Turkey sanctions a page out of failed foreign policy playbook – U.S. Congresswoman

While it is necessary to hold Turkey accountable for its Syria offensive, Washington’s push for harsh sanctions in response to the operation, a knee-jerk reaction from a failed foreign policy playbook, will not yield desired results, wrote U.S. congresswoman Ilhan Omar, in an article published in the Washington Post on Wednesday.

The U.S. Congress has condemned Turkey’s military operation into northeast Syria, since the Kurdish forces targeted in the offensive have played a key role in the U.S.-backed fight against Islamic State (ISIS). Three bills have been introduced to Congress recommending tough sanctions on Turkish institutions and officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The move by both Republicans and Democrats to pursue harsh sanctions against Turkey is an echo of the failed U.S. strategy of “maximum pressure” on Iran and Venezuela, Omar wrote.

And just as with those two countries, the congresswoman said, it would result in a humanitarian and geopolitical disaster.

Pointing to research which has shown that sanctions often fail to achieve their desired goals, Omar said the measures generally the very people the country issuing them claims to help.

Research also suggests that more abuses occur with economic sanctions in place than without them.

The U.S. congresswoman underlined sanctions put in place by the administration of Donald Trump against Iran, which have ‘’devastated that country’s middle class and increased hostility toward the United States,’’ in addition to strengthening the Tehran regime’s credibility at home.

And in Venezuela, the Trump administration’s desire to squeeze Nicolás Maduro out of power through increasingly sweeping sanctions only led Washington to ‘’find itself involved in an intractable crisis that risks descending into civil war.’’

U.S. sanctions have essentially handed Maduro a propaganda victory, as he can now. He shift blame to the United States, while retaining his grip on power, Omar said. 

It is time for U.S. foreign policy that is rooted in the experiences of people directly affected by crises, the article said, calling on lawmakers to question their ‘’near-automatic reliance on sanctions’’.