Merely nine days after implementing sanctions on Turkey for its military action in northeast Syria (see Trump and Trade Update of October 15, 2019), President Donald Trump announced that he was lifting those sanctions due to the continuing ceasefire along the border. The president stated that Turkey would be halting its offensive and make the ceasefire permanent. He added that since one would “define the word ‘permanent’ in that part of the world as somewhat questionable,” the sanctions would be lifted “unless something happens that we’re not happy with.”

As a result, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) removed sanctions imposed on Turkey’s Ministry of National Defence and Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, as well as on its ministers of National Defence, Energy and Natural Resources and the Interior. With their removal from the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List, all of their property and interests in property, which had been blocked as a result of the OFAC sanctions, are unblocked and all otherwise lawful transactions involving U.S. persons and these entities and individuals are no longer prohibited.

In his remarks, Trump warned, “Should Turkey fail to honor its obligations, including the protection of religious and ethnic minorities … we reserve the right to re-impose crippling sanctions, including substantially increased tariffs on steel and all other products coming out of Turkey.”