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Friday, September 30, 2011

Unrest in Syria and U.S. Sanctions Against the Asad Regime

Jeremy M. Sharp
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

Christopher M. Blanchard
Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs

This report analyzes the current unrest in Syria and the U.S. response to the Syrian government’s crackdown against demonstrators. It also provides background information on U.S. sanctions against the Asad regime and its supporters.

A variety of U.S. legislative provisions and executive directives prohibit direct foreign assistance funding to Syria and restrict bilateral trade relations, largely because of the U.S. State Department’s designation of Syria as a sponsor of international terrorism. On December 12, 2003, President George W. Bush signed the Syria Accountability Act, P.L. 108-175, which imposed additional economic sanctions against Syria. Syrian individuals and government officials are subject to targeted financial sanctions pursuant to executive orders relating to terrorism, proliferation, and regional security. Successive administrations have designated several Syrian entities as weapons proliferators and sanctioned several Russian companies for alleged weapons of mass destruction or advanced weapons sales to Syria.

The following legislation introduced in the 112th Congress addresses the current situation in Syria. 

·         H.R. 2106, The Syria Freedom Support Act. Sanctions the development of petroleum resources of Syria, the production of refined petroleum products in Syria, and the exportation of refined petroleum products to Syria. 
·         H.Res. 296 (S.Res. 180 in the Senate). Expresses support for peaceful demonstrations and universal freedoms in Syria and condemns the human rights violations by the Assad Regime. 
·         H.R. 2105, The Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act of 2011. States that it shall be U.S. policy to fully implement and enforce sanctions against Iran, North Korea, and Syria for their proliferation activities and policies. 
·         S. 1048, The Iran, North Korea, and Syria Sanctions Consolidation Act of 2011. Amends the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act to include in the scope of such act a person that (1) acquired materials mined or extracted within North Korea’s territory or control; or (2) provided shipping services for the transportation of goods to or from Iran, North Korea, or Syria relating to such countries’ weapons of mass destruction programs, support for acts of international terrorism, or human rights abuses. Excludes from such provisions shipping services for emergency or humanitarian purposes. 
·         S. 1472, The Syria Sanctions Act of 2011. Denies companies that conduct business in Syria’s energy sector (investment, oil purchases, and sale of gasoline) access to U.S. financial institutions and requires federal contractors to certify that they are not engaged in sanctionable activity.

Date of Report: September 22, 2011
Number of Pages: 24
Order Number: RL33487
Price: $29.95

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