WASHINGTON, DC – With a vote of 18-4, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today adopted S.2641, a powerful, bipartisan Turkey sanctions bill spearheaded by Chairman Risch (R-ID) and Ranking Democrat Robert Menendez (D-NJ), reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“Today’s overwhelming Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote to sanction Turkey – much like the near-unanimous U.S. House vote adopting the Armenian Genocide Resolution – speaks to just how ready Senators – left, right, and center – are ready to do the right thing and override Ankara’s veto against honest American remembrance of Turkey’s World War I-era mass murder of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites and other Christians,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “With Christmas around the corner, it would certainly hold special meaning for the Senate to end this year with a fitting tribute to the Christian martyrs of this crime against all humanity.”
The ANCA has been working closing with the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and a coalition of groups in support of a broad range of Senate and House Turkey sanctions measures. On October 29th, in addition to near-unanimous passage H.Res.296, the Armenian Genocide Resolution, the U.S. House also overwhelmingly adopted a Turkey sanctions measure (H.R.4695), led by House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Ranking Republican Michael McCaul (R-TX).
“Turkey’s actions over the past year are truly beyond the pale,” tweeted Senator Menendez following Committee passage of the measure. “This bill makes clear to Turkey that its behavior with respect to Syria is unacceptable, and its purchase of the S400 system is untenable.”
The sanctions bill affirms that: “Turkey’s military invasion of Northeast Syria is an unacceptable and unnecessary escalation of tensions with the potential to cause a severe humanitarian crisis and undo the collective gains made in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by the United States and the 81 countries and organizations of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, including NATO and the European Union (EU). It also underscores that: “targeted sanctions against Turkey are an appropriate response in order for Turkey to be held accountable for its military offensive in Northeast Syria.”
S.2641 calls for restrictions on U.S. arms sales to Turkey which may be used in its offensive in northern Syria, and requires U.S. opposition to loans to Turkey from international financial institutions. The measure also calls for the enforcement of the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) against Turkey over its recent purchase of Russian S–400 air and missile defense systems.
During Committee consideration of the measure, Senator Rand Paul (R-KS) initially blocked consideration of the measure, but later withdrew his opposition, allowing the measure to pass by the overwhelming bi-partisan margin.
During his remarks in support of the Turkey sanctions measure, Sen. Menendez also called for passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.Res.150), noting that the U.S. should stop being intimidated by Turkey. Sen. Menendez, who along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is leading the charge for Senate passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution, pledged last week to issue a call for “unanimous consent” for S.Res.150 on a weekly basis until the measure is adopted. “I just want my colleagues to know that I intend to come once a week to the Senate floor, and all those who want to be listed on the wrong side of history, they have the option of doing so,” vowed Menendez. “I’m not going to cease until we do what is morally and principally right—and that is recognize the Armenian Genocide, as a host of other nations have, as well.”