Yesterday, the U.S. government issued an Executive Order (E.O.) imposing new primary and secondary sanctions that target the government of Turkey in response to the escalating conflict in northern Syria. Pursuant to the new sanctions, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) also added the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense, and the Turkish ministers of Defense, Energy and Natural Resources, and Interior to the SDN List, formally blocking (freezing) those parties’ property and interests in property, subject to U.S. jurisdiction. Entities owned 50 percent or more, directly or indirectly, by these SDNs are also subject to blocking sanctions pursuant to OFAC’s “50 percent rule.”
While the sanctions are currently narrowly targeted, the E.O. authorizes a broad array of future possible sanctions against other parties connected to the Turkish government and companies operating in Turkey. Whether and to what extent sanctions are expanded on Turkey will depend on developments on the ground in Syria and U.S. domestic politics. Various groups, including prominent voices in Congress, are pushing the administration for more aggressive action against Turkey, which could portend an expansion of sanctions against the Ankara government.
The October 14, 2019 E.O. authorizes the U.S. government to block any person (e.g., designate that person as a Specially Designated National (SDN)) that the Secretary of the Treasury determines to:
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