Syria, New UN Security Council Member, Is Reprimanded for Sanction-Busting
Syria has filed a strong protest with Washington, accusing the Sixth Fleet of a “piracy operation” against two Syrian commercial vessels on the Mediterranean. The US Charge d’Affaires in Damascus was summoned to the Syrian foreign ministry Wednesday January 30 to explain Sixth Fleet interception and search off Cyprus of two Syrian-registered merchant vessels, the “Captain Mohamed” and “Hajji Rahmeh”, that were shipping citrus from the Turkish port of Mersin.
American sources report that the sea searches are part of the global war on terror. In this case, nothing was found.
debkafile‘s military sources report that 70 warships are patrolling the eastern Mediterranean, most US Sixth Fleet, a few British, Turkish and Israeli, hunting for fleeing al Qaeda fighters, Hizballah militants and weapons bound for Syrian and Lebanese ports. The fleet operates under US command and a combined Turkish-Israeli air force umbrella.
So far this massive naval pursuit has turned up empty.
After Israel’s interception of the Karine-A arms smuggling vessel on the Red Sea on January 3, the Mediterranean fleet stepped up its hunt for smuggled arms, urged on by the information that Iraqi military intelligence had taken in recent months to using Syrian merchant ships for smuggling in components for Iraq’s military industries and its weapons systems as well as materials for weapons manufacture, including missile warheads, bombs and chemical, biological and nuclear shells. Iraq’s military industry is working overtime to prepare the national arsenal for a US military campaign.
Under the secret Iraqi-Syrian mutual defense pact, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein asked Syrian president Bashar Assad for help in circumventing the heavy US-British naval presence in the Persian Gulf. This help consisted of getting the prohibited goods through the Mediterranean. The virtual blockade was imposed on Syrian and Lebanese shores after the Syrian president acceded to Saddam’s request.
Monday, January 28, Britain accused Syria of committing the most serious violation of UN sanctions against Iraq since 1990 by illegally importing and selling millions of barrels of Iraqi oil. Syrian took its seat on the UN Security Council, which imposed the sanctions, this month.
According to Gulf sources, Syria is pumping 200,000 barrels per day of Iraqi oil, generating $1 billion a year in illegal revenue for the Iraqi government.