Trump attempts the Walk Back dance wearing flip-flops. This should be interesting.

US sanctions Turkey over Syria offensive

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – After a week of threats, United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday sanctioning three Turkish ministers and two ministries over Turkey’s unilateral incursion into northern Syria. His administration has offered to mediate a ceasefire and warned that more sanctions could follow if Turkey does not end its military incursion.

Violence has escalated as Turkish-backed groups continue to advance into northern Syria in its Operation Peace Spring, now in its eighth day.

Trump repeatedly warned he would introduce sanctions and, on Monday, the US Treasury Department formally sanctioned Turkey’s Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar, Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu, and Fatih Donmez, the Minister of Energy.

Both the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources were also sanctioned.

“The United States is holding the Turkish Government accountable for escalating violence by Turkish forces, endangering innocent civilians, and destabilizing the region,” US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters in a joint press conference alongside Vice President Mike Pence on Monday.

Dealing with the designated ministers and their ministries is now prohibited, Treasury added. The department was clear, however, that the sanctions would not affect the operations of NGOs or United Nations in Turkey who are providing services to Syrians.

The sanctions will also not affect Turkey’s energy sector. The Treasury “is prepared to issue authorizations, such as general or specific licenses, as appropriate, to ensure that today’s action does not disrupt Turkey’s ability to meet its energy needs.”

“We are not looking to shut down the energy for the people of Turkey,” said Mnunchin.

Trump also announced measures against Turkey in a statement on Twitter on Monday, bringing steel tariffs back up to the 50 percent that had stood before being reduced in May.

“The United States will also immediately stop negotiations, being led by the Department of Commerce, with respect to a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey,” Trump said.

“Turkey’s military offensive is endangering civilians and threatening peace, security, and stability in the region. I have been perfectly clear with [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan: Turkey’s action is precipitating a humanitarian crisis and setting conditions for possible war crimes,” the president said, demanding Turkey protect civilians and not jeopardize gains made in the war against the Islamic State (ISIS).

“I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” Trump declared.

Mnuchin described the sanctions as “very very strong,” but qualified they would be lifted if Turkey took “necessary actions,” without going into further detail.

The US move came after European Union nations condemned Turkey’s military incursion.
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