On October 14, 2019, President Trump announced via Twitter his intention to authorize sanctions against Turkey and “any persons contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeast Syria.” The announcement followed Turkey’s recent military operation against predominately Kurdish forces in northern Syria, which began following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region. Later in the day, President Trump issued an Executive Order (the “Syria-Turkey EO”) to formally implement those sanctions. Under the Syria-Turkey EO:
- The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury is now authorized to impose blocking sanctions on any person that it determines to be: (i) responsible for or complicit in actions that threaten Syrian stability or abuse human rights, (ii) an official or agency of the Government of Turkey, or (iii) operating in sectors of the Turkish economy that the Secretary of Treasury might later decide to target with sanctions. The Syria-Turkey EO also authorizes the Treasury Secretary to impose blocking sanctions on any person (including non-U.S. persons) who provides material assistance, goods or services to or in support of any person sanctioned under the Syria-Turkey EO.
- The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to restrict or prohibit foreign financial institutions from opening or maintaining correspondent or payable through accounts in the U.S. if the Treasury Department determines that those foreign financial institutions have knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant financial transaction for or on behalf of any person who becomes subject to the above-described blocking sanctions.
- The U.S. Secretary of State is now authorized to impose menu-based sanctions on any person the Secretary determines to have interfered with peacekeeping and restorative efforts in northern Syria. These authorized menu-based sanctions include (but are not limited to): blocking sanctions, denial of U.S. entry visas and financing-based sanctions.