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 PompeoSondland brings impeachment inquiry to White House doorstep Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Senate eyes sending stopgap spending bill back to House | Sondland delivers bombshell impeachment testimony | Pentagon deputy says he didn't try to block official's testimony Five bombshells from explosive Sondland testimony 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 TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate 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.”

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The letter was organized by Sens. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenHillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to 'look at' Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills Democrats raise privacy concerns over Amazon home security system Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (D-Md) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: Report on alleged surveillance abuse in 2016 to be released Dec. 9 McConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Hillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack MORE (R-S.C.) and was co-signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTrump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition Progressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising On The Money: US paid record .1B in tariffs in September | Dems ramp up oversight of 'opportunity zones' | Judge hints at letting House lawsuit over Trump tax returns proceed MORE (R-Tenn.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenProgressive group to spend as much as M to turn out young voters On The Money: US paid record .1B in tariffs in September | Dems ramp up oversight of 'opportunity zones' | Judge hints at letting House lawsuit over Trump tax returns proceed Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows 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 McConnellOvernight Health Care: Fireworks on health care expected at Dem debate | Trump FDA pick dodges on vaping ban | Trump to host meeting on youth vaping Friday | AMA calls for immediate vaping ban GOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act On The Money: Senate scraps plan to force second shutdown vote | Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny | McConnell rips House Dems for holding up trade deal 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.