US House Republicans to introduce Turkey sanctions measure

Separately, the House plans to vote on a measure opposing Trump's decision to withdraw troops from northeast Syria.

    House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney speaking at a news conference on Capitol Hill [File:Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters]
    House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney speaking at a news conference on Capitol Hill [File:Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters]

    Republicans in the US House of Representatives plan to introduce legislation that will impose sanctions on Turkey in response to Ankara's operation in northeast Syria, Representative Liz Cheney told reporters on Wednesday. 

    Even though Republicans do not control the chamber, the measure has a good chance of passing, with members of both parties condemning the swift eruption of violence from Turkey, a NATO ally.

    The measure underscores an overwhelming bipartisan consensus against US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw American troops from northeast Syria. 

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    Trump's decision has come under sharp criticism from members of Congress, including from many in his Republican Party, who view the withdrawal as an abandonment of Kurdish forces. 

    Many have argued that the move has damaged US interests in the region and helped adversaries, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISI), Russia and Iran.

    Turkey launched an operation against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria following Trump's decision. The Kurds were the top US ally in the fight against ISIL in the region. 

    Appearing to respond to the criticism earlier this week, Trump announced sanctions on certain Turkish officials, ratcheted up tariffs on the country's steel imports and suspended a major trade deal, but many politicians say the US response must go even further.

    "We have always maintained that, while certainly needed, a sanctions package alone is insufficient for reversing this humanitarian disaster," House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement on Tuesday. 

    The Democratic leaders were announcing plans for a House vote on Wednesday on a separate nonbinding resolution opposing Trump's withdrawal. That measure is expected to pass. 

    That measure says Turkey should halt military actions in Syria and says the US should send humanitarian aid to the embattled Kurds.

    It also calls on Trump to produce "a clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat" of ISIL.

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    An identical bipartisan measure is being introduced in the Senate.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a reminder on Tuesday that a veto-proof majority of 70 senators voted earlier this year against a troop withdrawal from Syria. He suggested Trump's move allowed Turkey to launch operations in northeast Syria, "creating a power vacuum begging for the meddling influence of Russia", and leaving Syria open for Iran to advance its reach "unimpeded" towards Israel.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies