Tag Archives: punishing

Trump Admin Fights Bill Punishing Turkey for Its Russian Deal

Trump Admin Fights Bill Punishing Turkey for Its Russian DealIn a detailed memo to senators, the Trump administration is fighting a bill that would punish Turkey for buying Russian missiles, arguing it would drive the countries closer together. Of note, Team Trump opposes a provision in the bill that would help Syrian Kurdish refugees immigrate to the United States. The case is laid out in a seven-page document obtained by The Daily Beast. The memo was sent by the State Department to Capitol Hill ahead of the Senate mark-up of a bill co-sponsored by Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) titled “Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act.” That legislation, which passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee despite Team Trump’s opposition, would sanction Turkey for buying Russian surface-to-air missiles and would bar the U.S. from selling Turkey F-16 or F-35 fighter jets, including parts, until the country has fully abandoned the S-400 missile defense system it purchased from Russia. Aykan Erdemir of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies argued that the administration’s opposition to the bill is useful for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.“This would definitely encourage Erdogan to continue his transgressions,” Erdemir said. Are Impeachment Hearings Focused on the Wrong Country?The bill to punish Turkey comes in the wake of a sanctions package that passed after Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. The “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) mandated sanctions on countries that make major new purchases of Russian weapons. But despite the fact that Turkey’s deal with Russia fits the bill, the administration hasn’t imposed sanctions—enraging members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Aaron Stein of the Foreign Policy Research Institute said the document sheds new light on the Trump administration’s opposition to the Hill’s sanctions. “It’s in far more detail than we’ve ever gotten,” Stein said. “They are legitimate criticisms of the bill, but the bill is probably going to happen because Donald Trump won’t take the deal. The art of the deal, the master of the deal is an effing moron. The thing to do is impose CAATSA and make this go away. It’s just that simple.” In the seven-page description of the Trump administration’s views—published below—the administration detailed a host of problems with the legislation. The administration argued that the legislation would “effectively terminate U.S.-Turkey defense trade,” which would increase Turkey’s reliance on Russia or “other adversary arms providers” for weapons. The bill would also “treat Turkey as a pariah in NATO, feeding a narrative that the Russian Federation would likely seek to amplify and exploit.” A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. government wants to keep the NATO relationship strong.“NATO is stronger with Turkey as a member, and has been for nearly 70 years,” the spokesperson said. “Turkey has been a significant contributor to NATO collective security for decades. One of Russia’s key strategic goals is to drive a wedge between NATO members; we are working to maintain strong cooperation within the Alliance. We remain deeply concerned with Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile system, and stress the S-400 and F-35 cannot coexist. We will continue to urge Turkey to ensure its defense investments adhere to the commitment all Allies made to pursue NATO interoperability.”The document also said the administration “opposes” a provision of the bill that would help Kurdish allies come to the U.S. as refugees more quickly. “The President has been clear on this Administration’s approach to refugees as reflected in the National Security Strategy of the United States,” the document says. The State Department document also raises concerns about a provision of the bill that would give Kurds access to Special Immigrant Visas—normally used to authorize travel to the U.S. for Iraqi and Afghan translators who faced retaliation because they helped American soldiers. According to the letter, the nine-month processing time for those visas is too short “to accommodate vital national security screening.” Kurdish fighters under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces—which Turkey considers a terrorist group—fought side-by-side with U.S. special operations forces against ISIS in Syria and helped retake vast swaths of the country from the jihadist caliphate, including its former capital in Raqqa. But in October, Turkish forces invaded SDF-held territory in northern Syria after Trump pulled U.S. troops away from that part of the country. Human rights groups alleged that Turkish troops and allied Syrian militias committed war crimes against Kurdish civilians, leaving lawmakers furious. The Senate bill also includes sanctions against Halkbank, a Turkish bank accused of participating in a multi-billion-dollar sanctions-evasion operation on behalf of the Iranian government. Though the Trump administration already has the authority to level sanctions against Halkbank, it hasn’t done so—perplexing many observers of Trump’s Iran policy. The Justice Department, however, has charged Halkbank with helping Iran illegally access billions of dollars. And the chief of the DOJ’s National Security Division, John Demers, called it “one of the most serious Iran sanctions violations we have seen.” In just about every other instance, the Trump administration has taken an aggressive approach to enforcing Iran sanctions and targeting Tehran. The administration even declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to be a terrorist group earlier this year, which fed into acute tensions simmering in the Gulf. So the administration’s reticence on Halkbank is striking. Inside Trump’s Brewing Turkey Scandal, Starring Rudy GiulianiThe president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has done legal work for Reza Zarrab, a gold trader who pleaded guilty to participating in the sanctions-dodging scheme that allegedly involved Halkbank. Giuliani worked hard to keep Zarrab from having to make that plea; he reportedly pushed the Trump administration to send Zarrab back to Turkey as part of a prisoner swap. The bid failed, and Zarrab’s testimony about the sanctions-evasion scheme proved valuable to prosecutors.The Trump administration’s comments to Congress only gave boilerplate language opposing Congressional sanctions on the controversial bank. “[T]he sanctions on Halkbank are unnecessary because the Department of Treasury already possesses the authority to designate Halkbank, if appropriate,” the document said. “Purporting to require the President to impose sanctions on Halkbank, constrains the President’s authority to conduct foreign relations.” Erdemir, who helms the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ program on Turkey, said the administration’s opposition to mandated sanctions on Halkbank sends a message that would please Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “This is not just Erdogan and this one bank,” he said. “Overall, this would undermine U.S. sanctions because other entities and other governments would say, ‘OK, if Erdogan and Turkey and Halkbank can enjoy some level of impunity, maybe we can too.’” Overall, the document reflects the administration’s accommodative attitude toward Turkey. “They bet on Trump,” Stein said of the Erdogan government. “Their bet is paying off in the short term.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Trump Admin Fights Bill Punishing Turkey for Its Russian Deal

Trump Admin Fights Bill Punishing Turkey for Its Russian DealIn a detailed memo to senators, the Trump administration is fighting a bill that would punish Turkey for buying Russian missiles, arguing it would drive the countries closer together. Of note, Team Trump opposes a provision in the bill that would help Syrian Kurdish refugees immigrate to the United States. The case is laid out in a seven-page document obtained by The Daily Beast. The memo was sent by the State Department to Capitol Hill ahead of the Senate mark-up of a bill co-sponsored by Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) titled “Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act.” That legislation, which passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee despite Team Trump’s opposition, would sanction Turkey for buying Russian surface-to-air missiles and would bar the U.S. from selling Turkey F-16 or F-35 fighter jets, including parts, until the country has fully abandoned the S-400 missile defense system it purchased from Russia. Aykan Erdemir of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies argued that the administration’s opposition to the bill is useful for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.“This would definitely encourage Erdogan to continue his transgressions,” Erdemir said. Are Impeachment Hearings Focused on the Wrong Country?The bill to punish Turkey comes in the wake of a sanctions package that passed after Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. The “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) mandated sanctions on countries that make major new purchases of Russian weapons. But despite the fact that Turkey’s deal with Russia fits the bill, the administration hasn’t imposed sanctions—enraging members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Aaron Stein of the Foreign Policy Research Institute said the document sheds new light on the Trump administration’s opposition to the Hill’s sanctions. “It’s in far more detail than we’ve ever gotten,” Stein said. “They are legitimate criticisms of the bill, but the bill is probably going to happen because Donald Trump won’t take the deal. The art of the deal, the master of the deal is an effing moron. The thing to do is impose CAATSA and make this go away. It’s just that simple.” In the seven-page description of the Trump administration’s views—published below—the administration detailed a host of problems with the legislation. The administration argued that the legislation would “effectively terminate U.S.-Turkey defense trade,” which would increase Turkey’s reliance on Russia or “other adversary arms providers” for weapons. The bill would also “treat Turkey as a pariah in NATO, feeding a narrative that the Russian Federation would likely seek to amplify and exploit.” A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. government wants to keep the NATO relationship strong.“NATO is stronger with Turkey as a member, and has been for nearly 70 years,” the spokesperson said. “Turkey has been a significant contributor to NATO collective security for decades. One of Russia’s key strategic goals is to drive a wedge between NATO members; we are working to maintain strong cooperation within the Alliance. We remain deeply concerned with Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile system, and stress the S-400 and F-35 cannot coexist. We will continue to urge Turkey to ensure its defense investments adhere to the commitment all Allies made to pursue NATO interoperability.”The document also said the administration “opposes” a provision of the bill that would help Kurdish allies come to the U.S. as refugees more quickly. “The President has been clear on this Administration’s approach to refugees as reflected in the National Security Strategy of the United States,” the document says. The State Department document also raises concerns about a provision of the bill that would give Kurds access to Special Immigrant Visas—normally used to authorize travel to the U.S. for Iraqi and Afghan translators who faced retaliation because they helped American soldiers. According to the letter, the nine-month processing time for those visas is too short “to accommodate vital national security screening.” Kurdish fighters under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces—which Turkey considers a terrorist group—fought side-by-side with U.S. special operations forces against ISIS in Syria and helped retake vast swaths of the country from the jihadist caliphate, including its former capital in Raqqa. But in October, Turkish forces invaded SDF-held territory in northern Syria after Trump pulled U.S. troops away from that part of the country. Human rights groups alleged that Turkish troops and allied Syrian militias committed war crimes against Kurdish civilians, leaving lawmakers furious. The Senate bill also includes sanctions against Halkbank, a Turkish bank accused of participating in a multi-billion-dollar sanctions-evasion operation on behalf of the Iranian government. Though the Trump administration already has the authority to level sanctions against Halkbank, it hasn’t done so—perplexing many observers of Trump’s Iran policy. The Justice Department, however, has charged Halkbank with helping Iran illegally access billions of dollars. And the chief of the DOJ’s National Security Division, John Demers, called it “one of the most serious Iran sanctions violations we have seen.” In just about every other instance, the Trump administration has taken an aggressive approach to enforcing Iran sanctions and targeting Tehran. The administration even declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to be a terrorist group earlier this year, which fed into acute tensions simmering in the Gulf. So the administration’s reticence on Halkbank is striking. Inside Trump’s Brewing Turkey Scandal, Starring Rudy GiulianiThe president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has done legal work for Reza Zarrab, a gold trader who pleaded guilty to participating in the sanctions-dodging scheme that allegedly involved Halkbank. Giuliani worked hard to keep Zarrab from having to make that plea; he reportedly pushed the Trump administration to send Zarrab back to Turkey as part of a prisoner swap. The bid failed, and Zarrab’s testimony about the sanctions-evasion scheme proved valuable to prosecutors.The Trump administration’s comments to Congress only gave boilerplate language opposing Congressional sanctions on the controversial bank. “[T]he sanctions on Halkbank are unnecessary because the Department of Treasury already possesses the authority to designate Halkbank, if appropriate,” the document said. “Purporting to require the President to impose sanctions on Halkbank, constrains the President’s authority to conduct foreign relations.” Erdemir, who helms the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ program on Turkey, said the administration’s opposition to mandated sanctions on Halkbank sends a message that would please Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “This is not just Erdogan and this one bank,” he said. “Overall, this would undermine U.S. sanctions because other entities and other governments would say, ‘OK, if Erdogan and Turkey and Halkbank can enjoy some level of impunity, maybe we can too.’” Overall, the document reflects the administration’s accommodative attitude toward Turkey. “They bet on Trump,” Stein said of the Erdogan government. “Their bet is paying off in the short term.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Photos show the destruction Hurricane Dorian has caused in the Bahamas from a punishing storm surge, up to 30 inches of rain, and 185 mph winds

Photos show the destruction Hurricane Dorian has caused in the Bahamas from a punishing storm surge, up to 30 inches of rain, and 185 mph windsHurricane Dorian stalled over the Bahamas on Tuesday morning. Photos show the damage and flooding it's caused the islands.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

'Bomb cyclone' winter storm moves east after punishing Colorado

'Bomb cyclone' winter storm moves east after punishing ColoradoDENVER (Reuters) – A powerful late-winter blizzard dubbed a "bomb cyclone" by meteorologists moved east on Thursday, hurling hurricane-force winds, tornadoes after dumping heavy snow on Colorado and the plains states and killing a state trooper.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Punishing U.S. sanctions against Iran kick in Sunday

Punishing U.S. sanctions against Iran kick in SundayPunishing new U.S. sanctions against Iran take effect this weekend. The measures are aimed at quashing the Islamic republic's nuclear ambitions, as well as its missile programs and influence in Syria. Elizabeth Palmer reports from Tehran.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Georgia Lawmakers Pass Bill Punishing Delta For Cutting Ties With NRA

Georgia Lawmakers Pass Bill Punishing Delta For Cutting Ties With NRAGeorgia lawmakers passed a bill on Thursday effectively punishing Delta Air Lines for its decision to cut ties with the National Rifle Association in the wake of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The state’s House and Senate passed a major a tax bill, which Republican lawmakers had amended to remove a sales tax exemption on jet fuel, The Associated Press reported. Delta, which is based in Atlanta, would have been the primary airline to benefit from the exemption.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Trump's New Medicaid Rules Aren't About Empowering People. They're About Punishing The Poor.

Trump's New Medicaid Rules Aren't About Empowering People. They're About Punishing The Poor.President Donald Trump’s administration has provided states with a new weapon to exact revenge on lazy poor people who have the temerity to be on the losing end of the American economy and also sometimes need to go to the doctor.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Iraq collectively punishing Islamic State families: rights group

Iraq collectively punishing Islamic State families: rights groupHuman Rights Watch accused Iraqi security forces on Thursday of forcibly relocating at least 170 families of alleged Islamic State members to a closed “rehabilitation camp” as a form of collective punishment. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced victory over Islamic State in Mosul on Monday, three years after the militants seized the city and made it the stronghold of a “caliphate” they said would take over the world. Iraq’s government now faces the task of preventing revenge attacks against people associated with Islamic State that could, along with Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian tensions, undermine efforts to create long-term stability in the country.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

China praises courts for punishing state security crimes

China praises courts for punishing state security crimesBEIJING (AP) — The convictions of a prominent defense attorney and his associates were among the country's top legal achievements last year, China's chief justice said Sunday, highlighting a case that has been criticized by Western governments and rights groups.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines