By Nick Wadhams
WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) — The Trump administration opposes Turkey sanctions adopted by the House last week as well as a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide, arguing that the two initiatives risk further straining relations with a key NATO ally, a senior State Department official said.
The administration is concerned that the sanctions — passed 403-16 in the House last week in response to the Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria — will tie its hands and cut off options to resolve US concerns about Turkey’s actions, said the official, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations. The official wouldn’t say whether President Donald Trump intends to veto the bill.
The measure, H.R. 4695, would sanction senior Turkish officials and prohibit them from entering the US It would also bar the transfer of US defense materiel to Turkey for use in Syria, and it would require the Pentagon and State Department to submit plans to prevent the resurgence of Islamic State.
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, said during debate on the measure that Trump gave Erdogan “the green light to launch a military invasion of northern Syria” that resulted in “slaughtering our Syrian Kurdish partners who fought alongside the United States” against Islamic State. The administration has denied that Trump’s withdrawal of US forces gave a go-ahead signal to Ankara.
The same day the House passed the sanctions bill, it also approved a resolution condemning the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians early in the last century by the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of the Republic of Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government vehemently opposed the resolution and summoned US Ambassador David Satterfield to express its disapproval.