Oct 15 2019

Trump's sanctions on Turkey leave U.S. lawmakers unsatisfied

The strength of U.S. President Donald Trump's sanctions package in response to the Turkish incursion into northeast Syria has let down U.S. lawmakers, Bloomberg said on Tuesday.

Trump announced sanctions on three Turkish ministers and two Turkish ministries late on Monday, halting trade negotiations with Turkey, doubling tariffs on imports of Turkish steel and warning that additional economic sanctions were coming.

"Experts on sanctions say the administration could have imposed restrictions last week if it had wished, and that Trump’s talk of future sanctions was more messaging to satisfy frustrated lawmakers who may have a veto-proof majority to pass legislation and force the president’s hand," Bloomberg said.

Draft bills introduced to the U.S. Congress include measures prohibiting U.S. arms exports to Turkey, as well as targeted sanctions for the country's banking, military and energy sectors.

“We appreciate the administration’s planned sanctions, but it does not go far enough to punish Turkey for its egregious offenses in Syria,” said Kaylin Minton, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Trump threatened Turkey with punitive measures for its offensive after giving the green light to the operation three days before it was launched.

However, the sanctions announced on Monday did not match Trump's threats to devastate Turkey’s economy, as the United States only targeted the relatively small-scale Turkish steel imports and trade negotiations that include the furniture, marble, autos and civil aviation industries, Bloomberg said.

The sanctions were “hardly crippling, Erdogan called Trump’s bluff,” Bloomberg quoted Brian O’Toole, a former Treasury official who worked on sanctions, as saying.

Meanwhile, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Turkey to demand a ceasefire rather than asking for full withdrawal from northeast Syria would allow Ankara to retain the territory it took control of with the recent offensive, the news site said.

“There is still a definite reluctance to escalate pressure on a NATO ally,” Bloomberg quoted Michael Greenwald, a former U.S. Treasury official, as saying.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-15/trump-restraint-on-turkey-sanctions-leaves-congress-wanting-more