Turkey sanctions facing hurdle in GOP Senate - The Hill

U.S. lawmakers’ efforts to swiftly slap new sanctions opposing President Donald Trump's strategy in Syria and Turkey over its offensive targeting Kurdish forces in the country is hitting a hurdle in the Senate, the Hill reported on Monday.

Despite widespread opposition to Trump’s decision to pull back U.S. troops, which paved the way for a Turkish military operation, the Hill said, there’s little sign that the Senate will be able to move efficiently.

The U.S. president has come under wide criticism for abruptly declaring that U.S. troops would step aside for an expected Turkish attack on the Kurds.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning Trump’s decision to pull troops back from northern Syria.

However, divisions within the caucus concerning potential legislation have been complicating the chance of any bill getting through the GOP-controlled chamber, the Hill said.

The administration agreed to not apply additional sanctions against Turkey during a five-day cease-fire during which Kurdish fighters are to evacuate the region.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and other Kurdish-led groups viewed by Ankara as a security threat will withdraw from a 32-km safe zone south of Turkey’s border during the ceasefire, which arrived on day nine of the offensive.

U.S. lawmakers are vowing to push forward with legislation, regardless of the outcome of the ceasefire, which ends on Tuesday, the Hill said.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been a vocal critic of Trump’s Syria strategy and Turkey, said he would continue “to go forward on getting co-sponsors”. 

Another Republican Senator, Jim Risch, along with Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, has introduced his own bill, which would restrict arms sales to Turkey and sanction Turkish officials and authorise humanitarian assistance for Syrian civilians. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, despite his public criticism, has not committed to bringing either sanctions legislation or the House-passed resolution up for a vote on the Senate floor, the Hill said.

The Senate Majority leader did however, last week say he wanted “something stronger” than the House-passed resolution, hinting at a potential additional legislation.

Meanwhile Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer tried to get a vote on the House resolution on Thursday but was blocked by Sen. Rand Paul, the Hill said.