Help for Syria From Some Surprising Sources
(via WSJ) U.S. officials have uncovered an effort by Iran to help Syria mask its oil exports and evade an American and European embargo.
U.S. officials and shipping executives said Iran, through a Dubai-based company, Sea Enterprises Ltd., chartered a Greek-owned tanker, the Mire, to ship more than 91,000 metric tons of crude. The Mire loaded the oil from Nov. 19 to 21 at the Syrian port of Baniyas with the intention of delivering it to Iran’s Ras Bahregan oil terminal, the officials and executives said.
The Treasury Department was able to get the Mire’s insurance and registration pulled after telling company executives that the ship was carrying a product sanctioned by the U.S. and EU.
The Mire, like many international oil tankers, uses American insurance, is registered in Liberia and flies under a Liberian flag. The Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry ordered the Mire’s owners to desist from delivering the oil to Iran, said Scott Bergeron, CEO of the Liberian company. But the owners ignored the order and discharged the shipment in Iran before eventually returning to the United Arab Emirates.
Liberia issued a notice of violation against the Mire’s owner, Eurotankers Inc. of Greece, in accordance with Liberian civil-penalty procedures. The company declined to comment.
The bloodshed continues, the Arab League observers are coming to the end of their tour – under the constant barrage of complaints that their observations are not also offering any form of protection. There are reports that the Arab League might consider an extension of the current mission for a further four weeks.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8RZ6XNzpYI]
Debates on Syria’s future continue unabated, but the talk about sending Arab League troops – though they have no operational force, and would need considerably more than the estimated 3,500 troops organized under Syria [oh, the irony] back in 1948 – has quietened down a little. Al Jazeera Arabic’s poll that I posted a link to has been removed. Bassam Haddad writing in the opinion section of Al Jazeera English describes how any external military intervention would destabilise Syria, due to both intended and unintended consequences. Last word on this post surely belongs to former Syria political prisoner, released in November 2011 half way through a 12-year sentence under an al-Assad amnesty [more irony] – the dissident doctor Kamal al-Labwani:
“Time is blood now, not money. It means more victims, torture and destruction of our country.”
- Syrian Expatriates Organization outraged over the reported news that Russian shipment Loaded with ammunition reached Syrian port on Friday 2012-01-13 (prweb.com)
- Syrian tribal leader: I praised Assad at gunpoint (msnbc.msn.com)
- At Least 30 Reported Killed in New Syrian Violence – Voice of America (voanews.com)
- UN to Train Arab League’s Monitors in Syria to Do Job Better – BusinessWeek (businessweek.com)
- Syria: Arab League split over sending troops – live updates – The Guardian (guardian.co.uk)