Turkey faces ‘pow­er­ful sanc­tions’ by U.S.

Trump threat­ens to ‘shut down’ its econ­omy over Syr­ian at­tacks, but Er­do­gan won’t ‘step back’

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD -

The White House is putting Turkey on no­tice that it could face new “pow­er­ful sanc­tions” and that the United States will “shut down the Turk­ish econ­omy” if Ankara goes too far in its in­cur­sion against the Kurds in north­ern Syria.

Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin said at the White House on Fri­day that the U.S. hopes it will not have to use its new, ex­panded sanc­tions au­thor­ity Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has au­tho­rized.

Trump was crit­i­cized for pulling back U.S. forces from north­ern Syria, af­ter which Turkey launched an of­fen­sive into Syria against Kur­dish forces it sees as ter­ror­ists. The U.S.-backed the Kur­dish forces that fought against Is­lamic State (ISIL) fight­ers and has guarded thou­sands in de­ten­tion cen­tres.

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan said Fri­day his coun­try “will not take a step back” from its of­fen­sive against mil­i­tants it sees as a na­tional se­cu­rity threat.

Ear­lier, Turk­ish authoritie­s said eight civil­ians were killed in a Turk­ish bor­der town af­ter a mor­tar at­tack from Kur­dish-held Syria, bring­ing the civil­ian death toll in Turkey since the be­gin­ning of its cross-bor­der of­fen­sive to 17. The United Na­tions says an es­ti­mated 100,000 peo­ple have been dis­placed three days into the of­fen­sive, while mar­kets, schools and clin­ics have been closed.

In Wash­ing­ton, De­fence Sec­re­tary Mark Esper said Turkey’s “im­pul­sive” de­ci­sion to in­vade north­ern Syria will fur­ther desta­bi­lize a re­gion al­ready caught up in civil war. But he said a pull­back of U.S. troops from the bor­der does not mean the United States has aban­doned its Syr­ian Kur­dish part­ners.

Wash­ing­ton is “greatly dis­ap­pointed” by the Turk­ish in­cur­sion, Esper told a Pen­tagon news con­fer­ence. He said it has badly dam­aged al­ready frayed re­la­tions with Turkey, a NATO ally ousted from a Pen­tagon fighter jet pro­gram in July for re­fus­ing to drop its pur­chase of a Rus­sian air de­fence sys­tem.

Many have called Trump’s de­ci­sion to pull U.S. troops away from the Turk­ish bor­der a grave mis­take. Even some of his staunch­est Repub­li­can sup­port­ers have sharply crit­i­cized the de­ci­sion and urged him to re­con­sider.

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