Safeguarding US Business Interests in Middle East, Turkey sanctions Delayed

Turkey Sanctions

The US’ acts of sanctioning Turkey over Ankara’s military incursion into northeast Syria, was viewed as a threat to Turkey’s economy.

The Turkey sanctions and tariffs that were imposed on the Turkish officials and its defense and energy ministries were considered to be a huge blow to the Turkish economy, which has not fully recovered from the recession of 2018.

Following the sanctions, the Turkish officials confirmed that there are chances that the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, may call off his scheduled visit to Washington. This brought concerns from the Trump administration supporting leaders, who in turn tried to delay action on the sanctions bill.

Since, the imposed Turkey sanctions brought huge disparities between both the countries, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Jim Risch, stated, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to have a hearing on that bill while [Erdogan] is here.”

The sanctions were imposed to end Turkey’s military incursion in Syria. A high-level US delegation including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser Robert O’Brien visited Turkey on October 17 to negotiate on the issue. It was the first major meeting between the two countries since the withdrawal of the US armed forces from northern Syria.

In order to avoid severing the US-Turkey relations during Erdogan’s visit, the senators have planned to delay the bipartisan legislation of sanctioning Turkey for its invasion in northern Syria. The move is clearly meant to avoid the subject during the US and Turkish President’s meet in Washington on November 13.

The US recognizing the Armenian genocide in late October came as another blow to Turkey. The country viewed the recognition as a betrayal because the Turkish government has long denied the fact that the Ottoman period constituted Armenian genocide, and the House last week passed a separate resolution condemning the Turks’ unfairness towards the Armenians.

Authored by the chairman and ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the House bill reflecting Turkey sanctions even prohibited transfers of US military technology to Turkish units involved in the Syrian campaign.

As the bill also requires the Treasury Department to estimate the personal fortune of Erdogan and his family, which is a direct slap on the face of the longtime Turkish leader, Risch has opposed to discuss the issues, which could bring diplomatic controversies between the nations.

The Senate panel was supposed to vote on the sanctions bill next week, but there has been no confirmation as to whether the voting would still occur, following Committee Chairman’s change of mind.

Many multinational companies conducting business in Turkey are bracing for more restrictions and have lost revenue in the wake of the US imposed sanctions. This could further complicate compliance as geopolitical tensions grow amongst the Middle-Eastern countries. Altogether, the Turkey sanctions bill, if not delayed, might affect the US’ business interests in the Middle-Eastern country.


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