U.S. Prepares to Designate Eritrea as State Sponsor of Terrorism

Posted by at 2:27 pm on August 17, 2007
Category: Sanctions

Eritrean StampDuring a briefing held today Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jindayi Frazer announced that the United States is preparing to designate Eritrea as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” Such a designation would be made under the provisions of 50 U.S.C. App. 2405(j), which requires a finding that a country “has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”

The U.S. intends to base its argument for designation of Eritrea as a state sponsor of terrorism on a July 18 report of the United Nations that found that “huge quantities of arms” have been provided Al-Qaeda linked groups in Somalia “by and through Eritrea.” These arms “include an unknown number of surface-to-air missiles, suicide belts, and explosives with timers and detonators.”

If designated, Eritrea would join the list of state sponsors of terrorism that currently is comprised by Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. Designation would automatically result in an arms embargo against Eritrea pursuant to section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2780. It could also serve as a justification of a ban on imports from, and exports to, Eritrea.

Imposition of an arms embargo and/or comprehensive sanctions, including bans on imports and exports, would probably have minimal effect on U.S. exporters — or on Eritrea, for that matter. The Section 655 report for 2006 shows no licenses granted for shipments of arms to Eritrea. Other trade between Eritrea and the United States is small, which is not surprising given that Eritrea’s economy is overwhelmingly based on subsistence agriculture. Exports from the United States to Eritrea in 2006 were valued at $8,848,000. Imports from Eritrea to the United States in 2006 were even less and were valued at $858,000.

One area in which sanctions might be effective would be in cash remittances. The State Department estimates that currently 32% of the GDP of Eritrea is provided by overseas workers remitting cash back to their families and relatives in Eritrea. And a large number of Eritreans live in the United States. So, if Eritrea is designated and sanctions are imposed, my guess is that we will see prohibitions on cash remittances to Eritrea.


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Copyright © 2007 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
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I’m sorry, but has no one noticed that the whole damnYankee statute expired years ago. Whatever claptrap you might be able to gin out of the text of TWEA 5(b) as transmuted into IEEPA 1702, you can’t get the former 50USC 2405(j) out of it, even if you hold your nose and buy the DC Districts decision in Quinn.

Comment by Mike Deal on August 17th, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

That may well be, Mike, but let me ask you this — would you be willing to recommend that a client violate the sanctions on this theory? And would you be willing to serve the jail time in place of your client if there’s a criminal conviction for the sanctions violation?

Comment by Clif Burns on August 17th, 2007 @ 4:03 pm

Is there any inkling whether Treasury will issue a 311 on Eritrea?

Comment by Scott K. on August 20th, 2007 @ 7:19 am

I haven’t heard any rumors of a 311 but it would be appropriate if, as seems likely, Eritrea is providing weapons to Al-Qaeda linked groups in Somalia.

Comment by Clif Burns on August 20th, 2007 @ 9:23 am

Clif: I give my clients my analysis, an assessment of risk, and then let them “pays d’er money ands takes der chances”. You may recall that when Bill Reinsch was Undersecretary, he told the anecdote about the export of an aircraft carrier to India without a license? I gave the opinion (supported by case law on the definition of scrap) that the export of the hulk of the ex-USS Bennington was an export of scrap, got the Navy to sign a certificate that said hulk was of no value other for reclamation of the metal, and then signed the SED that the export of the hulk via a towboat was G-DEST. Both Customs and OEE later had questions, but I’m still here and the only time I saw Leavenworth was when I was foxhunting with the Fort Leavenworth Hunt. I was disappointed when after talking with the reporters, the Baltimore Sun didn’t quote me. As for Kenneth Timmerman and his article in American Spectator, which also failed to mention the extensive documentation I provided to him/it, my words cannot be printed here. My client, however, didn’t pay an extra cent.

That said, in this case I wouldn’t recommend an export contrary to any such order. If the stakes were large enough, or the goal sufficiently important (e.g., exporting medical devices not elgible for TSRA because they use an operating system with an encryption module that renders the darn thing 5D002); I would recommend however, filing of an action for declaratory judgment. Neither the Times Mirror case not the Wisconsin project case were brought by exporters with any thing at stake (and we all know that the Wisconsin Project does its dead level best to keep the US from exporting anything), and the plaintiffs in both cases conceded the validity of continuing the EAR under IEEPA, because they had no dawg in the fight. Therefore, those cases have little precedential value and should be restricted to their facts. The government realized this when they decided not to appeal the baby-splitting decision in Quinn to the DC Circuit.

Comment by Mike Deal on August 20th, 2007 @ 2:44 pm