- The Washington Times - Monday, October 14, 2019

President Trump signaled Monday that “big sanctions” will hit Turkey in response to the NATO ally’s decision to bombard U.S.-allied Kurds in northern Syria.

A key GOP ally, Sen. Lindsey Graham, followed up by saying Congress is looking at bipartisan ways to inflict economic pain on Ankara.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “supports bipartisan sanctions against Turkey’s outrages in Syria,” Mr. Graham tweeted. “She also believes we should show support for Kurdish allies and is concerned about the reemergence of ISIS.”

Mrs. Pelosi affirmed her support for sanctions but said the “first order of business” should be a joint resolution overturning Mr. Trump’s strategy on the Turkish-Syrian border.

Mr. Trump is taking heat from Republican allies over his decision to withdraw troops from the region, though his defense officials say Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was intent on routing longterm Kurdish rivals he views as terrorists.

The president decided it was best to move American troops out of the way, saying they no longer have a stake in the fight. He wants to impose economic punishment instead of launching bombs.

“Big sanctions on Turkey coming! Do people really think we should go to war with NATO Member Turkey? Never ending wars will end!” Mr. Trump tweeted in response to critics who say he betrayed the Kurds, a core ally in routing the Islamic State.

Mr. Graham has criticized Mr. Trump’s overall strategy but is aligning himself with the White House on sanctions, while gathering Democratic buy-in.

“I will be working across party lines in a bicameral fashion to draft sanctions and move quickly, appreciating President Trump’s willingness to work with the Congress,” he tweeted. “The speaker indicated to me that time was of the essence.”

Already, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin has prepared orders that authorize sanctions on any portion of the Turkish government or affiliates of the government.

Speaking on CNBC, Mr. Mnuchin said he received updates on Syria from the Situation Room over the weekend and will receive another briefing Monday.

“This is obviously an evolving situation. It is complicated, we are monitoring it daily,” he said.

Mr. Mnuchin said the sanctions will be ready to go, if and when Mr. Trump gives the go-ahead.

Democrats say the White House isn’t going far enough.

“As we find ourselves in a situation where the president gave a green light to the Turks to bomb and effectively unleashed ISIS, we must have a stronger sanctions package than what the White House is suggesting,” Mrs. Pelosi wrote on Twitter.

Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, went further, writing: “Spare me the nonsense on sanctions. People are being slaughtered RIGHT NOW. Bombs are dropping on children RIGHT NOW. Instead of drafting sanctions bills, Republicans should use their massive leverage over the President to get him to change course. RIGHT NOW.”

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