Shaheen & Hassan Cosponsor Bipartisan, Comprehensive Syria-Turkey LegislationOctober 30, 2019
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, announced with Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH)—a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee—their support for new, bipartisan legislation in response to the U.S. withdrawal and Turkey’s subsequent military incursion into northern Syria. The legislation is led by Senators Jim Risch (R-ID) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, respectively.
The bipartisan legislation would require the administration to produce a strategy to defend our hard-won gains against ISIS and prevent a resurgence in Syria and Iraq, authorize humanitarian assistance for Syrian civilians, restrict arm sales to Turkey, and impose new biting sanctions against Turkey and Russia. The legislation further includes a Shaheen provision creating a new ISIS detainee coordinator position, which Senator Shaheen has long advocated for.
“This month alone, President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Northeast Syria resulted in the deaths of hundreds of our Kurdish partners, the escape of over one hundred ISIS detainees and the return of Russian and Syrian regime troops to a region hard-fought for and secured by the United States,” said Senator Shaheen. “While Congress cannot undo the harm caused by the President’s decision, we can take action to mitigate the damage. This bipartisan bill would send an unequivocal message to Turkish President Erdogan that there will be consequences for his actions against our Kurdish partners, and it will force the administration to produce a strategy to prevent a resurgence of ISIS. The President is not the only voice for American foreign policy and this bill is a bipartisan call from Congress to stand with our Kurdish partners and defend the progress we made in the region together.”
“When I was in Afghanistan earlier this month, I heard directly from service members and civilian leaders who continue to be deeply concerned about the presence of ISIS and ISIS affiliates in the region, and now due to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria as well as Turkey’s incursion into the country, the threat of ISIS is even more urgent,” said Senator Hassan. “Even with the loss of ISIS’s caliphate and the killing of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, we cannot become complacent in our efforts to eradicate this terrorist organization. I am proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in supporting this bill to place sanctions on Turkey for slaughtering innocent civilians and Kurdish troops, and create a comprehensive plan to combat ISIS.”
Key provisions of the senators’ legislation include:
- Requires a comprehensive strategy to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS, including plans for ISIS detainees and humanitarian assistance. Strategy includes required reports on Russian and Iranian influence in Syria, and the ability of ISIS to reconstitute, among other reports.
Humanitarian Assistance and Protection:
- Required report on Turkish incursion into Syria, and conditions of humanitarian access, assistance and civilian protection
- Authorization of humanitarian assistance for Syrian civilians
- Report on potential Turkish war crimes during the Syrian incursion
Sanctions and Arms Prohibition for Turkey:
- Restrictions on arms sales to Turkey for Syria
- Sanctions against senior Turkish officials
- Sanctions against persons providing arms to Turkish forces in Syria
- Directs president to oppose loans to Turkey from international finance institutions
- Report on Turkey’s participation in NATO
Sanctions Against Russia for Malign Behavior in Syria:
- Sanctions with respect to Russian support for Assad
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. 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.
Senator Shaheen has worked closely with the family of James Foley, an American journalist and Granite Stater who was murdered by ISIS jihadists. Shaheen has fought to ensure that ISIS terrorists culpable in Foley’s murder, as well as other U.S. citizens, are brought to trial in the United States. Earlier this year, Senator Shaheen authored an editorial in the Washington Post with Diane Foley—James Foley’s mother and the President of the James W. Foley Foundation— addressing the critical issue of ISIS terrorists detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces in Northeastern Syria.
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