The White House, hoping to speak loudly and to shake a big stick, issued today an executive order imposing yet another round of sanctions on Syria. Although exports of goods to Syria have been prohibited since the passage of the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, this new round prohibits, among other things, the exportation of services to Syria.
The new Executive Order does not define “exportation of services,” but this term has previously been defined by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) in connection with other sanctions regulations. Section 560.410 of the Iranian Transaction Regulations defines the exportation of services as the provision of services in the United States or outside the United States by a United states person where the benefit is received in Iran. If any services are provided to the Government of Iran, the benefit of those services is presumed to be received in Iran.
Presumably this same definition will be adopted to apply to Syria. This will broadly prevent, for example, a U.S. person from being employed, with or without compensation, in Syria. A U.S. travel agency cannot book flights to, or hotel rooms in, Syria. A U.S. Law firm cannot provide legal advice to a French company doing business in Syria. Provision of a Twitter account or other social networking services by a U.S. Company to a Syrian will violate the new order. Whether typical exceptions that permit many of these activities in other sanctioned countries remains to be seen.