Graham, Van Hollen pledge bipartisan sanctions on Turkey if it attacks Kurds

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Monday that he and Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) will introduce sanctions against Turkey if it attacks Kurdish forces in northern Syria. 


Graham said in a tweet that he “just spoke” with Van Hollen about President Trump‘s decision to pull back U.S. troops as Ankara plans to move forward with a long-threatened offensive in northeastern Syria.


“We will introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the U.S. in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate,” Graham added. 



The threat of sanctions is the latest sign of quickly growing pushback from Congress over the decision, even as Trump doubled down on Monday saying it was time to end U.S. involvement in “ridiculous endless wars.”

Lawmakers are currently out of town as part of a two-week recess. They are set to return to Washington on Oct. 14. 

Any attempt to slap new sanctions on Ankara could face pushback from the administration, with the White House’s decision widely viewed as an endorsement of Turkey’s planned military operation. 

Graham said on Monday that he hoped his forthcoming sanctions legislation with Van Hollen would get enough support to override a potential veto, meaning he would need 67 votes. 
“Hope and expect sanctions against Turkey – if necessary – would be veto-proof. This decision to abandon our Kurdish allies and turn Syria over to Russia, Iran, & Turkey will put every radical Islamist on steroids. Shot in the arm to the bad guys. Devastating for the good guys,” he tweeted. 


Graham didn’t provide any details in his tweets about what the sanctions legislation might look like. He said during an interview earlier Monday on Fox News that he would target Turkey’s military and economy “if they step one foot into Syria.” 

Senate Republicans joined with Democrats in a 68-23 vote earlier this year to admonish Trump’s Syria policy, and warn the administration against removing troops from Syria or Afghanistan. 
Trump called for a complete withdrawal from Syria last December, but ultimately reversed course amid protest from the Pentagon.
A Van Hollen aide confirmed that the two senators spoke on Monday.
Van Hollen confirmed in a tweet that he was working with Graham in the wake of Trump’s decision.
“I’m working with @LindseyGrahamSC to make sure Turkey knows that Congress will not abandon our key allies in the war against ISIS and stand by while U.S. foreign policy is outsourced to Russia, Iran, and Turkey,” he tweeted. 
 — Updated at 12:28 p.m.

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