October 17, 2019

Van Hollen, Graham Introduce Turkish Sanctions Legislation

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced the Countering Turkish Aggression Act of 2019, which would levy immediate, serious sanctions against Turkey following their invasion of northeastern Syria and their slaughter of the Kurdish people.

The legislation 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until the Administration certifies to Congress that Turkey has halted attacks against the Syrian Kurdish community, has withdrawn from all locations that they didn’t occupy prior to the October 9, 2019 invasion, and is not hindering counterterrorism operations against ISIS.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’s disastrous policy in Syria has paved the way for the slaughter of our Kurdish allies, facilitated the escape of hundreds of ISIS supporters, and emboldened adversaries like Al Qaeda, Iran, and Russia. This isn’t a political fight – this is about the countless people who are being slaughtered and the revival of ISIS. That is why we have come together on a bipartisan basis to act quickly,” said Senator Van Hollen. “While we work to pass the House resolution condemning these actions, we must move forward on these sanctions and apply real pressure to Turkey to end this madness.”

“At a time when the United States needs to speak with a clear voice regarding Turkey’s invasion into northeastern Syria, this bipartisan sanctions bill is that clear voice,” said Senator Graham. “Our legislation builds upon the Administrations’ efforts to sanction Turkey and goes further in important areas like prohibiting military assistance and transactions to the Turkish Armed Forces as well as mandates sanctions due to the S-400 purchases.  Erdogan’s invasion of northeastern Syria has created the conditions for the reemergence of ISIS and the destruction of our allies.  These outcomes must not only be addressed by the Administration but by Congress as well.” 

In addition to Senators Van Hollen and Graham, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

To read a section-by-section summary, click here. To read the full bill text, click here.