Donald Trump has announced sanctions against Turkish officials over Ankara’s incursion against Syrian Kurds. He also criticized European allies for not taking “Islamic State” prisoners from the region.
President Donald Trump has slammed Turkey’s actions in Syria as “dangerous” and warned that “targeting of ethnic or religious minorities is unacceptable.”
“Turkey’s military offensive is endangering civilians and threatening peace, security, and stability in the region,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday.
Trump’s reaction comes just over a week after he ordered US troops to withdraw from the Kurdish-populated areas in northeast Syria. Days later, Turkey began moving troops across the border and launched its campaign against the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara believes to be a terrorist organization.
US to target ‘current and former officials’
In his statement, Trump said he would be issuing an order to impose sanctions against “current and former officials of the Government of Turkey and any persons contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions.” The measures would include financial sanctions and barring entry into the US.
Trump also pledged to raise steel tariffs to 50% and to halt talks on a $100 billion trade deal between Washington and Ankara.
“I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” he said.
Trump’s decision on steel tariffs brings them back to the level they were at during last year’s spat between the US and Turkey over the fate of US pastor Andrew Brunson. The pastor was released last October, and Washington cut the tariffs to 25% in May.
‘Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds’
Trump shared his official statement on Twitter following a series of contradicting posts on Syria. In one of them, he referred to Syrian leader Bashar Assad as “our enemy,” and then said Assad and his allies would “naturally” want to protect the Kurds.
“Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land,” Trump wrote.
“Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!” he added.
In his online posts, he also thanked Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich for her claim that Washington’s European allies “didn’t step in to deal with” the “Islamic State” group.
“Now, Angela Merkel of Germany is finally stepping up and telling Turkey to back off,” Pavlich was quoted by Trump as saying.
Trump then slammed European countries for rejecting to take in former “Islamic State” members as prisoners.
“They probably figured the US would bear the tremendous cost as always.”