Iranian fuel shipment reaches Venezuelan waters

The Iranian tanker fleet is carrying about 1.5 million barrels of gasoline that could ease Venezuela’s aggravated gasoline shortage. (AFP)
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Updated 24 May 2020

Iranian fuel shipment reaches Venezuelan waters

  • Iranian fleet is carrying about 1.5 million barrels of gasoline
  • Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, but its production is in freefall

CARACAS: The first of five tankers carrying much-needed Iranian fuel and oil products entered Venezuelan waters on Saturday, a Venezuelan government official said.
“The ships of the sister Islamic Republic of Iran are in our exclusive economic zone,” Venezuelan oil minister Tareck El-Aissami wrote on Twitter after the arrival of the first tanker, named Fortune.
The fleet is carrying about 1.5 million barrels of gasoline according to media reports, and arrives amid tensions between Tehran and Washington, which has imposed sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports and Iran.
Venezuela had said its navy and air force would escort the tankers after Tehran warned of “consequences” if the US stopped the ships from reaching their destination.
According to shipping tracker MarineTraffic, as of at 9:00 p.m. local time (0100 GMT Sunday) Fortune was near the coast of Sucre state in northern Venezuela after passing off Trinidad and Tobago.
It plans to sail to the El Palito refinery in Puerto Cabello in northern Carabobo state, according to the state-run television station.
The rest of the Iranian ships — the Forest, Petunia, Faxon and Clavel — will arrive in the next few days, according to state television.
Relations between Caracas and Tehran have become close since former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez took power in 1999.
Iran has repeatedly expressed its support for Nicolas Maduro, his successor, who is also supported by Russia, China, Turkey and Cuba.
The United States calls Maduro a “dictator,” however, and has leveled a battery of economic sanctions against his administration, including an oil embargo that came into force in April 2019.
The fuel from Iran comes at a time when the shortage of gasoline, chronic for years in some parts of the country, has worsened in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, but its production is in freefall, a collapse that experts attribute to failed policies, lack of investment and corruption.


First arrests in Iraq PM’s anti-corruption drive

Updated 22 min 6 sec ago

First arrests in Iraq PM’s anti-corruption drive

  • The arrests represent a rare instance in which current officials — usually deemed too well-connected to touch in Iraq’s graft-ridden system — are subject to judicial procedures
  • Iraq’s court system is known to be profoundly corrupt, with judges paid off to ignore evidence or make certain verdicts

BAGHDAD: Two Iraqi officials and a businessman have been arrested as part of a new anti-corruption drive spearheaded by Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi, government sources said Friday.
The arrests represent a rare instance in which current officials — usually deemed too well-connected to touch in Iraq’s graft-ridden system — are subject to judicial procedures.
Last month, Kadhemi formed a new committee to fight “major corruption files,” which made its first arrests this week, according to two Iraqi officials with knowledge of the committee’s work.
The head of Iraq’s Retirement Fund, Ahmad Al-Saedi, and the chairman of Baghdad’s Investment Commission, Shaker Al-Zameli, were detained on Wednesday.
Bahaa Abdulhussein, the head of electronic payment company Qi Card, was arrested upon arrival at Baghdad Airport on Thursday, the sources confirmed.
The officials declined to reveal any further details, including the charges against the men, where they were being held or what the judicial process would be.
“The committee is looking at portfolios that have been suspicious for a while, then its judicial commission issues arrest warrants,” one official told AFP.
Iraq’s court system is known to be profoundly corrupt, with judges paid off to ignore evidence or make certain verdicts.
Asked whether the courts could be trusted to see the process through, the official said the committee’s judges were building “solid” cases.
Both officials said the campaign was not targeted against any particular individuals, parties or business sectors.
“There is no target list — but you can expect more names to come,” the second official said.
Iraq is ranked one of the top 20 most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International.
Some $450 billion in public funds have vanished into the pockets of shady politicians and businessmen since the 2003 US-led invasion, a study by parliament found.
Every premier since the invasion has launched their own anti-corruption initiative, with varying degrees of success.
Kadhemi has made new appointments at the Central Bank of Iraq, the Integrity Commission and the Investment Commission in a bid to stem government graft.