US Targets Syria Crude Imports

The US Treasury Department on 20 November designated nine ‘targets’ alleged to be involved in a “complex scheme [that] Iran and Russia have used to bolster the Assad regime and generate funds for Iranian malign activity” through Syrian imports of Iranian crude.

The suspected scheme involves “an array of mechanisms designed to obfuscate their activities,” including Russian, Iranian, Lebanese and Syrian businessmen. The US says Damascus then funnels “hundreds of millions of dollars” to Hamas and Hezbollah – a somewhat suspect claim given the Syrian government’s weak financial footing.

Realistically, the sanctions are unlikely to halt Iran’s clandestine shipments to Banias refinery on Syria’s Mediterranean shore any time soon. Iran sends one to two tankers each month (around 30,000-60,000 b/d) as part of a $4.5bn credit line ( MEES, 19 October ). Moscow sharply criticized the sanctions, pointing to the humanitarian need for oil products in war-torn Syria. (CONTINUED - 147 WORDS)