US House Committee gives green light to Turkey sanctions

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives approved legislation on to impose sanctions on Turkey aimed at ending its military operations in northeastern Syria.

House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney announced the sanctions, which included a ban on US military assistance to its NATO ally.

The ban would separately apply to anyone providing financial, material or technological support to or knowingly conducting a transaction with Turkey’s armed forces, including defense articles, petroleum, and natural gas.

The House sanctions will apply to US assets of Turkish officials, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, vice president, and ministers of defense, foreign affairs, treasury, trade, and energy, also mandating a report from Trump on Erdogan’s net worth.

The sanctions of the House, deemed tougher than the administration’s, also foresees a ban on entry to the US for ministers of defense and economy, and the chief of staff, as well as the preparation of a report on Erdogan’s financial assets, including those of his close family members in the US.

On Wednesday, Erdogan lashed out at the US House for its bill move, referring to the parts of the bill regarding visa restrictions.

“The countries which introduced bans against us on entry should think about their decisions. Think about that they impose a visa ban on me, my family members and my ministers. What does that mean? What happens if we do not go [there]? Will we go down [when we do not go to those countries]? Are we keen on [going there that much],” Erdogan said.

This bill also extends the sanctions placed through Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on Turkey in reaction to its purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-missile defense system.

Following the House committee approval, the bill is now put on a calendar to be voted on, debated or amended in the House. However, there is no word from the House on when to discuss the bill yet.

If the bill passes by a simple majority, 218 out of 435, it will move to the US Senate, the upper chamber which, together with the US House, makes up the US Congress. Again, if a simple majority, 51 out of 100, passes the bill in the Senate, the resulting bill will go to Trump who will have 10 days to sign or veto the enrolled bill.

If the US president signs the bill, it will be enacted into law. If not, meaning a “veto”, the president’s objections shall be considered by the Congress. Then a two-thirds majority of each house will be required to override the president’s veto, and to enact the bill into law.

The bipartisan bill, which is introduced with the efforts of Republican senator Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chris van Hollen, came after bipartisan criticism over Trump’s withdrawal decision which the critics say betrayed Kurdish allies and benefited Russia, Iran, the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad and the remnants of the Islamic State (ISIS) in the region.

On Monday, Trump signed an executive order imposing new sanctions on Turkish officials, hiking tariffs on Turkish steel imports and halting trade negotiations between the two NATO allies, with many US politicians saying the US response must go even further.

“President Trump has unleashed an escalation of chaos and insecurity in Syria. His announcement of a package of sanctions against Turkey falls very short of reversing that humanitarian disaster,” the House speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Markets did not take the US administration’s sanctions seriously as they are far from doing serious damage to Turkey’s economy which is still recovering from a recession and currency collapse. The Turkish lira rose on Tuesday after the administration announced its measures.

Nearly 60 percent of Turkey’s weapons are imported from the US, followed by Spain and Italy.

The country, the world’s 13th biggest arms importer, operates US-made 333 fighter aircraft, 2,400 tanks, and 31 transport aircraft, according to the Center for International Policy.

Turkey had been a key member of a US-led consortium producing F-35 stealth fighter jets until its exclusion from the program due to its purchase of the Russian S-400 system.

Turkey launched an assault on October 9 after US President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing the US troops from Syria.

Besides “safe zone” formation in the region in an attempt to resettle millions of Syrians living currently in Turkey, Ankara also aims to remove the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters from the border areas.

Turkey regards the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a separatist armed group inside the country.

US imposes sanctions on Turkish ministries, officials over Syria incursion

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