Press Releases

Spanberger Joins Two Bipartisan Turkey Sanctions Bills, Calls for Turkish Government to be Held Accountable for Deadly Military Offensive in Syria

Tough Sanctions Would Punish Turkish Leaders, Companies, & Armed Forces for Destabilizing Behavior in Syria

Washington, October 18, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today joined two bipartisan sanctions bills that would hold Turkey accountable for its deadly incursion into Northern Syria.

Through these tough, targeted sanctions, Spanberger is working to penalize the Turkish leaders, companies, and armed forces responsible for aggressive actions against the Kurdish people and U.S.-allied forces in the region.

“Turkey’s unilateral, offensive military actions in Northern Syria are truly horrifying, and President Erdogan is creating yet another humanitarian crisis in his own backyard. These major sanctions against President Erdogan and his regime would make clear that our country stands with our Kurdish allies and that we strongly disavow ongoing attacks that could endanger Kurdish civilians, empower former ISIS fighters, and create opportunities for Syria, Russia, and Iran to take advantage of this situation,” said Spanberger. “The administration’s ill-advised decision to green-light this appalling invasion further sullies our reputation as a trusted partner on the world stage—and it jeopardizes much of our progress in containing the threat of ISIS in the region. As we are already watching the breakdown of a supposed ‘ceasefire’ in the region, I urge my colleagues in both houses of Congress to take strong actions during this critical moment to ensure the safety of our Kurdish partners and the future of U.S. global leadership.”

Specifically, Spanberger cosponsored the Countering Turkish Aggression Act, a sanctions bill led by U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY-AL). The legislation would:

  • Sanction U.S. assets of senior Turkish political leadership, including President Erdogan,
  • Sanction any foreign person selling or providing military support or technology to the Turkish military,
  • Prohibit the sale of U.S. weapons and defense materials to the Turkish military, and
  • Sanction Turkey’s domestic petroleum and natural gas production for use by its armed forces.

This bipartisan sanctions package mirrors the sanctions bill introduced yesterday by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in the U.S. Senate. If enacted into law, this sanctions package would immediately impose mandatory sanctions on Turkey until it halts its unilateral operations in Syria and has withdrawn its forces from occupied areas. Click here to read the full bill text.

Additionally, Spanberger today cosponsored the Protect Against Conflict with Turkey Act, which is led by U.S. Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) and Michael McCaul (R-TX-10). This bipartisan sanctions bill would:

  • Sanction senior Turkish officials involved in the decision to invade Northern Syria and those committing human rights abuses,
  • Penalize Turkish financial institutions involved in perpetuating President Erdogan’s corrupt practices and those that deal with the Turkish defense industry,
  • Prevent the sale of arms to Turkey for use in Syria,
  • Require a series of reports to address the negative consequences of the Turkish invasion of northern Syria, and
  • Mandate a report on Erdogan’s net worth and assets.

Click here to read the full bill text.

BACKGROUND

Last week, Spanberger returned from a bipartisan congressional delegation trip to Turkey, Afghanistan, and the Syrian-Jordanian border. Following the administration’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Northern Syria, the bipartisan delegation released a statement strongly criticizing the move.

And earlier this week, Spanberger cosponsored the resolution and voted with an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority of the U.S. House to condemn Turkey’s military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northern Syria.

Spanberger is a former Central Intelligence Agency case officer, and she serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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