Washington disrupts Tehran-Moscow network sending oil to Assad regime

Syrian opposition fighters from the National Liberation Front take position on the frontline facing regime forces in Al-Rashedeen, west of Aleppo. (AFP)
Updated 22 November 2018
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Washington disrupts Tehran-Moscow network sending oil to Assad regime

  • Multi-faceted strategy needed to lessen Iranian influence in Syria, expert tells Arab News
  • The US authorities alleged that since 2014, vessels carrying Iranian oil have switched off transponders to conceal deliveries to Syria

JEDDAH: The US has moved to disrupt an Iranian-Russian network that it said had sent millions of barrels of oil to Syria and hundreds of millions of dollars to indirectly fund militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

The complicated arrangement, described by the US Treasury in a statement on Tuesday, involved a Syrian citizen allegedly using his Russia-based company to ship Iranian oil to Syria with the aid of a Russian state-owned company.

Syria then helped transfer hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to Hezbollah, which functions as a political party that is part of the Lebanese government and as a militia, as well as to Hamas, the Palestinian group that rules the Gaza Strip.

The US authorities alleged that since 2014, vessels carrying Iranian oil have switched off transponders to conceal deliveries to Syria.

Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh described the move as a step in the right direction.

“This move is the first correct step toward reducing Russia’s, and specifically, Iran’s increasing influence in Syria,” he told Arab News. “Tehran’s political opportunism in Syria is serving the Iranian regime ideologically, economically, geopolitically and strategically.”

According to him, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is also establishing a permanent military base in the south of Damascus and has significant control over some Syrian airports.

“A multi-faceted strategy is required to lessen Iran’s military, political and economic influence in Syria,” said Rafizadeh. “Governments around the world must act now to reduce Iran’s influence across Syria before it is too late.”

Russia will continue supplying oil to Syria in line with its agreement with Damascus despite pressure from the US, said Oleg Morozov, a member of the Russian Federation Council.

“The political defeat in Syria apparently prompts the United States to return to the idea of regime change in Damascus. Therefore, economic pressure through oil supply shutdown becomes a tool of the new economic war with (Syrian President) Bashar Assad and indirectly with Moscow and Iran,” he said.

“We have an agreement with Syria and therefore it’s up to us to decide what we supply and to whom. This will be our answer, (it is) much more effective than counter-sanctions,” he added.

 


Nile crisis must be resolved to avoid conflict: Think tank

Updated 20 March 2019
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Nile crisis must be resolved to avoid conflict: Think tank

  • Talks on the issues have been deadlocked for months
  • Egypt depends on the Nile for about 90 percent of its needs for irrigation and drinking water

CAIRO: A water crisis brewing between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over a contentious Nile dam could escalate into a conflict with "severe humanitarian consequences", a think-tank said on Wednesday.
Egypt, which relies almost totally on the Nile for irrigation and drinking water, fears the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam being built on the Blue Nile could reduce its water supplies.
Talks on the issues have been deadlocked for months.
"The case for cooperation among Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in resolving the Nile water dispute is unambiguous," the International Crisis Group think-tank said.
"All stand to benefit. Dangers of failing to work together are just as stark.
"The parties could blunder into conflict, with severe humanitarian consequences," it warned.
The dam project launched by Ethiopia in 2012 is designed to feed a hydroelectric project to produce 6,000 megawatts of power, equal to six nuclear-powered plants.
Egypt depends on the Nile for about 90 percent of its needs for irrigation and drinking water, and says it has "historic rights" to the river guaranteed by treaties from 1929 and 1959.
The river, which runs through 10 countries, is Africa's longest and a crucial artery for water supplies and electricity for all the countries.
The Blue Nile takes its source in Ethiopia and converges with the White Nile in Sudan's capital Khartoum to form the Nile which runs through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea.
The ICG said it was "crucial that the parties resolve their dispute before the dam (whose construction is near completion) begins operating."
"The Nile basin countries could be drawn into conflict because the stakes are so high: Ethiopia sees the hydroelectric dam as a defining national development project; Sudan covets the cheap electricity and expanded agricultural production that it promises; and Egypt perceives the possible loss of water as an existential threat," it said.
The report recommends a two-step approach, beginning with confidence building measures "by agreeing upon terms for filling the dam's reservoirs that do not harm downstream countries" and "a new, transboundary framework for resource sharing to avert future conflicts".