Senate Foreign Relations Committee passes Turkey sanctions bill despite Sen. Paul’s objection


Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday passed a bill that foresees imposing sanctions on Turkey after the vote was delayed due to objection by Republican Senator Rand Paul.

The committee was forced to postpone the vote to advance Turkey sanctions to the full chamber after senator Paul voted against the move. However, the Republican senator’s hold was overcome later and the bill, called Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act, was passed.

Committee members voted in favour of the resolution 18-4 to send the bipartisan measure to full Senate. Together with Paul, Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and Democrat Senator Thomas Stewart Udall, voted against the legislation.

In a statement, Senator Udall released on late Wednesday, he said he objected to the move because he did not believe the effectiveness of sanction efforts while conducting foreign policy.

“In this case, we are rushing to consider a bill to impose sanctions on a long-time NATO ally without thorough analysis of how we got to this point, what these sanctions are intended to accomplish, and whether they are likely to succeed,” Udall said.

Udall also mentioned the Trump family’s business dealings in Turkey, citing a potential conflict of interest during a sensitive time in U.S.- Turkish relations.

“If Congress is so concerned with U.S.-Turkish relations that we are resorting to sanctions, then we must also require that the president to divest of his multi-million dollar per year licensing deal for Trump Towers in Istanbul,” he said.

U.S. Senator Jim Risch, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been pushing to move forward with legislation to sanction Turkey.

BREAKING: Senate Foreign Relations Committee just passed our Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act.@SenatorRisch #SFRC

— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) December 11, 2019

“Turkey’s actions over the past year are truly beyond the pale. This bill makes clear to #Turkey that its behavior with respect to #Syria is unacceptable, and its purchase of the S400 system is untenable,” said Democrat Senator Robert Menendez, one of the co-sponsors of the bill.

The Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act requires U.S. President to impose five or more out of 12 possible sanctions under CAATSA no later than 30 days after the bill is enacted. U.S. President Donald Trump has been holding off imposing congressionally mandated sanctions in response to Ankara’s purchase of the S-400.

“Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall impose 5 or more of the sanctions described in section 235 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (22 U.S.C. 9529) with respect to the Government of Turkey,” the bill states.

However, the measures in the bill will hit Turkey beyond the S-400 issue, such as targeted sanctions and restrictions on Turkish officials, institutions, to loans from international financial institutions that benefit Turkey, and arms sales tied to operations in Syria that would restrict U.S. arms sales to Turkey and sanction Turkish officials and those involved in providing weapons to Turkey’s military in Syria.

Under the framework of promoting stability in Syria, the bill would require an investigation and report on war crimes committed by the Turkish army and Turkish-backed Syrian rebel militias during the Syria operation, a report on Turkey’s participation in NATO, and providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria.

Furthermore, the bill also includes a report on the net worth of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the estimated net worth and known sources of income of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his family members (including spouse, children, parents, and siblings), including assets, investments, other business interests, and relevant beneficial ownership information,” the bill stated.

The U.S. House of Representatives following Turkey’s military operation into northeast Syria in October passed its Turkey sanctions legislation. Senators have introduced several bills to sanction Turkey, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has cautioned against imposing sanctions.

Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalın on Wednesday said Turkey maintained its position on the issue despite the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s bill move.

“The process regarding the S400s will continue whether the U.S. Congress passes the bill or not,” Kalın said.

“The framework set by our president is clear, there is no step back from the S-400s and we will make the necessary arrangements to prevent any risk when we use them,” he said.



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