Tuesday, October 15, 2019

U.S. Imposes Penalties on Turkey, Aiming to Stop Incursion Into Syria

Photo: khalil ashawi/Reuters
President Trump threatens more-powerful financial penalties if Ankara doesn’t cease military campaign against Kurdish militias
President Trump authorized sanctions and raised steel tariffs on Turkey, while threatening more-powerful financial penalties if Ankara continued a military offensive in northern Syria launched after Mr. Trump decided to withdraw U.S. troops from the region.
The administration’s first punitive actions against Turkey came amid widespread criticism on Capitol Hill that Mr. Trump’s decision left Kurdish militias that had aided the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State open to attack. Meanwhile, Democratic and Republican lawmakers said they plan to speed through their own sanctions package starting on Tuesday.
“I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” Mr. Trump said on Monday. “Unfortunately, Turkey does not appear to be mitigating the humanitarian effects of its invasion.”
Mr. Trump also spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and called on him to stop the invasion and negotiate an end to the violence, Vice President Mike Pence said late Monday. Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Erdogan very strongly for a cease-fire, Mr. Pence said, adding that Mr. Trump is “very concerned about instability” in the region and loss of lives.
Mr. Pence and national-security adviser Robert O’Brien plan to lead a delegation to Turkey to seek a resolution to the conflict.
Syrian military convoys moved on Monday into towns along the northern border with Turkey, emboldened by a newly forged accord with Kurdish authorities. Syrian soldiers raised the national flag in Ain Eissa, a town north of Raqqa—Islamic State’s former de facto capital—where thousands of U.S.-backed fighters had trained at a military base. 
The administration has signaled that the U.S. could start with sanctions that don’t inflict much damage, but could then be ramped up to a level that would cripple the Turkish economy, including severing access to U.S. markets.
Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News
“The sanctions are ready when the president wants to move forward on them,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on CNBC earlier Monday, a day after he said the administration could levy its harshest tool: shutting all U.S.-dollar transactions with the Turkish government, as the U.S. has done with Iran and Venezuela, among others.
The sanctions the U.S. Treasury imposed on Monday target Turkey’s Defense, Interior and Energy ministers and their departments. The U.S. warned that any person or business doing business with them risked also being blacklisted, including banks losing access to dollar markets. Mr. Trump also said that the U.S. would raise the tariff rate on steel imported from Turkey to 50%, after lowering the rate from that level back in May.
Read the rest from the WSJ HERE,

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