US lawmakers pile on pressure, introduce new sanctions bill on Turkey

Airmen spread out around the flightline to begin a foreign-object-debris walk to remove trash and other objects from the area May 29, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The FOD walk was a combined effort between the 39th Air Base Wing and Turkish air force 10th Tanker Base Command to clear the area of debris that could potentially damage aircraft engines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marissa Tucker/Released)

Washington (dpa) – US senators introduced bipartisan legislation that would impose a raft of new sanctions on Turkey, including measures against top government officials, the military, a state-run bank and a ban on US citizens buying Turkish government debt.

The bipartisan bill, led by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, comes a day after the House of Representatives rebuked President Donald Trump for his Syria wind-down decision by a vote of 354 to 60.

“We will impose sanctions in the strongest measure possible,” Graham said on Thursday. “I think if we had a vote on these sanctions it would be veto proof,” he added, sidestepping a question from a reporter about whether Trump would sign the bill.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal warned of an “ethnic cleaning” by Turkish-backed militias against the Syrian Kurds. “History will haunt us,” he told reporters.

Trump is under fire at home for withdrawing troops from the Turkish-Syrian border, paving the way for a Turkish invasion.

The president says he is trying to end US foreign wars, but Democrats have hit back, noting that Trump has deployed additional forces in recent weeks to Saudi Arabia.

The sanctions bill would prohibit US military assistance to Turkey, block arms sales, impose visa restrictions on Turkish officials, sanction the energy sector and would sanction Halkbank, a state-run bank.

Notably, the bill would prohibit US citizens and entities from buying Turkish government debt.

The bill also demands reporting on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s net worth.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has indicated he would allow a floor vote at least on a bill rebuking Trump.

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