Trump imposes sanctions on Turkey over the same Syria invasion he tacitly green-lit a week ago

Trump imposes sanctions on Turkey over the same Syria invasion he tacitly green-lit a week ago
President Donald J. Trump speaks on the phone in the Oval Office Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long to receive the latest update on the devastating wildfires in California. (Official Whte House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Donald Trump announced new sanctions on Turkey for its invasion of Syria, an invasion for which Trump himself gave Turkey the green light. Trump said Monday that new sanctions on Turkey would include a 50% tariff on steel, up from 25%, and cutting off the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, along with the ministers themselves, from global financial systems. But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not being hit by personal sanctions, and Turkey has already seen Trump raise tariffs on its steel to 50% only to roll them back to 25% once before, so officials have reason to suspect this could be short-lived.

These sanctions are in response to Turkey moving into Syria and attacking the Kurds, longtime U.S. allies in the region. But it’s not clear what Trump is actually calling on Turkey to do there. Trump said, “I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seemed to simply call for a cease-fire, saying, “Turkey must immediately cease its unilateral offensive in northeast Syria and return to a dialogue with the United States on security in northeast Syria.”

That’s not the only mixed message the Trump administration is sending. Vice President Mike Pence insisted on Monday evening, “The United States of America did not give a green light to Turkey to invade Syria.” Monday was just eight days after the White House announced, “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria.” Some experts suggested that the sanctions might be intended to blunt momentum in Congress for legislation pushing back on Trump’s withdrawal from Syria.

Turkey does not seem worried by the new sanctions and bluster from Trump: NBC News reports that “so far, the assault has only escalated.”

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