WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday signed an order authorizing sanctions against Turkey and raised tariffs on steel imports from the country in response to its military operations in Syria.
Following the authorization, the U.S. Treasury announced later in the day that it has designated Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, as well as the heads of the two ministries and the minister of the Interior, for their involvement in Turkey’s actions “that further deteriorate peace, security, and stability of the region”, saying it is prepared to impose additional sanctions on Turkish officials and entities “as necessary.”
Trump said in a statement released on Monday afternoon that the United States will immediately stop negotiations for a 100-billion-U.S.-dollar trade deal with Turkey and raise tariffs on steel imports from Turkey back up to 50 percent.
The Trump administration’s new move came days after Turkey launched military operations targeting the Kurdish forces in several parts of northeast Syria and also followed Trump’s order over the weekend to withdraw around 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told reporters on Monday evening that Trump spoke with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier in the day and called for an immediate end to Turkey’s moves against the Kurdish forces in Syria.
Pence also said that he will soon visit the Middle East to mediate the crisis.
Trump previewed the executive order he was to sign in a statement first posted in his Monday afternoon tweet, saying that the order will also enable Washington to impose “powerful additional sanctions” against those involved in “serious human rights abuses, obstructing a ceasefire, preventing displaced persons from returning home” among other issues regarding Turkey’s action in Syria.
The blacklisted persons will face a broad range of consequences, “including financial sanctions, the blocking of property, and barring entry into the United States,” the statement added.
Trump also noted that the U.S. troops leaving Syria will remain in the Middle East region to “monitor the situation,” while a small number of U.S. forces will remain at At Tanf Garrison in southern Syria to counter the remnants of the Islamic State (IS).
The tariffs hike announced on Monday is expected to put Ankara in a tougher economic situation after a reduction of months ago.
The United States in May cut its tariffs on imports of Turkish steel from 50 percent to 25 percent while terminating the preferential trade treatment for Turkey.