October 11, 2019

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Announces Planned Sanctions Authorities on Turkey

By Samuel Rubenfeld

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Friday that President Donald Trump will sign an executive order imposing sanctions on Turkey over its offensive in Syria, but that the measures won’t immediately be implemented.

The White House did not immediately release the text of an executive order. Mnuchin, however, described its terms when speaking to reporters, saying it will allow the U.S. to sanction individuals and entities of the Turkish government involved in human rights abuses or actions leading to the destabilization of northeastern Syria. It will also allow the Treasury to impose secondary sanctions on those moving funds on behalf of designated Turkish parties.

“There are no sanctions at this time, but this will be the broadest executive authorities delegated to us,” Mnuchin said during the briefing. A short statement from the Treasury following his remarks included a direct warning to financial institutions to be on the alert for potential actions.

The announcement of an impending executive order comes as Turkey continues its incursion in northeastern Syria that has caused civilians to flee the area. The United Nations Security Council on Thursday did not agree on a statement condemning the Turkish effort. European Union diplomats said EU sanctions at this time are unlikely despite their anger and alarm. U.S. lawmakers have been pushing for sanctions on Turkish leaders since the offensive began.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Friday that 342 people had been killed since the start of the operation two days ago. The people killed, Akar said, were members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the U.S. has designated as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), and fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). The YPG is a group that leads the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and has been a U.S. ally against Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). 

An SDF spokesman said Friday that five ISIS militants have broken out of a prison in Qamishli city, northern Syria, after nearby shelling. It came as ISIS claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack in the city.

“It is imperative that Turkey not allow even a single ISIS fighter to escape,” Mnuchin said.


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