On Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham warned Turkey that a bipartisan group of lawmakers would introduce sanctions against the country and “call for their suspension from NATO” if it moves forward with a planned attack on the Kurds in Syria.
“We will introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the U.S. in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate,” Graham stated.
“Hope and expect sanctions against Turkey — if necessary — would be veto-proof,” Graham added. He stated that he had just spoken to Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who was on board with the plan.
Hope and expect sanctions against Turkey – if necessary – would be veto-proof.
This decision to abandon our Kurdish allies and turn Syria over to Russia, Iran, & Turkey will put every radical Islamist on steroids. Shot in the arm to the bad guys. Devastating for the good guys.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 7, 2019
Graham has harshly criticized Donald Trump for his abrupt decision to withdraw US troops from northeastern Syria. By doing so Trump is abandoning Kurdish forces and opening the door for a Turkish military invasion. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly stated that he views the Kurdish forces as a threat.
Graham is usually a vocal supporter of Trump, but he has exhibited a tendency to break from Trump on foreign policy. This is not the first time that Graham has criticized Trump when it comes to US policy toward Syria.
The Kurds played a key role in the fight against the US, losing thousands of fighters in the process. A spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces called Trump’s withdrawal of troops a “stab in the back.”
Graham has warned that it sends “the most dangerous signal possible” that the US is an “unreliable ally.”
The Pentagon has stated that it is still trying to talk Turkey out of invading northeastern Syria.
In a written statement released on Monday, Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon’s chief spokesperson, stated that the U.S. does not endorse a Turkish military operation in Syria and will not support it.
Hoffman added that Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Mark Milley, told their Turkish counterparts that unilateral military action in the Kurdish area of Syria “creates risks” for Turkey.
Donald Trump used Twitter on Monday to threaten the destruction of Turkey’s economy if it does not watch over captured Islamic State fighters and their families detained in Syria.
“If Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off-limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey,” Trump tweeted.
….the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019
Trump defended his sudden decision to pull back U.S. troops from northern Syria, clearing the way for an expected Turkish military invasion against Kurdish forces. They were backed by the U.S., but Turkey views them as terrorists and a threat to the country.