Senator Shaheen Denounces Trump Administration’s Actions on Turkey & Syria, Helps Introduce Bipartisan Bill Sanctioning Turkey

October 17, 2019

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today introduced a bipartisan bill to levy immediate, serious sanctions against Turkey following its invasion of Syria and their slaughter of the Kurdish people, with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and a bipartisan group of Senators. The bill comes as the Trump administration announced a so-called “ceasefire” in Syria that is contingent upon Kurds retreating from the land that Turkey has been attacking since President Trump ordered the precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The bipartisan legislation introduced today would apply new sanctions to senior Turkish officials, including President Erdogan, key Turkish banks, military transactions, and their energy sector activities in support of the Turkish Armed Forces. It would require the U.S. Treasury to move forward with delayed sanctions under CAATSA over Turkey’s decision to obtain the S-400 Russian missile defense system. It also would prohibit U.S. military assistance to Turkey, bar President Erdogan and Turkish leadership from visiting the United States, and require reports on the net worth and assets of Mr. Erdogan amid concerns of corruption. Finally, in the wake of an ISIS resurgence in Syria, it demands a strategy from the Administration to defeat them and stabilize the region. 

The bill’s sanctions will remain in place until the administration certifies to Congress that Turkey has halted attacks against the Syrian Kurdish community, has withdrawn from all locations that they didn’t occupy prior to the October 9, 2019 invasion, and is not hindering counterterrorism operations against ISIS. 

“President Trump made a grave strategic error by agreeing to President Erdogan’s demands to withdraw U.S. troops. Both leaders must now hear an unequivocal message of opposition to the incursion that was enabled by this decision and understand that there will be consequences for the brutality we’re seeing in the region,” said Shaheen. “While we can’t reverse the damage done, Congress can work to end this offensive by making it known that it is not just President Trump that speaks for U.S. foreign policy. This bill is meant to send a resounding message that Erdogan’s actions in Syria are unacceptable.” 

In 2018, Senator Shaheen travelled with Senator Lindsey Graham to Turkey to meet with President Erdogan, and Northeastern Syria where she met with Kurdish leadership holding thousands of ISIS prisoners. Senators Shaheen and Graham discussed their trip with 60 Minutes.

Shaheen established the Syria Study Group which was signed into law in 2018. The Syria Study Group released its final report with recommendations for U.S. policy on September 26th.