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Senate Republicans are Scheming to Pass Sanctions Against Turkey

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Tensions with Turkey are mounting after President Donald Trump decided to withdraw troops from Northern Syria.

In response to this move, the Democratic-controlled house decided to vote for sanctions against Turkey, which has been sending its own troops into the region.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the White House on Thursday, November 14, 2019. Trump received him well, whereas elected officials on both sides of the aisle gave Erdogan a cold response.

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“It was certainly not a good time, at least, for Mr. Erdogan to be at the White House,” said Senator Mitt Romney, a passionate Trump critic. Romney called for “a series of actions sanctioning Turkey for going against the interests of our country and our ally, the Kurds.”

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Senator John Cornyn added, “Erdogan’s been consistently bad news for the people of Turkey and NATO. So I’m concerned about it. I think [sanctions] are likely.” Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has remained cautious about sanctioning Turkey for now but told reporters on Thursday that the subject is still being discussed by Senators.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch is holding off on sanctions for the time being. He hopes that the U.S. can reach an agreement with Turkey over the country’s recent purchase of Russian S-400 missiles, which is expected to activate economic penalties from the United States. However, he also said that this committee will prepare a sanctions bill in the meantime, and put the ball in McConnell’s court.

“Probably it’s best we don’t pass a sanctions bill at this moment,” Risch said, encouraging the use of diplomacy between Erdogan and Trump instead.

“It’s appropriate to put pressure on them to do the right thing, not just with regard to the Kurds, with regard to Syria generally,” added Senator Rob Portman. “The Russian anti-aircraft system that they’re on board with makes it very hard for us to treat them as a normal NATO ally.”

Trump expects the ceasefire between the Kurds and Turkey to continue, but other Senate Republicans aren’t so optimistic.

“Erdogan’s probably going to move against Kobani, which is a traditional majority-Kurdish city,” Senator Marco Rubio speculated. “The last US troops in that area finally left, it took them two weeks to break down and move. And I think he’s going to view that as a chance to come in and grab that city. … That’s going to probably scramble all of this stuff again.”

Trump is handling this situation with a diplomatic calm that his neoconservative and neoliberal predecessors generally did not exercise.

Unlike previous governments, Trump isn’t taking cues from defense contractors and is using tough diplomacy to advance U.S. interests and keep it out of foreign policy quagmires. For American First supporters, Trump’s approach to foreign policy isn’t ideal, but he has at least kept the country from entering new conflicts.

Big League Guns

Democrats Introduce Expanded Background Check Legislation

Democrats are going to implement a background check which targets “extremism.”

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Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy and California Congressman Mike Thompson brought forward legislation on March 2, 2021 that aims to broaden the federal background check system on firearms sales, according to a report by The Hill.

Under The Background Check Expansion Act,  gun sales and purchases between all unlicensed sellers and buyers would be subject to a mandatory background check. The background checks would not be applicable for law enforcement officers, lending out firearms for the purpose of hunting, temporary transfers for self-defense, or family members gifting a firearm. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and 43 Senate Democrats have co-sponsored this bill. Thompson, who is the chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, reintroduced this legislation in the U.S. House

“For years, the bipartisan House-passed background checks bill languished in the Senate under Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Now, with Senate Democrats in the Majority, we have the opportunity to act on this overwhelmingly popular, lifesaving legislation to protect American communities,” Schumer declared in a press release.

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According to a CBS News report, President Joe Biden has repeatedly called on Congress to pass stiffer gun control laws. This gun control bill will not pass so easily given how it will need 10 Republican senators to vote in favor of it.

Against the backdrop of the January 6 storming of the Capitol, such a background check will likely feature provisions that target so-called “extremists.” The ruling class has routinely lumped average gun owners with domestic extremists and will most certainly use recent events to justify encroachments on people’s right to bear arms. 

Biden is a veteran of the gun control movement, as evidenced by his sponsorship of the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 and the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. With Democrats in control of all branches of the federal government, they will certainly move to pass gun control. However, their success is not guaranteed due to moderate Democrats like Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia Joe Manchin not being completely receptive to radical gun control that could alienate them from their more right-wing constituents.

Nevertheless, the Left has shown that it’s willing to act regardless of the political context. Keeping this in mind, gun owners must be ready to beat back any kind of gun control coming from D.C. Such fights will allow the Right to rebuild its forces and make a splash in the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential race. 

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