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Asharq Al-Awsat | Youssef Diab
A Western report accused two Lebanese companies of smuggling Iranian oil to the Syrian regime, in violation of US sanctions against Tehran.
While some experts emphasized the lack of proof in the report, others warned against “turning Lebanon into a platform to circumvent international sanctions.”
Asharq Al-Awsat could not contact the companies to confirm or deny the accusations.
Tankers Trackers – an International tanker tracking website – published a report in which it announced that Lebanese commercial records and traceability data for ships showed that two companies owned and operated oil tankers transporting Iranian crude oil secretly in the Mediterranean to Syria.
According to the report, two tankers – Sandro and Jasmine – turned off their transponders when they reached the Syrian coast, as many Iranian vessels do, to avoid detection while en route to their destination.
The report noted that Sandro turned its transponder off near Cyprus, effectively disappearing from the maritime map.
In a similar incident, the location of the tanker Jasmine disappeared from radars while in the Mediterranean. The tanker is on the US list to monitor illegal activities, the report noted.
There was no official Lebanese comment on the report, either from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Economy, which are the concerned authorities to clarify this issue.
Lebanese Economist Jassem Ajaka pointed out that there were several ways used by uses to export its oil and evade sanctions.
“But it is difficult to ascertain whether Lebanese entities or companies are involved in this issue,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Sami Nader, director of the Middle East Institute for Strategic Affairs, feared the negative repercussions of such activity on Lebanon.
“The Americans do not joke about the issue of sanctions,” he stressed.
Nader called on the Lebanese government and the Ministry of Economy to respond to this report, saying that the issue could be brought up by Prime Minister Saad Hariri during his ongoing visit to Washington.