The United States government has put its previously threatened economic sanctions on Turkey into force, targeting top Turkish government agencies and officials as tensions between the two nations in the Middle East continued to escalate.
“The Turkish government’s actions are endangering innocent civilians and destabilizing the region, including undermining the campaign to defeat ISIS,” said the U.S. Department of Treasury in its statement. It clearly linked the imposition of sanctions with Turkey’s military operations in Syria.
“The United States is holding the Turkish government accountable for escalating violence by Turkish forces, endangering innocent civilians, and destabilizing the region,” added U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The new sanctions target Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s defense minister, as well as the defense ministry itself. The U.S. imposed additional sanctions on Suleyman Soylu, Turkey’s Minister of Interior; Fatih Donmez, the Minister of Energy; and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions decision by U.S. President Donald Trump followed warnings on Friday.
“As the president has made clear, Turkey’s actions in northeast Syria severely undermine the D-ISIS campaign,” he said, referring to years of international cooperation in the fight against Islamic State and extremist violence.
The conflict threatens regional stability, which has seen swift and sobering shifts in just days as the U.S. pulled back from its support of the Kurds in northern Syria and now is shifting troops to Saudi Arabia.
“If Turkey’s operation continues it will exacerbate a growing and daunting humanitarian crisis with potentially disastrous consequences,” Pompeo said.
The crisis over the Kurds and Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, with a subsequent Kurdish alignment with Syrian and Russian forces, has sparked a diplomatic storm with implications for African nations.
Libya and Egypt are among them, as well as Sudan and other countries with economic and development ties.
Image: U.S. Treasury file