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President Donald Trump announced Monday that he will sign an executive order giving his administration the authority to impose sanctions on Turkish government officials over the country’s invasion of Syria.
The administration first mulled sanctions during a Friday press briefing with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
“President Trump … will be signing a new executive order giving the Treasury Department, in consultation with himself and Secretary Pompeo, very significant new sanctions authorities that can be targeted at any person associated with the government of Turkey,” Mnuchin told reporters.
The president released a statement Monday indicating that he will be signing the order, and also indicated that he is canceling negotiations with Turkey on a $100 billion trade deal. The administration is also re-raising steel tariffs to 50%.
“This Order will enable the United States to impose powerful additional sanctions on those who may be involved in serious human rights abuses, obstructing a ceasefire, preventing displaced persons from returning home, forcibly repatriating refugees, or threatening the peace, security, or stability in Syria,” Trump stated.
“The Order will authorize a broad range of consequences, including financial sanctions, the blocking of property, and barring entry into the United States.”
Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding Turkey’s Actions in Northeast Syria pic.twitter.com/ZCQC7nzmME
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2019
The pressure from the Trump administration is in response to Turkey’s invasion of Northern Syria and the country’s actions against Kurdish fighters in the region. Turkey moved into Syria after Trump announced that he was pulling U.S. troops from the area, a decision that has been criticized on both sides of the political aisle for allegedly leaving U.S. allies vulnerable to attack.
The president has defended his decision to pull troops from Syria, arguing that the U.S. should not be involved in an “endless war” between Turkey and the Kurds. Critics of the move, however, point out that the Kurds helped the U.S. defeat ISIS.
Trump previously warned Turkey that he would “wipe out” its economy if they destroyed the Kurdish population, and reiterated that sentiment in his statement Monday.
“The United States will aggressively use economic sanctions to target those who enable, facilitate, and finance these heinous acts in Syria. I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” he asserted.
In 2018, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Turkey for detaining American Pastor Andrew Brunson for two years, although those sanctions were lifted after his safe return.