December 11, 2019

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approves Comprehensive Syria-Turkey Legislation

WASHINGTON – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today voted to approve the Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act (S.2641). The comprehensive legislation, authored by Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), is a direct congressional response to Turkey’s military incursion into northeast Syria and attack on the Kurds, as well as their purchase of the Russian S-400 defense system.

“I am glad our committee members came together today to pass bipartisan, comprehensive Turkey legislation introduced by myself and Senator Menendez,” said Chairman Risch. “This legislation will put in place a number of incentives that we hope will result in President Erdogan making the choice to walk away from the S-400. As long as the S-400s are in Turkey under Turkish control, there will be no F-35s delivered to Turkey. This is Erdogan’s choice, and he is well aware of the consequences. Additionally, Erdogan’s incursion into northeast Syria is destabilizing, and this bill will help curb any future actions that endanger our friends and partners, the Syrian Kurds, and any actions which jeopardize the U.S. strategy to defeat ISIS in Syria. I am hopeful this critical legislation will be voted on by the full Senate soon.”

“We find ourselves at an inflection point with Turkey. For years, I have been more skeptical than most about Erdogan and his orientation towards the West. But Turkey’s actions over the past year are truly beyond the pale,” said Ranking Member Menendez. “From purchasing the Russian S-400 air defense system, to engaging in offensive operations in Syria against the Kurds, and committing, directing or knowingly facilitating human rights abuses against our Kurdish allies in Syria, the Foreign Relations Committee is saying enough is enough to Erdogan with this strong sanctions package. Furthermore, we were able to add key provisions to provide affirmative support for our Kurdish partners through refugee programming and participation in a Special Immigrant Visa Program. This major recalibration of the U.S.-Turkey relationship is long overdue, and I look forward to working with Chairman Risch to ensure the full Senate can approve it without further delay.”

Key provisions of the senators’ legislation include:

Counter-ISIS:

  • Requirement of 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:

  • Sanctions against those who commit serious abuses of human rights in Syria
  • Requirement of a report on the Turkish incursion into Syria, and the conditions of humanitarian access, assistance and civilian protection
  • Authorization of humanitarian assistance for Syrian civilians
  • A report on potential Turkish war crimes during the Syrian incursion
  • Designation of Syrian Kurds and other Syrians who have worked with the United States as Priority 2 refugees of special humanitarian concern
  • Granting of special immigrant status (SIV) to Syrian Kurds and to other Syrians who worked with the US to defeat ISIS

Sanctions and Restrictions Tied to Continued Turkish Possession of the S-400:

  • Imposes CAATSA Section 231 Sanctions
  • Bars the sale or transfer of F-16s and F-35s, including related equipment, until the president certifies Turkey has divested itself of the Russian S-400

Sanctions and Other Restrictions Triggered by Turkish Malign Activities in Syria:

  • Restrictions of arms sales to Turkey likely to be used in Syria
  • Opposition to loans from International Financial Institutions to Turkey
  • Sanctions against senior Turkish officials
  • Sanctions against persons providing arms to Turkish forces in Syria
  • Sanctions against Halk Bank and Other Financial Institutions Supporting Turkish Military Operations in Syria
  • Sanctions against Turkish officials involved in serious human rights abuses in Syria
  • A report on Turkey’s participation in NATO
  • A report on Erdogan’s net worth and that of his family members

###