Spring 2011] RETHINKING THE SY RIA ACCOUNTABILITY ACT 241
Furthermore, the United States placed sanctions on Syria through the Syrian
Accountability and Lebanese Sovereig nty Restoration Act of 2003 (“SAA”),
the USA PATRIOT Act, and the International Emergency Economic Powers
Act (“IEEPA”).8 After the assassination of Hariri, the United States withdrew
its ambassador from Syria. 9 Despite such events, some analysts have
suggested that Syria mig ht now be in a position to “benefit from a more
advantageous regional political environment.” 10
Syria’s leadership consists of an “authoritaria n military-dominated
regime.”11 The current chief of state, Preside nt Bashar al-Assad, took office in
July 2000 after the death of his father, Haf ez al-Assad.12 The m ajor ruling
party is the socialist pan-Arab Ba’ th Party, which came to power in 1963 and
to which the al-Assad family belongs.13 The Syrian legal system is a
combination of French and Ottoman civil law, while Personal Status Courts
employ Islamic law in marriage and div orce cases.14 Majo r international
issues involving Syria include a dispu te with Israel over the Israeli-occupied
Golan Heights, the presence of well over one million Iraqi refugees in Syria,
and accusations of Syrian interference in Le banon and the destabilization of
blow-to-syrias-opponents/ (stating that the U.N. tribunal investigating the murder of Hariri had
ordered the release of four senior Lebanese officials backed by the Syrian government, thus
possibly shifting the focus of the investigation away from Syria). Saad Hariri, who at the time of
his remarks was Prime Minister of Lebanon, stated that the accusations that Syria had been
involved in the assassination were “political” and have since been withdrawn. Rafik Hariri
Inquiry: Syria Issues 33 Arrest Warrants, BBC (Oct. 4, 2010, 12:26 ET),
8 SHARP 2009, supra note 5, at 10–14; Syria Sanctions, U.S. DEP’T OF THE TREASURY,
http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/syria/syria.shtml (last visited Nov. 2,
2010); Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 [SAA], Pub. L. No.
108-175, 117 Stat. 2482 (contained within notes following 22 U.S.C. § 2151), available at
http://www.fas.org/asmp/resources/govern/108th/pl_108_175.pdf; International Emergency
Economic Powers Act of 1977 [IEEPA], 50 U.S.C. §§ 1701–07 (1977); Uniting and Strengthening
America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of
2001 [USA PATRIOT Act], Pub. L. No. 107-56, § 311, 115 Stat. 272 (codifie d in scattered sections
of the U.S. Code), available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ56/pdf/PLAW-
9 Senator Kerry: Syria Willing to Help Achieve Palestinian Unity, HAARETZ, F eb. 21, 2009
[hereinafter Syria Willing], available at http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1065843.html.
10 SHARP 2009, supra note 5, at 1.
11 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK: SYRIA, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-
factbook/geos/sy.html (last visited Nov. 2, 2010) [hereinafter CIA WORLD FACTBOOK: SYRIA].
12 Id. Currently, al-Assad is serving his second year as president. Id.
13 SHARP 2009, supra note 5, at 19 (“Barring a major governmental change, a Syrian leader would
need to enjoy the support of the Ba’th Party apparatus.”).
14 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK: SYRIA, supra note 11.
15 SHARP 2009, supra note 5, at 5–9; Tony Badran, Is the Obama Administration Fed Up with
Syria?, ACROSS THE BAY (Sept. 15, 2009, 10:32 AM),