The emergence of jihadist units fighting in Syria against forces loyal to the government poses an immense challenge for banks utilizing U.S. Treasury Department licenses in the country, say sanctions experts. In addition to the over $183 million in non-lethal aid pledged by the United States to Syrian civilians and the Free Syrian Army, which announced its formation in July 2011, the department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued general licenses permitting remittances for humanitarian aid, education and non-commercial development projects. In March, OFAC issued a separate general license authorizing U.S. persons to export services, including money, to approved...
The Senate's Foreign Relations Committee passed legislation Tuesday that would allow the White House to impose sanctions on entities that provide petroleum products or military assistance to Syria's government.
As international pressure against Syria's crackdown on protesters mounts, efforts by financial institutions to identify transactions related to Syrian arms deals will likely prove fruitless, say analysts.
Caught between pressure from U.S. lawmakers to crack down harder on Iran and Syria and the desire to act in concert with America's allies, the White House is walking a fine line in its use of economic sanctions.