U.S. Sanctions Against Turkey

President Donald Trump could take far tougher action that would deter foreign investment and credit that Turkey badly needs. But doing so could backfire in a number of ways, and it’s not clear he really wants to said Josef Braml, head of the Americas program at the German Council on Foreign Relations in an interview with David McHugh from The Associated Press. More …

▶ Trump appears to be trying to get ahead of calls for sanctions from Congress amid resentment among security officials over Trump’s decision to give Turkey a green light to invade a strip of northern Syria to create a buffer zone. The military action is aimed at Kurdish fighters whom Turkey considers terrorists but who have been U.S. allies fighting Islamic State.

▶ Braml said that much may depend on what kind of understanding Trump reached with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before giving him the free hand to send troops in. “He didn’t sell the Kurds for nothing,” Braml said.

▶ Tougher sanctions risk unintended consequences, such as pushing Turkey closer to China. Trump did not impose sanctions on Turkey even after Erdogan last month defied the U.S. over buying oil and gas from Iran.

▶ Trump appears to want to appear tough on Turkey to pre-empt questions from Congress and the U.S. security services over the implications of his decision to let Turkey attack the Kurds in Syria, Braml said: “It’s always better, if you have a revolt against you, to get ahead of it. You appear as the strong man who is doing sanctions, otherwise Congress would force him to do something.”

▶ The open question, Braml said, is “whether he’s really serious about using the full arsenal – if it’s just window dressing or is he more serious.”