US Congress Senators Democrat Chris Van Hollen and Republican Lindsay Graham have announced work on a sanctions bill against Turkey. His goal is to punish Ankara for the military operation "Source of Peace" in northern Syria against the "Syrian Democratic Forces" (SDS), which includes Kurdish forces that Turkey considers terrorist.
However, the sanctions provided for in the bill are designed not only to protect Washington’s Kurdish allies, but also to prevent the deepening of military-technical cooperation between Moscow and Ankara and be a response to Turkey’s supply of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems.
The document presumes that Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 is a violation of the CAATSA law (“On Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions.” - RT ) and imposing appropriate sanctions.
The initiators of the bill offer to identify and arrest the assets of the Turkish leadership in the United States, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In addition, senators consider it necessary to impose sanctions against companies, including foreign ones, which are doing business with the Turkish army.
“These sanctions will have immediate, long-lasting consequences for Erdogan and the armed forces of his country,” Chris Van Hollen wrote on his Twitter.
Today @LindseyGrahamSC and I are announcing a framework for sanctions against Turkey to respond to their military operation in northeastern Syria, which is already underway. These sanctions will have immediate, far-reaching consequences for Erdogan and his military. pic.twitter.com/VhzaDB2OYU- Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) October 9, 2019
At the same time, both authors of the bill strongly condemn the withdrawal of American troops from northeast Syria on the eve of the Turkish military operation there and the US refusal to support the SDS. They fear that Turkey, taking advantage of Washington's connivance, will destroy Kurdish militias.
“Trump likes to say that he defeated ISIS *. Not true. These are our troops, in cooperation with the Syrian Kurds, have made significant progress, but we still have much to do. ISIS celebrates Trump’s betrayal, ”writes Van Hollen.
Lindsay Graham, in turn, declared support for the SDS in its conflict with Turkey and directly accused the American president that his actions played into the hands of extremists.
“Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump administration. This step guarantees the revival of ISIS, ”the senator said and urged the president to“ change course while there is time. ”
It is worth noting that Graham is one of the most consistent critics of the current American leader. He actively opposed the nomination of Trump as a candidate from the Republican Party in the 2016 presidential election. And now Graham has a negative attitude towards the policy of the head of state.
According to Van Hollen, the bill will be introduced in the near future.
“We will ask you to immediately vote on it in order to make clear to Turkey that it should stop military operations and henceforth refrain from them, withdraw the military contingent from the combat zone and put an end to the tragic loss of human lives,” the senator emphasized.
The fate of the bill
Experts note that the legislative initiative of Graham and Van Hollen reflects the sentiments that are widespread among congressmen from both the Republican and the Democratic Party of the United States. Trump's foreign policy is actively criticized, and his decision not to impede the Turkish operation in the Kurdish regions of Syria causes serious discontent among those and others, said Yuri Rogulev, director of the Franklin Roosevelt United States Study Foundation at Moscow State University, in an interview with RT.
- Senator Chris Van Hollen
- © Joshua Roberts / Reuters
“One of the houses of Congress may well approve the bill of Graham and Van Hollen. Democrats will vote in favor to annoy Trump and present him in the eyes of voters as an incompetent leader who betrays the allies and does not keep his word. Republicans - to correct, as many of them think, Trump’s wrong foreign policy. Everything can be. Still, next year's presidential election, and the political struggle escalates. But you should not forget that the adoption of the law requires the consent of not one, but two houses, ”the expert recalled.
Nevertheless, according to Rogulev, congressmen will “think twice” before actually imposing sanctions on Turkey.
“This country is too important. Turkey has the largest combat-ready army in NATO after the United States. She has military bases that are used by the United States. I think that with all the frictions, Washington will not risk allied relations with Ankara, ”Rogulev believes.
The expert suggested that the adoption of the bill was simply delayed, and then, when the operation "Source of Peace" is over, it will lose relevance and will be forgotten.
However, even if the bill is passed, and it happens quickly enough, it is unlikely that it will achieve its stated goals, analysts say.
Senior researcher at the Center for Euro-Atlantic Security, Yulia Kudryashova, is confident that Turkey will not abandon the operation against the Kurds, even if faced with Washington's pressure.
“But at the same time it is clear that this operation will be limited. In addition to the United States, there are also Russia and Iran in Syria, not to mention the European members of NATO. Turkey has to act with an eye on all these key players for the situation in the region. Ankara will try not to annoy them, so the "Source of Peace" will be quite formal. A series of blows will be delivered to the SDS, but, of course, there can be no talk of completely eliminating this formation, ”the expert predicts in an interview with RT.
The tactics of pinpoint strikes in Kurdish regions are fully consistent with Turkey’s long-term interests in Syria, Kudryashova said. According to the expert, the main goal of Ankara is not to destroy the SDS, but to destabilize the Kurdish regions and create the feeling that they are in constant danger. So Erdogan seeks to prevent the creation of Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria.
“This is the main goal of Turkey. Ankara fears that the emergence of Kurdish autonomy in Syria will strengthen separatist sentiments among Turkish Kurds, ”the expert believes.
S-400 contracts will not be disrupted
At the same time, according to Kudryashova, US senators will not be able to interfere with Russian-Turkish cooperation.
“With the help of sanctions, the Americans, of course, could try to disrupt the S-400 deal. But the supply of these anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey has already begun. Of course, the United States can punish Ankara “post factum,” but what is the point of such a punishment? Turkey will not refuse from the S-400, ”Kudryashova said.
- Donald Trump and Recep Erdogan
- © Tatyana Zenkovich / Pool via REUTERS
The introduction of restrictive measures against Turkey for cooperation with Russia may lead to a paradoxical result for Graham and Van Hollen: Moscow and Ankara, on the contrary, will become even closer, analysts say.
Rogulev draws attention to the fact that Recep Tayyip Erdogan will arrive in the United States on November 13 - negotiations with Trump are coming, including regarding the purchase of American F-35 aircraft.
"The adoption of the sanctions law before this visit, of course, would set the American president and change the whole nature of the negotiations," Rogulev believes.
If the legislative initiative of Graham and Van Hollen is approved, the Turkish president will face an unusual situation, Kudryashova said.
“Erdogan remembers that Trump has repeatedly threatened Turkey with sanctions both for its actions in Syria, and for its relations with Russia, and for its position on the S-400. But only threatened. In fact, Trump was looking for some opportunities to bring Turkey back into the mainstream of cooperation with the United States. If the USA really imposes sanctions, Erdogan will have to answer, ”the expert says.
Kudryashova believes that the Turkish president, given his character, will never begin to change his policy and will not succumb to pressure. But economic cooperation with the United States due to sanctions will have to be largely curtailed.
“But Turkey needs partners for joint projects, foreign investment is needed. Where to turn for them if the USA turns its back on Ankara? Only to Russia and China, ”Kudryashova concluded.
“Islamic State” (IG) - the organization was recognized as terrorist by a decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of December 29, 2014.