A U.S. Senate committee backed legislation on Dec. 11 to impose sanctions on Turkey after its offensive in northern Syria and purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense system, prompting Turkey to deem to move as “disrespect.”
The Republican-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted by 18-4 to send the “Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act of 2019” for a vote in the full Senate.
“Now’s the time for the Senate to come together and take this opportunity to change Turkey’s behavior,” said Senator Jim Risch, the panel’s Republican chairman.
Another Republican, Senator Rand Paul, spoke against the bill. He said the Trump administration objected to it because it would weaken the president’s power and could make it more difficult to negotiate with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdoğan on matters such as the NATO ally’s purchase of the missile system and fighting in Syria.
Other senators strongly disagreed. Many lawmakers, Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, are angry about Turkey’s S-400 purchase, which they see as a threat to NATO systems. They are also furious about Turkey’s offensive against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.
“This is not some minor dustup with this country. This is a drift by this country, Turkey, to go an entirely different direction than what they have in the past,” Risch said.
“They’ve thumbed their nose at us, and they’ve thumbed their nose at their other NATO allies,” he said.
‘Disrespect towards our sovereign decisions’
A statement was released from Turkish Foreign Ministry following the passing of the bill, saying that some circles feel deep resentment towards Turkey.
“The initiatives conducted in both houses of the Congress through internal political considerations and supported by known anti-Turkish circles, are yet another manifestation of the disrespect shown towards our sovereign decisions concerning our national security. Those initiatives have no other function than to harm Turkish-U.S. relations,” the statement released on Dec. 12 read.
“We call upon the U.S. Congress to adopt a constructive approach safeguarding our common objectives to develop Turkish-U.S. relations which were confirmed at the highest level in recent weeks and to act in a reasonable manner,” it added.