Accusing Turkey of endangering civilians and threatening peace and security with its Syrian operation, US President Donald Trump has announced upcoming tariffs and sanctions against Turkish officials and economy.
“Turkey’s action is precipitating a humanitarian crisis and setting conditions for possible war crimes,” Trump said on Monday, announcing the upcoming measures against Ankara.
In addition to an executive order sanctioning current and former officials involved in “destabilizing actions in northeast Syria,” Trump said he would raise tariffs on Turkish steel to 50 percent, and immediately stop the negotiations over a trade deal valued at $100 billion.
Turkey launched the so-called ‘Operation Peace Spring’ last week, following Trump’s announcement that he was pulling back US troops stationed along the Syrian-Turkish border. Kurdish militias working with the US against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) are considered by Ankara to be terrorist organizations, and the operation was aimed at pushing them back 30 km away from the border.
“I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” the US president said.
While accusing Ankara of jeopardizing the victory over IS, Trump also announced the departure of all remaining US troops from Syria, with the exception of a “small footprint” at At-Tanf in the south, on the border with Jordan.
US troops will “redeploy and remain in the region to monitor the situation,” to prevent the return of IS, Trump added.
“Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land,” Trump had tweeted an hour earlier, referring to the Syrian president Bashar Assad, and adding he would much rather focus on defending the US border with Mexico.
….I would much rather focus on our Southern Border which abuts and is part of the United States of America. And by the way, numbers are way down and the WALL is being built!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2019
This may already be happening, as the Syrian Arab Army has been spotted moving towards the border on Monday under an apparent deal with the Kurds. The US has previously blocked any attempts by the Syrian government to reclaim territory liberated from IS by the Kurdish militias, seeking to establish some kind of parallel administration in hopes of eventually overthrowing Assad.
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