Sunday, February 19, 2012

Iran and Syria - Stepping Up the Conflict

Latest Update on February 24

Above: Iranian warship passing the Suez canal on a mission of
"peace and friendship" (Iranian admiral / photo from archives).

Iran has sent two warships to the Mediterranean that are now docking in Tartus, Syria. Background for the unusual mission is a treaty on naval cooperation with Syria which was signed the year before.

The Obama administration in Washington is on the alert as Israel already announced its intention to launch a pre-emptive strike at Iran. Tensions between Iran and Israel have culminated after the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist and recently reported attacks against Israeli diplomats in India, Thailand and Georgia. U.S. President Obama's security adviser Tom Donolan is in Jerusalem to discuss latest developments with Israeli government members. He is expected to insist on Israel to refrain from any pre-emptive military action.

Below: Deadly clashes in the center of Damascus, "near the presidential palace and in streets where there are ministries" (CNN reporter).

A conflict of interest between different international forces is now emerging while the Syrian government is increasing military pressure on its citizens. At the same time, the Assad regime is threatening Britain and France with a cutting off from Syrian oil exports. Competitors like China might already be waiting for their chance.

Additional Facts and Evaluation:

While international sources are speaking of 5.000 civilians having perished in Syrian uprisings, Syrian opposition groups counted about 8.500 victims.

On February 24 we learnt that former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was accepted as a mediator between the struggling parties in Syria after earlier success in that role in Zimbabwe. This development has been welcomed by, both, Russia and China who are steadily pushing for talks instead of military action by international forces.

As to the recent killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist, Tehran is considering Israel rather than the U.S. being behind the plot because Israeli agents are known to have used U.S. identities in similar actions before, probably without knowledge of allied U.S. agencies. According to some sources this point has already troubled Israeli-U.S. relations in the past under the administration of Bush junior.

When it comes to recent attacks on Israeli diplomats, Tehran is denying any involvement, saying instead that Israeli Mossad has staged these attacks in order to increase tensions. As Iranian sources pointed out, there have been almost no remarkable Israeli casualties (India) or car bombs have been discovered before they exploded (Georgia). Professional attacks would have looked otherwise.

Comment by Ulysses: I would like to mention that Israeli diplomats are usually well shielded from possible attack by a high security level. Having experienced the bunker-like structure of Israel's embassy in Bonn, Germany, and security guards in front of the building awaiting embassy staff every morning, I would rule out any professional attack staged by a third party because of the high risk of failure being involved.

National Consequences of Sanctions Against Iran:


Pakistan is defying U.S. demands to close the gas pipeline passing through their country and connecting Iran with India. As Iranian crude oil exports are already reduced due to sanctions inflicted on Iran, countries like Sri Lanka are now suffering from extremely high prices for oil products (picture below). Sri Lanka's only oil refinery in Colombo, a 45-year-old installation, is known to be best working with Iranian crude oil.
[Source: Al-Jazeera on February 2012]

Above: Development of prices for oil products in Sri Lanka after sanctions against Iran took effect.


The Iranian moves to halt oil sales to Europe makes Indonesian government reconsider its state budget (APBN) as the oil price exceeds its previous assumption by + 10%. The Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs also expects to curb the inflation caused by the recent situation.
[Source: Republika, Jakarta, on February 21, 2012]


India Drops the Dollar and Pays for Iranian Oil in Gold

Media reports suggest that India has agreed to pay the price of its crude oil imports from Iran in gold, which makes it the first country to drop the US dollar for purchasing the Iranian oil.
According to a "Times of India" article, India has decided to explore payment options for oil imports from Tehran and will only abide by U.N. sanctions and not those imposed by any other bloc of countries.
India, which is highly dependent on imports to meet its crude oil consumption needs, is Iran's second-largest oil customer after China and purchases around $12 billion worth of Iranian crude every year, about 12 percent of its consumption.
India and China take about one million barrels per day (bpd), or 40 percent of Iran's total exports of 2.5 million bpd — and both India and China have huge reserves of gold.

[Source: MetalMiner - largest metals-related U.S. media site on February 4, 2012]


Below: Al-Jazeera evening news on February 19.

A summary of developing news on February 20 can be found in an extensive news report from People's Network, Beijing, published on February 21. Here is a shortcut of that report including the most important facts:

America urges Israel to delay the use of force against Iran.
Some member states of the European Community already stopped their import of Iranian oil.

Thomas Donolan, security advisor of the U.S. president, is just visiting Israel for talks with Israel's prime minister Netanyahu and defence minister Barak on
February 20. Israel's media are reporting that Donolan is urging Israel to "postpone using force against Iran".

On the same day, Herman [Nakeci], the deputy secretary general of the international agency for nuclear energy, arrived in Tehran as head of a delegation for a two days' stop. It is for the second time this month that his delegation came to Iran. On February 20 as well, a spokesman of the European Community named Belgium, Czechia and the Netherlands as such member states of the European Community that, at present, already stopped their oil imports from Iran.

UN IAEA inspectors return on February 22 after their fruitless visit to Iran where they had been denied access to a nuclear facility south of Tehran.

Headlines of Al-Arabiya on February 23:

الدبلوماسية الإيرانية تنتكس في الغرب الإفريقي
عقب تورط طهران في تسليح متمردين بجنوب السنغال
Iranian diplomacy returning to West Africa.
Tehran again engaging in the arming of rebels in Southern Sahel.


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