators wrote in a letter to Pompeo on Wednesday. “In keeping with this position, we ask that the Administration take swift measures to enforce the October 17 agreement with tough economic sanctions. In the meantime, we will continue to work in Congress on the passage of a bipartisan sanctions bill to protect our allies and uphold the credibility of the United States.”


The letter was organized by Sens. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign Senate Democrats introduce legislation to change impeachment trial rules Warren asks for probe of whether Trump violated law by delaying Puerto Rico funds MORE (D-Md) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony US defense chief says Taliban deal 'looks very promising' but not without risk Lawmakers wary as US on cusp of initial deal with Taliban MORE (R-S.C.) and was co-signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnAbortion wars flare up in Congress Hillicon Valley: Judge approves T-Mobile, Sprint merger | FTC to review past Big Tech deals | State officials ask for more cybersecurity help | House nears draft bill on self-driving cars Senate GOP blocks three election security bills MORE (R-Tenn.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Senate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Trump under pressure to renew last nuke treaty with Russia MORE (D-N.H.).

The same group sponsored one of the Turkey sanctions bills that have been introduced in the Senate in response to Turkey’s offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces.

The House last week passed a Turkey sanctions bill by a large bipartisan majority. Van Hollen and Graham have both said they would support bringing the House bill for a vote in the Senate, but efforts at Turkey sanctions in the upper chamber have stalled amid warnings from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Trump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (R-Ky.) against rushing to sanction a NATO ally.

Trump had imposed sanctions on Turkey after its offensive but lifted them as part of a ceasefire agreement brokered by Vice President Pence.

In their letter, the senators cite reports of Turkey or Turkish-backed forces attacking Kurdish forces near Tal Tamr, which is outside the agreed-upon safe zone.

“If true, these attacks would violate the separate ceasefire agreements Ankara forged with both Washington and Moscow,” they wrote. 

The senators asked Pompeo to “immediately” answer whether Turkey or its proxy forces are operating outside of the safe zone and whether the administration will impose sanctions on Turkey for violating the agreement.