Iran transports crude from Syria for the Mediterranean to bypass the blockade

Posted on October 17, 2012

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Oscar Gutierrez Madrid 17 OCT 2012 – 12:36 CET
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The pressure of international sanctions against Iran’s theocratic regime has forced to turn the tide of oil reaching the shores of Syria to load crude and transport it back to the Persian Gulf. If until now, the path was the Suez Canal, controlled by the Egyptian authorities and located southwest of the Syrian coastline, the siege of the Iranian freighters, the target of UN sanctions and orphans and godparents who want to give their flag has been turned to starboard to cross the Mediterranean, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar and save the controls at sea to skirt the African silhouette on the way home. So did recently Iranian tanker AMIN. Although Syria is not a giant in oil production, extraction and sale you generate, before the revolution, about 25% of their income. The violent repression of Bashar al-Assad has led the revolt against the embargo of oil from the U.S. and the EU. But the regime controlled by the family Alawite Assad still has a great ally : Iran, Shiite-majority country determined to ease the blockade against Damascus and prevent the takeover of the Syrian Sunni population.

As tracked by members of the Syrian opposition in exile in Europe, the tanker AMIN, of 274 meters in length, crossed between 10 and 11 September the Strait of Gibraltar with around 100,000 metric tons of crude. The Irano Hind belongs to AMIN Shipping Company, a company owned 51% by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) , owned by the Iranian government headed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today. The development of a nuclear program has increased civil not in the last six years of sanctions within the UN against Iran’s energy sector and some of the firms operating under the command of the ayatollahs. Since 2010, in the conglomerate appears blacklisted IRISL and its subsidiaries.

The Syrian opposition believes Tehran could be paying with crude weapons buying Assad’s family and later sold to, among others, China and India. And that despite the obstacles that finds Iran to sell its own oil, also subject to embargo.

“No bank transparency to track payments from Iran,” said Ismael Darswish from Paris, member of the Syrian opposition, which together with Bassma Kodmani, exportavoz the Syrian National Council , working in monitoring sanctions against Assad. What they do have clear, after consultation with European diplomats is that despite international pressure, “the AMIN keep browsing, it does not flag and not be stopped.” Faith gives it the Spanish authorities Merchant Marine. According to the Ministry of Public Works Department, the permit had AMIN transiting the Strait of Gibraltar, as dictated by the veto UN resolutions only affects “loading and unloading”. For the rest, the maritime law protects freedom of navigation in international waters.

A freedom that has its rules. The flow through the Strait is guarded from Spain by the Traffic Separation Scheme of Tariff, controlled by Maritime Safety body it must notify their craft traffic wanting to cross. And so did the AMIN. “Only if a ship is carrying dangerous goods not allowed,” says Adolfo Serrado from the post of Tarifa, “Harbour Master is informed and is the Foreign Ministry.” Another thing would be to control the Suez Canal , where Egyptian operatives driving traffic authority, even physically from the inside of the cargo, Port Said to Suez and then out to sea. U.S. pressure and flag problems would hardly now to get the Iranian oil plácet Egyptian officials.

Yes managed to cross the Suez Canal last summer’s Tour, another freighter company sanctioned IRISL, then reported Reuters news agency. But Washington has increased pressure against anyone who dares registered under its flag ship of the Iranian company. The Treasury Department released last July 19 a note that warned of “deceptive practices” conducted by IRISL and urged everyone deny flag their vessels. “It’s very possible,” said the circular, “IRISL vessels that are not properly using the flags”. The Treasury called maritime authorities to tighten controls and “take action” in case of legal fraud. In the statement, Washington said precisely that Sierra Leone had withdrawn its flag to AMIN. Now it is difficult to know under which teaches sailing since, as noted by Spanish merchant navy, the AMIN flag changes at will and lately it has in three or four times.

Before Sierra Leone, Malta and Bolivia AMIN lent their pavilion. According reveals Dinolt Benjamin, who has worked with the activist group Avaaz, Iran can navigate freely through international waters with AMIN, but breaking the law with their goings with flags, thanks to which circumvents the blockade. These maneuvers necessary accomplice says Dinolt, would, among others, the New York branch of British bank Standard Chartered, which administers payments to Bolivia of vessels registered and therefore missed the sanctions imposed by the UN and U.S. when he accepted money AMIN.

Browse through a channel or a narrow, which has alerted the UN is the arms from Tehran to Damascus, certainly prohibited by sanctions against the Iranian regime. The Security Council of the UN, supported by the latest report of the expert panel that monitors sanctions against Iran, reported in late September that Syria has become “in the central part of the illicit transfer of Iranian weapons.” The panel in its report denounced the seizure of two shipments stamped Iranian who tried to cross the Turkish-Syrian last year: one, divided into 19 containers full of rifles, machine guns and mortars, and transported in an Iranian airliner Air Yas, another inside a truck formed by explosives. “States of the region,” the report said after meeting Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the UN, “must redouble their efforts to reject, inspect or seize illegal shipments Iranians.” That, at least on the motorways of the sea without a port channel or hostile to Tehran, it will, at least, difficult.

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