Greece & UAE shipping firms help Syria send oil to Iran


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.


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.”



Military Coup Foiled in #Bangladesh


Bangladesh’s army has foiled an attempt by former and serving officers to oust Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed’s government, a military spokesman said.

“Evidence has been unearthed that some officers in active military service have been involved in the conspiracy to topple the system of democratic governance through the army,” Brigadier General Muhammad Masud Razzaq said in a statement.

Bangladesh has had a history of military coups since its independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Hasina was elected in December 2008, ending two years of military-backed emergency rule, on a program of cutting food prices, raising living standards and combating terrorism.

Almost 40 percent of the country’s 150 million people live on less than $1 a day, according to theWorld Bank. About a third of Bangladesh, the world’s seventh most populous nation, floods during the annual monsoon, hampering development.

A border security force, the Bangladesh Rifles, mutinied in 2009 over their pay and working conditions, killing 63 army officers. The army suppressed the revolt and arrested hundreds of border guards over subsequent months.

Source: Bloomberg

Regaining consciousness post #blackout


StopSOPA Internet blackout Wed 18 Jan 2012Along with the most caring and committed members of the internet community, I blacked out on Wednesday 18 Jan 2012 to protest the threat of internet censorship represented by America’s proposed SOPA/PIPA legislation. The first time I took part in an internet freedom campaign was two years ago, in The Great Australian Internet Blackout of 24-29 Jan 2010, followed by the StopACTA campaign at the end of August the same year. There’s been a steady stream of other activities targeting censorship or actions that threaten internet neutrality in between, with some wins, some losses.

It’s because I value having access to the internet and believe it is a powerful tool for change – though not a human right – that I try to play my small part by signing petitions or sharing news. I also took part in SIDA’s #net4change conference in Stockholm last October where, in addressing Internet and Democratic Change, internet freedom was plainly evident as the strongest pillar of support.

SOPA blackout overToday, as the lights are being turned back on across the web, others are waking up from oblivion. Information about the impact of yesterday’s protest offers reassuring proof that people are really beginning to catch on in large numbers. In the first 4 hours of the blackout, from 12am-4pm ET, there were 2.4+ million SOPA-related Tweets; Google says 4.5 million people signed the anti-SOPA petition; and according to WikiPedia, the SOPA protest led 8 million to look up their representatives in Congress. The role of social networking – and I especially congratulate the reddit community here – in lending a viral aspect to news sharing is undeniably powerful.

Many commentators have produced articulate and strong arguments to illustrate the reasons why SOPA and PIPA are wrong. The Pirate Bay published a succint press release that is worth reading in full. Here’s an extract:

The Pirate Bay is truly an international community. The team is spread all over the globe – but we’ve stayed out of the USA. We have Swedish roots and a swedish friend said this:
The word SOPA means “trash” in Swedish. The word PIPA means “a pipe” in Swedish. This is of course not a coincidence. They want to make the internet into a one way pipe, with them at the top, shoving trash through the pipe down to the rest of us obedient consumers.
The public opinion on this matter is clear. Ask anyone on the street and you’ll learn that no one wants to be fed with trash. Why the US government want the american people to be fed with trash is beyond our imagination but we hope that you will stop them, before we all drown.