Iran: Various options to neutralize ‘illegal’ US sanctions oil exports

Above, an Iranian oil facility on Khark Island. Iranian officials have threatened to disrupt oil shipments from the Gulf countries if Washington tries to strangle Tehran’s oil exports. (AFP)
Updated 23 February 2019
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Iran: Various options to neutralize ‘illegal’ US sanctions oil exports

  • ‘Apart from closing Strait of Hormuz, we have other options to stop oil flow if threatened’
  • ‘Iran has plans in place that will neutralize the illegal US sanctions against Iran’s oil exports’

DUBAI: Iran said on Saturday it had many options to neutralize the reimposition of US sanctions on its oil exports, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, adding that Tehran’s regional influence could not be curbed as demanded by Washington.

“Apart from closing Strait of Hormuz, we have other options to stop oil flow if threatened,” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani told Tasnim. “Iran has plans in place that will neutralize the illegal US sanctions against Iran’s oil exports,” Shamkhani said. “We have many ways to sell our oil.”

Tensions between Iran and the US increased after US President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers last May, and then reimposed sanctions on the Islamic republic.

The restoration of sanctions is part of a wider effort by Trump to force Iran to further curb its nuclear and missile programs as well as its support for proxy forces in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.

Washington had been pushing governments to cut imports of Iranian oil to zero. But, fearing a price spike, it granted waivers to eight Iranian oil buyers when the sanctions on oil imports started last November.

Iranian officials have threatened to disrupt oil shipments from the Gulf countries if Washington tries to strangle Tehran’s oil exports.

Carrying one-third of the world’s seaborne oil every day, the Strait of Hormuz links Middle East crude producers to key markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond.

“There are multiple ways to make that (blockage of Hormuz) happen. We hope we would not be forced to use them,” Shamkhani said.

Iran has been President Bashar Assad’s most supportive ally against insurgents throughout the nearly eight-year Syrian civil war.

“We have achieved 90 percent of Iran’s goals in Syria,” said Shamkhani, a close ally of Iran’s top authority Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“There will be important developments in promoting the deterrence capability of the resistance front in Syria,” said Shamkhani when asked about Israel’s “possible future attacks” in Syria, according to Tasnim.

“Iran is capable of confronting any military threat ... Trump and Israel are well aware of Iran’s military might,” Shamkhani said. Iran often refers to regional countries and forces opposed to Israel and the US as a “resistance axis.”

Israel, increasingly concerned that its enemy Iran may establish a long-term military presence in neighboring Syria, says it has carried out over 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years.

Defying Israeli threats that they might be targeted if they do not leave the country, Iran says it will continue to provide military advisers to Syria for as long as necessary in support of Assad’s forces.

“They know that they cannot enter a war with Iran. That is why they publicly threaten Iran.”


Syria Kurds urge world to take back foreign militants

Updated 57 min 18 sec ago
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Syria Kurds urge world to take back foreign militants

  • The Kurdish administration’s top foreign affairs official Abdel Karim Omar warned that its foreign captives still pose a threat
  • Many of the suspected militants’ countries of origin are reluctant to take them back due to potential security risks

OMAR OIL FIELD, Syria: Syria’s Kurds warned Sunday that the thousands of foreign militants they have detained in their fight against the Daesh group are a time-bomb the international community urgently needs to defuse.
Speaking a day after Kurdish-led forces announced the final demise of the militants’ physical “caliphate,” the Kurdish administration’s top foreign affairs official Abdel Karim Omar warned that its foreign captives still pose a threat.
“There are thousands of fighters, children and women and from 54 countries, not including Iraqis and Syrians, who are a serious burden and danger for us and for the international community,” Omar said.
“Numbers increased massively during the last 20 days of the Baghouz operation,” he said, referring to the village by the Euphrates where diehard militants made a bloody last stand.
The fate of foreign Daesh fighters has become a major issue as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces closed in on the once-sprawling proto-state the militants declared in 2014.
After a months-long assault by the US-backed SDF to flush out the last Daesh strongholds in the Euphrates Valley, militants and their families gradually gathered in Baghouz as the last rump of the “caliphate” shrank around them.
While some managed to escape, many of the foreigners stayed behind, either surrendering to the SDF or fighting to the death.
According to the SDF, 66,000 people left the last Daesh pocket since January, including 5,000 militants and 24,000 of their relatives.
The assault was paused multiple times as the SDF opened humanitarian corridors for people evacuating the besieged enclave.
The droves of people scrambling out of Baghouz in recent weeks were screened by the SDF and dispatched to camps further north, where most are still held.
The de facto autonomous Kurdish administration is northeastern Syria has warned it does not have capacity to detain so many people, let alone put them on trial.
But many of the suspected militants’ countries of origin are reluctant to take them back due to potential security risks and a likely public backlash.
Some have even withdrawn citizenship from their nationals detained in Syria.
“There has to be coordination between us and the international community to address this danger,” Abdel Karim Omar said.
“There are thousands of children who have been raised according to IS ideology,” he added.
“If these children are not reeducated and reintegrated in their societies of origin, they are potential future terrorists.”