Jerusalem - The Middle East Newsline newsletter has uncovered a U.S. State Department which documents that it has detected Syrian efforts to bypass U.S. sanctions imposed on Damascus over the last decade.
In that report, the department's inspector-general said the U.S. embassy foiled several of these Syrian attempts.
"The United States also was able to thwart several Syrian attempts to evade sanctions, thanks to timely embassy warnings," the report, titled "Report of Inspection," said.
These efforts included the use of Arab and European companies to acquire dual-use items from the United States and other Western countries.
In 2003, Congress imposed sanctions designed to ban dual-use exports to Syria. Since then, the White House has occasionally waived provisions in a move that allowed U.S. companies to develop energy resources in Syria, which appears on the State Department's list of terrorist sponsors.
"Reporting on economic sanctions, and the government of Syria's attempts to circumvent them, was superb," the report by deputy inspector-general Harold Geisel said.
The U.S. State Department said U.S. enforcement of sanctions on Syria has been muddled under the administration of President Barack Obama. The report said U.S. diplomats have failed to receive guidance on whether sanctions should be enforced or waived amid Washington's new policy of reconciliation with Damascus.
"The most immediate issue requiring greater clarity concerns economic sanctions," the report said. "There is no front-channel guidance on the issue."
Over the last six months, the administration has approved U.S. exports to Damascus that appear to violate the 2003 sanctions. They include the transfer of Internet technology as well as the sale of aircraft parts.
The report, dated March 2010, said the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs must launch an interagency review of U.S. sanctions on Syria. Such a review must provide the U.S. embassy in Damascus with guidelines on sanctions and potential waivers.
"The inspection team reviewed e-mail and informal traffic regarding sanctions and waiver policy, and found several areas in which the guidance appeared to be contradictory," the report said. "There also was inadequate guidance regarding how embassy officers should advise potential U.S. exporters of sanctions and possible waivers."
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