The President has just extended by way of a public notice the effectiveness of the national emergency with respect to Syria declared by executive order in 2004 imposing sanctions against that country and further implemented by the seven executive orders imposing sanctions against that country since then.

Like U.S. sanctions against Iran, some but not all the prohibitions contained in these executive orders appear in OFAC’s economic sanctions regulations. Some U.S. sanctions against Syria also appear in the Export Administration Regulations administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations administered by the U.S. State Department.

As a consequence, as is the case with respect to U.S. sanctions against Iran (see our January 11, 2013, memorandum), getting a full grasp of U.S. sanctions against Syria requires a review of a number of different legal sources.

OFAC regulations, for example, prohibit –

Dealings of any kind in property or interests in property in the United States or the possession or control of U.S. persons of those the U.S. government has identified as having contributed to (i) the Syrian government’s provision of safe havens for terrorists, (ii) its presence in Lebanon, (iii) its development of weapons of mass destruction or (iv) its undermining of stability and reconstruction in Iraq. The prohibition also applies to entities owned or controlled by those the U.S. government has so identified.

The executive orders prohibit –

  1. Dealings of any kind in property or interests in property of the Syrian government if such property or interests in property are in the United States or the possession or control of a U.S. person,
  2. U.S. persons wherever located from providing goods, funds or services to or receiving goods, funds or services from the Syrian government,
  3. The export from the United States to Syria of any services or the provision by a U.S. person to Syria of any services regardless of where the U.S. person is located,
  4. U.S. persons from making any investments in Syria,
  5. The import into the United States of Syrian-origin petroleum or petroleum products,
  6. Transactions by U.S. persons wherever located involving Syrian-origin petroleum or petroleum products and
  7. U.S. persons wherever located from approving or facilitating most non- U.S. person transactions with Syria if the transaction is impermissible for a U.S. person.

The Export Administration Regulations prohibit –

The export from the United States to Syria of any goods, technology or software subject to the Regulations except for food or medicine and the reexport to Syria from third countries of such U.S.-origin goods, software or technology except for food or medicine.

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations prohibit –

  1. The export from the United States to Syria of defense articles or services or the reexport from third countries to Syria of defense articles or services previously exported from the United States and
  2. The import into the United States from Syria of defense articles or services originating in Syria.

As with all executive orders and regulations, the devil is in the details. The fact that there is no single source for every aspect of U.S. sanctions makes it all the more difficult but all the more necessary to be sure you have a complete deck of cards before attempting to assess what is or is not prohibited.