Sen. James Risch

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approves Turkey Sanctions, Condemns Invasion of Syria


WASHINGTON —  The Armenian Assembly of America applauds the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and its approval with a vote of 18-4 of U.S. sanctions against Turkey for its military invasion of northeast Syria. The next step is approval by the full Senate.

The legislation on Turkish sanctions, S.2641, was introduced by SFRC Chairman James Risch (R-ID) and Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ), along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Doug Jones (D-AL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and John Barrasso (R-WY).

“Turkey’s support of ISIS and its attacks on ethnic and religious minorities are unforgivable. The killing last month in which ISIS militants took great pride of an Armenian priest traveling to Deir el-Zor in northern Syria to visit the Armenian Catholic Church is beyond reprehensible. As we have previously expressed, Turkey needs to stop supporting terrorism and should be immediately removed from NATO,” stated Assembly Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian.

“We commend Chairman Risch and Ranking Member Menendez for this much-needed measure,” they added, as a New York Times headline this week stated: “Turkey and Russia Judged Bigger Risk Than ISIS for U.S. Troops in Syria.”

“Turkey’s actions over the past year are truly beyond the pale,” Ranking Member Menendez said on Twitter. “This bill makes clear to Turkey that its behavior with respect to Syria is unacceptable, and its purchase of the S400 system is untenable.”

The legislation states that “Turkey’s military invasion of Northeast Syria is an unacceptable and unnecessary escalation of tensions with the potential to cause a severe humanitarian crisis” as well as “undo the collective gains made in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).” It also calls for sanctions against Turkish government officials and Turkish Armed Forces who are responsible or complicit in “a violation of the law of armed conflict” or “a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights.”

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As a member of NATO, “Turkey is treaty bound to safeguard the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law,” according to the legislation, and “should be united with other NATO allies in efforts for collective defense and the preservation of peace and security.”

Instead, Turkey’s actions continue to undermine the alliance and destabilize the region as outlined in a recent bipartisan letter led by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), wherein the lawmakers wrote: “President Erdogan’s decision to invade northern Syria on October 9 has had disastrous consequences for U.S. national security, has led to deep divisions in the NATO alliance, and caused a humanitarian crisis on the ground.”

Last week during the NATO summit, Turkish forces killed 8 children in Tal Rifaat in northern Syria, with reports of more casualties while Turkish President Erdogan ignored the concerns from the NATO alliance, and threatened to veto NATO’s defense plan for the Baltics. Erdogan demanded that NATO member states endorse his own false claim that Syrian Kurdish fighters on Turkey’s borders are terrorists, a definition that the U.S. Pentagon rejected.

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