Bipartisan Risch-Menendez bill aims to hold Turkey accountable for actions in Syria
Washington, D.C. - Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today announced they are partnering to introduce new comprehensive legislation in response to Turkey’s military incursion into northern Syria and attack on America’s partners in northeast Syria, including the Kurds.
The bipartisan legislation, which will be introduced soon, will require the administration to produce a strategy to defend our hard-won gains against ISIS and prevent a resurgence in Syria and Iraq, authorize humanitarian assistance for Syrian civilians, restrict arm sales to Turkey, and impose new biting sanctions against Turkey and Russia. The senators’ effort comes as the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) last night introduced Syria-Turkey legislation in the House of Representatives.
“This bipartisan legislation is meant to confront the instability being sown in the Middle East by President Erdogan,” said Risch. “For decades Turkey has been a strong ally, but Erdogan’s aggressive actions are destabilizing Syria, and are a gift to the malign interests of Russia, Iran, and ISIS and its affiliates in the region. The Syrian Kurds have been critical partners to the U.S. and our allies as we have worked to counter ISIS and other terrorist activities in Syria, and we should continue this partnership. Additionally, Turkey’s incursion has worsened an already devastating humanitarian situation in Syria, and I fear this will exacerbate the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds for years to come. I am glad to have worked with Senator Menendez and his staff on this bill and believe this is an important step to help address these actions.
“I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan, bicameral effort by the leadership of the Congressional committees tasked with ensuring a robust American foreign policy that champions the values of democracy, peace, and the preservation of our national security,” said Menendez. “Our forthcoming legislation will address Turkey’s brutal incursion into Northeastern Syria, but also require the Trump administration chart a path forward for our nation’s efforts to counter ISIS and address our most pressing national security needs in the middle east. As the devastating consequences of withdrawing our troops from Northeastern Syria start becoming clearer, there’s no doubt that sanctions against Turkey to date – while justified – have had no impact on Erdogan or his brutal incursion. We need comprehensive legislation and that is precisely what we will be pursuing in the coming days.”
Key provisions of the senators’ legislation include:
• Requires a comprehensive strategy to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS, including plans for ISIS detainees and humanitarian assistance. Strategy includes required reports on Russian and Iranian influence in Syria, and the ability of ISIS to reconstitute, among other reports.
Humanitarian Assistance and Protection:
• Required report on Turkish incursion into Syria, and conditions of humanitarian access, assistance and civilian protection
• Authorization of humanitarian assistance for Syrian civilians
• Report on potential Turkish war crimes during the Syrian incursion
Sanctions and Arms Prohibition for Turkey:
• Restrictions on arms sales to Turkey for Syria
• Sanctions against senior Turkish officials
• Sanctions against persons providing arms to Turkish forces in Syria
• Directs president to oppose loans to Turkey from international finance institutions
• Report on Turkey’s participation in NATO
Sanctions Against Russia for Malign Behavior in Syria:
• Sanctions with respect to Russian support for Assad