Mnuchin Defends Inaction On ‘Complicated Situation’ In Syria. Congress Asks ‘For God’s Sake, What Are They Waiting For?’

Steve Mnuchin was at pains on Sunday to explain why, exactly, Treasury hasn’t yet pulled the trigger on sanctions against Turkey amid an ongoing massacre in northern Syria.

“Let me just say this is a complicated, developing situation. You have a NATO ally on one hand fighting against the Kurds who were helping us with the fight against ISIS”, he told ABC’s Jon Karl.

“We are in daily communications with Turkey, both at the Defense Department, the State Department, on very specific issues”, he added. “We are ready to go”.

Read more: Trump Orders Full Retreat Of 1,000 US Troops In Northern Syria As Turkey Plans Wider Invasion, Esper Tells CBS

On Friday, Mnuchin said Trump will sign an executive order giving Treasury the power to hit Turkish officials with sanctions if Erdogan targets ethnic and religious minorities. He also said it’s critical that Turkey not let “even a single” ISIS fighter escape from prisons in the area.

In the 48 hours since, Turkey-backed militias have executed a Kurdish politician and shot at least one bound prisoner on a roadside. All of it was caught on camera by the gunmen. There are myriad accounts of ISIS prisoners escaping from SDF-controlled camps amid the melee.

Asked why Donald Trump suggested last week that the Kurds should have helped the US during D-Day, Mnuchin clearly wanted to respond that he hadn’t the faintest, but managed the following instead: “No, I think the analogy is that everybody is saying ‘We’re abandoning the Kurds’ like the Kurds are these long-standing allies – our role in Syria is not to defend land for the Kurds”.


“This isn’t Russia attacking the Kurds, this is a NATO ally”, Mnuchin went on to remark.

The timing of that trial balloon left something to be desired. Just as the Treasury secretary’s comments were hitting the airwaves, Mark Esper told CBS that the SDF might be on the verge of striking a “deal” with Russia to help push back the Turkish offensive.

“The president has authorized me to effectively shut down the entire Turkey economy and we can do that at a moment’s notice”, he went on to insist.

For his part, Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen – who’s co-sponsoring sanctions legislation with Lindsay Graham – has just one question.

“For God’s sake, what are they waiting for?”, he asked, during a Fox interview on Sunday.


“People are being killed right now”, he added.


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