US Senate committee approves Turkey sanctions bill

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A US Senate committee backed legislation on Wednesday to impose sanctions on Turkey after its offensive in northern Syria and plans to buy a Russian S-400 missile system, the latest move in the chamber to push Republican President Donald Trump to take a harder line against Ankara.

The Republican-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted by 18-4 to send the “Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act of 2019” for a vote in the full Senate.

“Now’s the time for the Senate to come together and take this opportunity to change Turkey’s behavior,” said Senator Jim Risch, the panel’s Republican chairman.

Another Republican, Senator Rand Paul, spoke against the bill. He said the Trump administration objected to it because it would weaken the president’s power and could make it more difficult to negotiate with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan on matters such as the NATO ally’s purchase of the missile system and fighting in Syria.

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Other senators strongly disagreed. Many lawmakers, Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, are angry about Turkey’s S-400 purchase, which they see as a threat to NATO systems. They are also furious about Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria, who until recently were fighting alongside American forces against ISIS militants.

“This is not some minor dustup with this country. This is a drift by this country, Turkey, to go an entirely different direction than what they have in the past,” Risch said.

“They’ve thumbed their nose at us, and they’ve thumbed their nose at their other NATO allies,” he said.

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