President Donald Trump prepared possible sanctions against Turkey on Friday, warning the country against further violence against the Kurds in Syria.
“The president is concerned about the ongoing military offensive and the potential targeting of civilians, civilian infrastructure, ethnic or religious minorities,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said to reporters at the White House.
Mnuchin confirmed that Trump would sign an executive order authorizing “very significant” sanctions against Turkey but that no sanctions would be leveled at this time.
Trump continues to face bipartisan criticism from the foreign policy establishment for not taking action after Turkey began waging war on Monday against the Kurds near their border. The president said he was also concerned about Turkey’s ability to detain Islamic State (ISIS) fighters.
“The president wants to make clear that it is imperative that Turkey not allow a single ISIS fighter to escape,” he said.
Mnuchin said that the Department of Defense and the State Department would continue to monitor the Turkey military action for any humanitarian violations.
“These are very powerful sanctions; we hope that we don’t have to use them, but we can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to,” he said.
Currently, members of Congress are discussing leveling their own economic sanctions on Turkey in response to their military incursions into Syria, but it is unclear whether Trump’s announcement will satisfy them.