On 29 October, the US House of Representatives passed a bill which, if implemented, would impose swingeing sanctions against some Turkish officials.
The Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act or ‘PACT’ Act ‘imposes sanctions and various restrictions related to Turkey’s military invasion of northern Syria,’ and holds that ‘[the] President shall impose visa- and asset-blocking sanctions on specific Turkish officials connected to the invasion, including Turkey’s Minister of National Defense. The Department of State shall report to the President and Congress as to (1) other Turkish officials involved with the invasion; and (2) foreign persons that knowingly provided defense articles, services, or technology to Turkey that could be used in the invasion of northern Syria. Such foreign persons shall also be subject to visa- and asset-blocking sanctions.’
It also provides that the President ‘shall impose financial sanctions on the large Turkish state-owned bank known as Halk Bankasi or Halkbank and on any financial institutions that the State Department determines to have knowingly facilitated significant transactions for the Turkish Armed Forces or Turkey’s defense industry related to the invasion,’ and calls for ‘reports on (1) the national security impact of the invasion and, (2) the net worth of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his family.’
Halkbank has recently been served with an indictment by the US Department of Justice for its alleged role in undermining sanctions against Iran.
In its response to the PACT Act, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said :
‘The draft bill, which targets our senior officials and our Armed Forces, is incompatible with the spirit of our NATO Alliance, and contradicts with the agreement reached on Syria with the U.S. Administration on 17 October.
‘The U.S. officials, who have been even disregarding the difference between an Ally country and a terrorist organization and have been carelessly legitimizing a terrorist with their rhetoric and actions in the past days, should understand that they cannot achieve anything with the threats of unilateral sanctions.
‘We urge, the U.S. Congress, not to exploit bilateral issues for domestic political consumption and to act in line with the spirit of our Alliance and partnership. We call on the U.S. Administration to take necessary steps to prevent the further deterioration of our relations.’
The Halkbank indictment is at: