The US could paralyze the Turkish economy if they wanted - that was the US government's threat to Turkey. Because of the controversial Turkish military offensive in northern Syria Washington wants to make serious now.
A statement by US President Donald Trump said that because of Turkey's "destabilizing actions in northeastern Syria," punitive tariffs on steel imports from Turkey would be raised to 50 percent. "I am fully prepared to quickly destroy the Turkish economy as leading Turkish politicians continue on this dangerous and destructive path," Trump said. In addition, the US government will "promptly" break off negotiations on a trade agreement.
Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding Turkey's Actions in Northeast Syria pic.twitter.com/ZCQC7nzmME- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2019
Current and former government members of Turkey and anyone contributing to the actions of Turkey in northeastern Syria could be sanctioned, it said. There was no further information at first.
Trump had doubled the tariffs on steel imports from Turkey in August last year to 50 percent. He voiced his call for the release of US pastor Andrew Brunson, who was held in Turkey. Brunson was released in October. Last May Trump halved tariffs again.
Last week, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had already announced that the US was preparing tough sanctions against Turkey. "The president has authorized me to effectively shut down the entire Turkish economy, and we can do that from one moment to the other at his command," Mnuchin told TV channel ABC on Sunday.
US troops are to oversee the situation
Last week, the US government called on Turkey to stop the military offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia, which has been ongoing since Wednesday, and repeatedly warned its NATO partner. At the same time, Trump had virtually cleared the way for the withdrawal of US troops from the region shortly before the start of the offensive, for which he received much criticism from within his own ranks.
On Sunday, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper also announced that Trump had ordered that the withdrawal of the approximately 1000 remaining soldiers in the region should be started. In the latest release, however, Trump now announces that US troops, even after leaving northern Syria, will remain "in the region" to "keep an eye on the situation" and maintain the fight against the terrorist militia "Islamic State" (IS).
Trump said the military offensive endangers civilians and peace, security and stability in the region. Turkey should not endanger the successes achieved in the fight against IS. In addition, Turkey must put the protection of civilians, ethnic and religious minorities in front.
The Turkish government had been unimpressed by sanction threats. Anyone who thinks that Turkey will stray from its path because of economic sanctions or arms embargoes is wrong, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday. Turkey is a NATO partner and the Kurdish militia YPG a "terrorist organization".
The YPG militia controls a large area on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey. It leads the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which was an important ally of the US in the fight against IS. Turkey sees in it an offshoot of the banned Kurdish workers' party PKK. The offensive meets with sharp international criticism. Governments and institutions also spoke of legitimate security interests of Turkey in the border area.
At the same time, the US Congress was pushing party and chamber-wide efforts to sanction Turkey. US Senators had already prepared a bipartisan resolution last week. It is not just personal sanctions against Erdogan. For example, arms deals with Turkey would be penalized.