Published: Sat, October 12, 2019
Economy | By

United States threatens Turkey with 'very significant' sanctions

United States threatens Turkey with 'very significant' sanctions

On Sunday, Trump abruptly shifted policy and said he was withdrawing US forces from northeastern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey to launch an assault across the border.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a White House briefing that the USA had the power to "shut down" the Turkish economy, reiterating an unusual threat of economic war against an ally who's a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance.

It's unclear what threshold Mr. Trump has in mind for triggering economic punishment, or why he is making this threat only after he announced that about 50 American special forces would exit a key buffer zone along the Turkey-Syria border. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He accompanied by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, greets the media before a minister-level trade meeting in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2.

Turkey began the offensive quickly, pounding Kurdish militias, who recently were fighting alongside USA forces against the ISIS terrorist group, on Wednesday and Thursday, killing dozens and forcing many thousands of people to flee.

The punitive measures, Mnuchin said, can be targeted at any person associated with the Turkish government.

The official commended Trump as a "visionary person" because "he knew the threat imposed on Turkey by the terrorist group, so he took the decision to remove US forces from the area".

"At this point, we are not activating the sanctions", he added.

A slew of Trump's key allies, such as South Carolina Republican Sen.

Mr. Mnuchin said that he did not believe that the president's actions were what led to the current situation in the region. The Treasury could also impose secondary sanctions on those engaging in knowing and significant transactions with designated individuals and entities of the Government of Turkey. The U.S. armed and supported PKK as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which served as American foot soldiers against ISIS. Mnuchin said Trump wants to make it clear that "it is imperative that Turkey not allow a single ISIS fighter to escape". And on Friday, the group reported that five ISIS members had escaped from a prison after Turkish mortar rounds landed nearby.

A Treasury Department press release said the sanctions threat is meant to "dissuade Turkey from any further offensive military action in northeast Syria, including but not limited to indiscriminate targeting of civilians, targeting of civilian infrastructure, targeting of ethnic or religious minorities, or targeting or other actions that undermine the continued counterterrorism activities" of the US-backed Syrian Kurds. It also called on Turkey to immediately stop military action in northeast Syria and called on the United States to stand with Syrian Kurdish communities affected by violence.

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