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US Treasury official tells 3 Middle East countries to adhere to sanctions or lose US market

January 28, 2023 at 11:11 am

Brian Nelson, US Treasury under secretary for terrorism in Washington DC on 22 June, 2021 [Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

The US Treasury Department’s senior sanctions official, Brian Nelson, will be warning countries and businesses during a trip to the Middle East next week that they could lose access to the US market if they do business with entities subject to US sanctions and restrictions. This comes in addition to Washington cracking down on attempts by Russia to avoid sanctions imposed on it due to its war in Ukraine.

Nelson, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will travel to Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkiye from 29 January to 3 February. He will meet with government officials, businesses and financial institutions to stress that Washington will continue to firmly enforce the law, according to a statement made by a Treasury spokesperson to Reuters.

The spokesperson shared: “Individuals and institutions operating in permissive jurisdictions risk potentially losing access to US markets on account of doing business with sanctioned entities or not conducting appropriate due diligence.”

During his visit to the region, Nelson will discuss the Treasury’s efforts to contain Russian efforts to evade sanctions and export controls imposed as a result of its war against Ukraine, as well as Iran’s destabilising actions in the area, illegal funding that threatens to undermine economic growth and foreign investment.

This is the most recent visit a senior Treasury official makes to Turkiye to discuss sanctions after a string of warnings made by Treasury officials last year, as Washington intensified its pressures on Ankara to guarantee it upholds US restrictions imposed on Russia.

READ: US sanctions Lebanon money exchanger for alleged ties to Hezbollah

Nelson’s trip coincides with a period of tense ties between the US and Turkiye as the two NATO allies disagree over several issues. Nelson will visit the Turkish capital, Ankara, and the financial hub Istanbul between 2-3 February. The Treasury spokesperson indicated that he would be warning companies and banks to avoid transactions related to potential dual-use technology transfers that the Russian army could ultimately be using and that could have commercial and military applications.

Washington and its allies have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Moscow since the invasion that has killed and wounded thousands and turned Ukrainian cities into ruins. Turkiye condemned the Russian invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine. However, it also opposes Western sanctions on Russia and has increased trade and tourism with Russia.

Some Turkish companies bought or sought to buy Russian assets from Western partners who withdrew from them due to the sanctions. Meanwhile, others maintained their large assets in the country. However, Ankara pledged not to evade international sanctions.

Last month, the US imposed sanctions on a prominent Turkish businessperson Sitki Ayan and his network of firms after the US accused him of acting as a facilitator for oil sales and money laundering on behalf of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.