U.S. President Donald Trump announced sanctions on Turkey via executive order, “immediately” cutting off trade and leveling 50% steel tariffs for its ongoing actions in Syria as American forces pull out of the region, leaving behind Kurdish allies who helped in the fight against Isis.
Trump announced the executive order via statement posted on Twitter on Monday.
“This Order will enable the United States to impose powerful additional sanctions on those who may be involved in serious human rights abuses, obstructing a ceasefire, preventing displaced persons from returning home, forcibly repatriating refugees, or threatening the peace, security, or stability in Syria,” the statement reads.
Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding Turkey’s Actions in Northeast Syria pic.twitter.com/ZCQC7nzmME
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2019
The executive order follows the decision to pull U.S. forces from Syria along its northern border with Turkey, giving Turkish soldiers free reign to launch attacks against Kurdish forces.
The Turks and the Kurds have been going at each other for years and Turkey signaled plans to go on the offensive after Trump told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan he was pulling U.S. forces out of the region.
The sudden move to pull American troops set off a bipartisan furor in the U.S., including from some of Trump’s closest allies like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who went so far as to announce plans to work with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on a joint resolution to overturn the president’s withdrawal order.
The Kurds, meanwhile, accused the U.S. of having “abandoned us to a Turkish massacre.”
Trump first gave a bizarre statement to reporters, saying the Kurds didn’t help the U.S. with the invasion of Normandy in 1944 during World War II.
He then took to Twitter to defend his move amid an onslaught of criticism, saying “Those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight.”
The five-tweet thread follows, strung together for readability.
“The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, that was many years ago. We stayed and got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight. When I arrived in Washington, ISIS was running rampant in the area,” Trump tweeted. ‘We quickly defeated 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, including capturing thousands of ISIS fighters, mostly from Europe. But Europe did not want them back, they said you keep them USA! I said ‘NO, we did you a great favor and now you want us to hold them in U.S. prisons at tremendous cost. They are yours for trials.’ They again said ‘NO,’ thinking, as usual, that the U.S. is always the ‘sucker,’ on NATO, on Trade, on everything.
“The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home. WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN. Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS fighters in their ‘neighborhood.’ They all hate ISIS, have been enemies for years. We are 7000 miles away and will crush ISIS again if they come anywhere near us!”
The U.S. in May cut tariffs on Turkish steel down to 25% after the import duties were put in place, as Trump sought to apply pressure and get Turkey to release Pastor Andrew Brunson, a U.S. citizen detained on charges of terrorism, charges he denied.
And now those 50% tariffs are back in place, at least on Turkish steel.
Editor’s note: Getting out of “endless wars” sounds great, but did Trump make a mistake by abandoning our allies in Syria after they helped the U.S. fight Isis? Share your thoughts below.