US sanctions shut off Iranian oil feeding Assad’s ‘murderous regime’

Iran's support for Bashar Al-Assad has helped his regime gain the upper hand in the eight-year conflict. (AFP/File photo)
Updated 12 June 2019

US sanctions shut off Iranian oil feeding Assad’s ‘murderous regime’

  • Syria envoy James Jeffrey says Iran’s presence in Syria is part of ‘hegemonic quest to dominate the Middle East’
  • Action against Synergy SAL and BS Company hit one of Iran’s remaining outlets for oil exports

LONDON: The US moved to shut off Iranian oil supplies to Syria Tuesday as Washington said Iran’s conduct in the country was part of a “quest to dominate” the Middle East.

New Treasury Department sanctions targeted two Lebanese based firms, which have imported tens of thousands of metric tons of Iranian oil into Syria.

The sanctions focused on Syria’s most prominent tycoon Samer Foz, who has made a fortune luxury developments during the Syrian war.

State Department officials said the action against Synergy SAL and BS Company hit one of Iran’s remaining outlets for oil exports, which have been reduced to a trickle by a crippling US sanctions regime.

“Some of Samer Foz’s activities involved helping the Iranian regime illicitly ship oil to the Assad regime,” special envoy for Syria Joel Rayburn said. “Today’s actions against the Samer Foz network will also put pressure on the Assad regime’s key supporters, such as the Iranian regime and Hezbollah.” 

Iran, along with Russia, has been one of the key backers of Bashar Assad during the eight-year Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 400,000 people. Tehran has supplied military muscle, deploying boots on the ground and arming and financing militias in the country.

Its presence in Syria ensures a territorial link from Tehran to the Mediterranean - something that deeply concerns Arab nations in the region, along with Israel and the US. 

America and its allies in the Middle East are trying to make sure Iran will “pull these forces back” from Syria before a UN political solution can proceed, James Jeffrey, the US Special Representative for Syria Engagement, said.

He said this is being done through pressure on the Assad regime and through “talking with the Russians.”

“The Syrian government invited the Iranians in as their allies in the civil war but in addition the Iranians have introduced as they have done in other places, Yemen, Lebanon, long-range weapon systems essentially as part of their hegemonic quest to dominate the Middle East,” Jeffrey said.

The envoy was speaking in Cairo where, as part of a US delegation, he met with Egyptian and Arab League officials to discuss Syria and how to move toward implementing a UN resolution designed to end the conflict.

Meetings between the US and Russia earlier this year offered some hope of progress, but a flare-up in fighting in Idlib province has infuriated the United States.

Donald Trump last week voiced his anger at the offensive by Syrian and Russian forces that has killed more than 300 civilians and driven nearly 300,000 people from their homes in the last six weeks.

Idlib province is the last significant territory held by rebels and extremist groups fighting against Assad. 

The new US sanctions are probably timed to coincide with the spiralling death toll and humanitarian crisis in Idlib.

The sanctions “target those who are profiting from the misery and murder of the Syrian people,” Rayburn, the Syrian envoy said.

“Any effort at reestablishing or upgrading diplomatic relations or economic cooperation with the Assad regime will only undercut efforts to move toward a permanent, peaceful and political solution to the Syrian conflict.”


New water project launches in Yemen

Updated 2 min 2 sec ago

New water project launches in Yemen

  • The project will benefit more than 30,000 people
  • It will allow for water to be provided continuously over 24-hours

DUBAI: A new UAE-funded project to improve water production capacity was launched on Sunday in Yemen’s port city of Mocha, news agency WAM said on Monday.
The new project, by the UAE-run Emirates Red Crescent in Yemen, consists of two artesian wells connected to a generator and two storage tanks and will be connected to the main water distribution network.
The project will benefit more than 30,000 residents of Mocha and nearby areas. It will also allow water to be provided on a 24-hour basis, the Director-General of the city Sultan Abdullah Mahmoud said.