A U.S. Senate committee backed legislation on Wednesday to impose sanctions on Turkey. It happened because of its offensive in Syria and purchase of a Russian S-400 missile system. By imposing sanctions, Congress is pushing President Donald Trump to take a harder line against Ankara. Tensions with Turkey are rising to boiling levels.
The Republican-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted by 18-4 to send the “Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act of 2019” for a vote in the full Senate.
Senator Jim Risch, the panel’s Republican chairman, a lead sponsor of the bill, said:
Now’s the time for the Senate to come together and take this opportunity to change Turkey’s behavior.
Senator Bob Menendez, the panel’s top Democrat, is also sponsoring the bill.
SOME SENATORS OPPOSE
Another Republican, Senator Rand Paul, opposed the act. He said it would weaken the president’s power and could make it more difficult to negotiate with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on matters such as the NATO ally’s purchase of the missile system and fighting in Syria.
They also criticized Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, which cleared the way for Turkey’s offensive in the area against Kurdish militias, who until recently were fighting alongside American forces against Islamic State militants.
This is not some minor dustup with this country. This is a drift by this country, Turkey, to go in an entirely different direction than what they have in the past. They’ve thumbed their nose at us, and they’ve thumbed their nose at their other NATO allies.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry described the latest initiatives in Congress as “a new manifestation of disrespect for our sovereign decisions regarding our national security.”
DID CONGRESS JUST DELIVER A NATO COUNTRY INTO PUTIN’S LAP?
He called on Congress to act with common sense:
These initiatives do not have any function other than to harm Turkish-U.S. relations.
Turkey, which has not wavered from its plans to buy the Russian system despite Erdogan’s recent visit to the White House, earlier vowed to retaliate against any U.S. sanctions over its purchase of the S-400 and said they would not affect its use of the Russian systems.
Turkey already hinted at barring the United States from using two major strategic air bases.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said:
It is understood that members of (the U.S.) Congress have shut their eyes and ears to the truth.
To become law, the legislation would have to pass the House of Representatives, which passed its own Turkish sanctions bill by an overwhelming 403-16 vote in October. Trump must also sign it.
Reuters contributed to this article.