elizrael + sanctions   364

U.S. Sanctions Hit Iran’s Oil Lifeline to Syria - WSJ, March 22, 2019
To enforce the sanctions, the Trump administration has enlisted regional allies to monitor oil tankers that navigate the underside of the Arabian peninsula and cross the Suez Canal on their way to Syria’s Mediterranean ports. Late last year, the U.S. Treasury issued a list of 30 vessels that have supplied Iranian oil and Russian bottled gas to the Syrian government, warning those who deal with the tankers that they risk falling under sanctions. Vessels transporting Russian bottled gas to Syria have also been involved in accidents as sanction fears force them to operate clandestinely. Russian bottled-gas deliveries have declined but haven’t stopped.

Egyptian authorities blocked the crossing of at least one blacklisted tanker as it tried to enter the Suez Canal, according to an official at the canal and a Syrian businessman familiar with the incident.

U.S. sanctions have cut off Iranian oil shipments to Syria, taking an unprecedented toll on a flow of crude that had persisted in the face of long-term international restrictions and helped sustain the Assad regime through years of civil war.

Iran has been unable to deliver oil to Syria since Jan. 2., according to maritime-data provider TankerTrackers.com. That compares with an average of 66,000 barrels a day in the three months to the New Year. Iran supplies have “fallen off the cliff” and storage tanks are virtually empty in the port city of Baniyas, home to Syria’s largest oil refinery, said Samir Madani, co-founder of TankerTrackers.com.
Iran  oil  sanctions  fuel  Mar15  Egypt  energy  Russia  Trump 
2 days ago by elizrael
No more waivers: The United States will try to force Iranian oil exports to zero - The Washington Post
The decision to end waivers has implications for world oil markets, which have been eagerly anticipating President Trump’s decision on whether to extend waivers. The officials said market disruption should be minimal for two reasons: supply is now greater than demand and Pompeo is also set to announce offsets through commitments from other suppliers such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Trump spoke about the issue Thursday with the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

There are some signs the pressure is having an effect. Iran has been unable to deliver oil to Syria since January due to international enforcement of the sanctions, the Wall Street Journal reported last month, which has increased pressure on the regime of Bashar al-Assad. In March, Pompeo pointed to Hezbollah’s reported cash shortages as additional evidence that Iran’s coffers were being squeezed, with positive results for regional security.
Iran  Oil  sanctions  State_Department  TrumpAdministration  unnamed_official 
2 days ago by elizrael
Can Syria rebuild with Assad still in power? | Financial Times, Feb 17, 2019
The proportion of Syrians in extreme poverty, those living on less than $1.90 per day, has more than doubled to 69 per cent since 2011, according to a UN-backed study. As many as 56 per cent of the country’s businesses surveyed by the World Bank have either closed or relocated outside of Syria since 2009. Unemployment, under 10 per cent in 2010, rocketed to over 50 per cent by 2015, the most recent data.

Gulf-based construction companies are unlikely to risk America’s wrath. With regime allies Russia and Iran showing little willingness to spend, and China wary of investing, it is unclear who will pay to rebuild Syria apart from the Syrians themselves.

Sanctions suit tycoons with the strongest regime links, says Steven Heydemann, Middle East Studies director at Smith College in the US. With greater resources and deeper official connections, “the Rami Makhlouf networks have access to a much deeper tool kit to get around sanctions,” he says. Mr Makhlouf, a cousin of Mr Assad and on both EU and US sanctions lists, has leveraged his connections to build an empire from telecoms to real estate.

At the same time Iranian and Russian companies, including Stroytransgaz, are accused of muscling in on Syria’s key natural resources, securing lucrative phosphate, oil and gas and electricity contracts. Asked what chances there were for business in Syria now, one entrepreneur replies: “The cake has been divided.”
economy  corruption  reconstruction  sanctions  Mar15  Warlords 
5 weeks ago by elizrael
SYRIA IN CONTEXT Weekly Briefing ISSUE #40 - WEEK 10/2019
In reality, the origins of the fuel crisis are complex and sanctions only play peripheral role. Initial collection on Iranian oil shipments to Syria suggest that the sanctions targeting shipping companies may indeed have had some success at deterring fuel running. No Iranian tankers reached Banyas between early November and early January, leading to near depletion of fuel reserves stored at the Syrian port. Multiple vessels commonly involved in shipping Iranian fuel to the Eastern Mediterranean, upon release of the sanctions list, changed course and avoided Syrian ports (even those not directly named by Treasury).
energy  mar15  sanctions  winter 
5 weeks ago by elizrael
U.S. Sanctions Are Hurting Hezbollah - WINEP
As the fighting subsided in much of Syria over the past three months, Hezbollah has brought many of its personnel home, apart from the combat troops and logistics forces stationed in the Damascus area, Deir al-Zour, and south Syria. In particular, it has redeployed many of its newer fighters, whom it recruited during the war on a contractual basis and is no longer obligated to pay now that they are back home.

Fighters and their families are beginning to complain about lost wages as well—a largely unprecedented development. Married fighters are reportedly receiving only half of their salaries (which normally range from $600 to $1,200 per month), and single fighters are receiving only $200 per month.

In other sectors, Hezbollah sources quoted by local media reported that employees in its religious institutions have not been paid in three months. The group has also closed around a thousand offices and apartments throughout Lebanon, merged many of its institutions, and frozen all hiring. Its social services budget has decreased as well, following a previous reduction in 2013.
rumors  Hizbollah  sanctions  budget 
6 weeks ago by elizrael
اتصالات "حمساوية" لإنقاذ معبر رفح... والاحتلال يطالب القاهرة بفتح
وفي السياق ذاته، كشف مصدر مصري مسؤول عن مطالبة جهاز أمني إسرائيلي للجانب المصري بضرورة التوصّل إلى وسيلة تضمن إعادة عمل المعبر في الاتجاهين، خشية عودة تصعيد "الأعمال العدائية" تجاه الاحتلال، على حدّ تعبير المصدر، الذي أوضح أنّ "تل أبيب تخشى خنْق القطاع مجدداً، خشية أن توجه فصائل القطاع غضبها صوب إسرائيل للبحث عن مخرج".
Israel  Egypt  Palestinian_Authority  Gaza  sanctions  Hamas  blockade  FreedomOfMovement 
january 2019 by elizrael
The U.S.-EU Divergence on Syria’s Future - Lister, Dec 18, 2018
Americans want to keep sanctions on, basically forever, while some Europeans want to loosen the screws in the hope of, at least, stability (
sanctions  Mar15  TrumpAdministration  EU  Assad 
january 2019 by elizrael
הנשק הלא קונבנציונלי שיסייע לישראל לנצח את איראן - Al-Monitor, Nov 9, 2018
ישראל עוקבת בדריכות אחר ההתפתחויות באיראן, ובעיקר אחר מאמציו של המשטר האיראני לשרוד את מתקפת הסנקציות. בניגוד לתקופת אובמה, שבה נותרה ישראל מחוץ לחדר שבו התקבלו ההכרעות, כעת מתנהל הממשל האמריקאי בצמידות ובתיאום מלאים עם ישראל ועם ראש המוסד, יוסי כהן, שמעביר לאמריקאים חומרי מודיעין על בסיס שבועי כדי לדרבן את הפעילות ולנסות להוכיח שיש בכוחו של משטר הסנקציות לשנות את המציאות באיראן ובמזרח התיכון.

ההערכה בישראל, כפי שנמסרה גם לשרי הקבינט, היא שהמשך משטר הסנקציות וההידרדרות במצבו של המשק האיראני עשויים להחזיר את איראן לשולחן הדיונים, לפתוח את הסכם הגרעין הנוכחי, לשפר אותו ולכלול בו גם הגבלות על התעצמות איראנית בכל הקשור לטילים בליסטיים והפצת טרור באזור. "אם האיראנים יצטרכו לבחור בין קריסה מוחלטת ואולי אפילו נפילת שלטון האייתוללות לבין פשרה חדשה עם ארה"ב והמערב, הם לא יהססו ויבחרו באפשרות השנייה", אמר לאחרונה לאל-מוניטור גורם הערכה ישראלי בכיר, "הם כבר עשו את זה פעם במלחמת איראן-עיראק. שרידות השלטון נמצאת בראש סדר העדיפויות שלהם, לפני תוכנית הגרעין והפצת המהפכה".

גורמי הערכה ישראלים מבחינים בין המהומות שפרצו באיראן ב-2009, שכונו אז "המהפכה הירוקה", לבין המצב הנוכחי. "אז", אמר לאל-מוניטור גורם הערכה ישראלי, "זו הייתה התקוממות פוליטית. עכשיו, התסיסה היא אזרחית על רקע כלכלי טהור. המשטר מבין שהוא בצרה ושבקצב הנוכחי הוא לא יוכל להחזיק את הראש של האזרחים מעל המים עוד זמן רב. השאלה היא, לאן זה ידרבן אותו. הם יכולים לחזור לשולחן המו"מ, אבל הם גם יכולים לנסות לפרוץ לגרעין כדי להגיע למעמד של קוריאה הצפונית, שאיתה אף אחד לא מתעסק".
sanctions  Israel  Iran.NuclearProgram  TrumpAdministration  Mossad  protests 
december 2018 by elizrael
Scoop: Russian proposal linked Iran sanctions relief with Syria withdrawal - Axios, Nov 20, 2018
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a closed hearing on Monday that Russia recently proposed to Israel and the U.S. that Iran be granted relief from some U.S. sanctions in return for the removal of Iranian forces and proxies from Syria.
Iran.NuclearProgram  sanctions  Mar15  withdrawal  Russia  Iran  IranianProxy  Netanyahu 
december 2018 by elizrael
Samer Foz, Assad’s new favorite handyman | AlJumhuriya.net, Nov 21, 2018
A previously-unknown Syrian businessman has amassed a fortune during the war. With warm ties to the regime, Russia, Turkey, and the Gulf, he may have a prominent political future too.

One cannot look at the widespread support for Samer Foz’s emergence, and his dominance over key economic sectors, merely in terms of sanctions avoidance or an economic façade. The role he’s played so far goes beyond that of the usual front-men for Bashar or his brother Maher, such as Muhammad Hamsho. Similarly, Foz has started overstepping the bounds permitted even the Assads’ most famous business crony, Bashar’s cousin Rami Makhlouf, with television channels and media websites owned by Foz continuously publicizing his meetings and airing marketing announcements for the projects of his Aman Holding company.

Foz is not an independent businessman. His case is like that of his friend Laith Hijo, the exclusive director of the production company he owns, and an old friend of Maher al-Assad’s. Foz, like Hijo, tries to give the impression of being his own man, no matter the clear untruth of this. The attempts to put Foz forward as an “independent, successful Sunni” entrepreneur fly in the face of his deep ties to the regime, but suggest there may be plans for him to play an even larger role than he yet has.
Mar15  elite  economy  sanctions 
december 2018 by elizrael
Car plant shows limits to Iran's economic ambitions in Syria | Reuters, Nov 14, 2018
Car parts have to be shipped by sea instead of via the shorter land route because Syria’s border with Iraq is closed, and Western sanctions make it hard to transfer money.

For Saipa Syria, the most pressing difficulty is limited demand, said its general manager, Emad Alavian.

“The purchasing power of customers dropped, but we see an improvement in conditions. We see new movement,” he said, adding that he hoped to double production in 2019 to around 2,000 cars from the 1,000 he expects to assemble this year.

Saipa makes small, modestly priced cars and it is poorer Syrians who have been hit hardest by the war. “We took big discounts from Iran to help the Syrian customer,” Alavian said, but demand has stayed low.

The car parts are shipped in wooden crates to the Mediterranean port of Latakia, a journey that adds thousands of miles to the direct — but closed — land route through Iraq.
That combination of a battered market, logistical problems and sanctions — as well as competition with companies from Damascus’ other main ally, Russia — affect many Iranian businesses operating in Syria.
trade  manufacturing  Mar15  Iran  poverty  Iraq  sanctions 
december 2018 by elizrael
Scoop: Netanyahu rejected Russian plan to work with U.S. on Syria, Iran - Axios
Details: The Israeli officials who saw the "Patrushev Paper" said it included these main points ...

Freezing the U.S. plan for reimposing economic sanctions on Iran in November as part of the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
A Russian commitment to push Iranian and pro-Iranian forces out of Syria.
A withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, mainly from the Al-Tanf base.
The opening of a dialogue between the U.S. and Russia on the issue of Iran.
Using the U.S.-Russian dialogue on Syria and Iran to expand their dialogue on other bilateral relations.
What happened: The Israeli officials told me Netanyahu rejected the proposals in the Patrushev Paper because he thought the reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran could be used as leverage on the Iranians over Syria — not the other way around.
Russia  Israel  sanctions  Iran  TrumpAdministration  ForeignFighters  Netanyahu  unnamed_official 
december 2018 by elizrael
המקום ינחם
דרור שלום נמנע מלהשתמש במונח "האביב הערבי". אירועי 2011 לא מתקשרים בתודעה שלו לא עם פריחה ולא עם לבלוב. "האם הטלטלה שהתחילה ב־2011 הסתיימה?" הוא שואל ומשיב: "אני אומר שלא. צעירים מתחת לגיל 24 מהווים יותר ממחצית האוכלוסייה. לרובם אין השכלה. גם למי שיש השכלה, אין תעסוקה. זהו דור חסר בית, חסר עבודה, חסר תקווה. התשתיות הרוסות; הגבולות פרוצים. ברק אמר על ישראל שהיא וילה בג'ונגל. אני לא יודע אם אנחנו וילה, אבל הג'ונגל סביבנו צומח פרא ולוחץ אותנו. זה האתגר הגדול של ישראל.
בספטמבר הפילו הסורים את המטוס הרוסי, אמרתי. מאז הטילו הרוסים מגבלות כבדות על הפעילות של צה"ל נגד ההתבססות האיראנית בסוריה. האם האיראנים מנצלים את ההזדמנות ונכנסים פנימה?

"לא", אמר. "הבשורה הטובה היא שההתבססות האיראנית בסוריה נבלמת. הסיבה היא החלטות שמתקבלות בטהרן. הבשורה הרעה היא שהאיראנים מביאים לסוריה יכולות שמיועדות לעימות צבאי. סולימאני לא מוותר. הוא רואה בסוריה נקודת זינוק כלפי ישראל. אני מעריך שתהיה החרפה בחיכוך בינינו לבינם.

"הנוכחות הרוסית היא חידוש דרמטי: אנחנו צריכים להתנהל מולם בזהירות. ישראל פועלת בסוריה ותפעל בעתיד ככל שיידרש, אבל היא לא תוכל להתעלם מהאינטרסים הרוסיים. אני מעריך שלרוסים יש אינטרס שהאיראנים לא יהיו בסוריה. הם רוצים שקט, והם יודעים שכאשר האיראנים שם, מול ישראל, שקט לא יהיה. הם מבינים היטב את הפוטנציאל להסלמה".

הרוסים רחוקים מלהיות חברים שלנו, אמרתי. אין להם כבוד לאינטרסים של אחרים. התגובה שלהם לפעולה מינורית שלנו בסוריה הייתה קשה.

"בצה"ל אף אחד לא מבולבל בקשר לרוסים", אמר שלום.
Russia  Iran  Mar15  Israel  ArabUprisings  racism  intelligence_assessment  Intelligence_community  sanctions 
november 2018 by elizrael
Samer Foz Is a Primary Target of US Sanctions - Salon Syria, Aug 6, 2018
The two Syrian businessmen (Katerji and Foz) are considered two of the major figures of the group that emerged after 2011, but Foz is still the more prominent and more mysterious, from his formation of armed groups to fight alongside regime forces, one in Latakia called the Military Security Shield, to an assault where he once struck a Lebanese woman known as Qamr, who was in a relationship with his brother Amar, after she revealed her was dealing drugs. He has even been dogged by the murder case of Egyptian-Ukrainian businessman Ramzi Matta in Turkey since 2013, with its final ruling to be issued in August.
warlords  Mar15  corruption  sanctions  Assad 
august 2018 by elizrael
Sanctions Against Sudan Didn’t Harm an Oppressive Government — They Helped It – Foreign Policy, July 3, 2018
Price rises are so dramatic that they are changing by the hour. The Sudanese pound, after a brief rally following the lifting of sanctions, began to fall sharply and has been volatile ever since, boosted by temporary measures, then falling when their effects wear off. In January, the government lifted subsidies for basic commodities, leading to protests in which several people died.

Meanwhile, those who have the resources always find a way around such restrictions. An investigation by Bloomberg uncovered that sanctions against Sudan were never observed religiously and that well-connected elites have been able to do business with global corporations for years, further entrenching their power and wealth while the rest of the country was cut off.

Shifting the balance even further to the benefit of the authoritarian regime, the sanctions applied to Sudan lacked certain crucial elements that would have made them truly effective. Being U.S. sanctions, they were not observed widely enough to harm the regime. They could not preclude China, African nations, or the Gulf States from doing business with Sudan. They also were not leveraged against a country where they could empower the local opposition. Such embargoes tend to work best when they can generate some internal pressure, enable democratic civil society, and bolster opposition parties.

But authoritarian governments like Sudan’s are relatively immune to the effects of sanctions, because their critics and opponents have been so weakened. Stephen Hopgood, a professor of international relations at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and the author of The Endtimes of Human Rights, sees sanctions as an enabler for governing elites. “Sanctions unbalance things by giving the government the edge on opposition — it consolidates power,” he said. “The sovereign will always find a way.”
sanctions  Sudan  corruption  banks 
august 2018 by elizrael
IRGC seeks to further tighten grip on Iran's economy as sanctions return | Middle East Institute, June 13, 2018
Abdollahi also emphasized that the IRGC conglomerate is ready to fill the vacuum created by departing foreign firms because of U.S. sanctions, but pointed out that Khatam al-Anbia would be willing to partner with foreign companies and investment banks still interested to do business with Iran – indicating that the Guards are seeking to exploit the return of U.S. sanctions by taking over key gas and oil projects initially planned for investment and exploration by major European and Asian companies. As Washington is set to reinstate sanctions on Iran, IRGC leaders argue that its business firms should be given an even bigger role to strengthen “resistance economy” – a term used by Iranian leaders to emphasize reliance on domestic capacities rather than foreign investment to improve the country’s ailing economy. 
IRGC  Iran  economy  sanctions 
july 2018 by elizrael
U.S. Taxpayers Are Helping Bashar Al-Assad in a Strategic City | Foreign Policy, June 22, 2017
The United States, which has footed the majority of the bill, poured more than $10 million into it its first months of operations, with Britain, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands throwing in several million more. There have been more than 260 airdrops to date, at a total cost of between $36 million and $65 million.

“For a few months, it worked really well,” said one State Department official. “The government provided the approval for the convoys, ensuring that even the government besieged areas received assistance. We were shocked at how well it was working.”

But over time, and as the world’s attention turned elsewhere, Syria resumed its policy of blocking aid deliveries to rebel-controlled towns. Those convoys that did get through were required to unload stocks of medicines. “The initial success had gone down the tubes.”

Inside the State Department last Fall, there were calls for shutting down the air drops, on the grounds that Russia and Syria had not lived up to their part of the bargain, and the West was being played for fools. The WFP drops, officials noted, simply freed up resources to supply their own troops.

“The Americans paid while the rest of the opposition areas starved. Only Deir Ezzor got stuff,” said a former State Department official. “I pushed hard to end it since the Russians reneged. But the State Department’s humanitarian advocates, as well as the National Security Council, argued for maintaining the program because it was saving lives, according to the former official.

In the end, a compromise was reached.

The program would continue, but the U.S. and other donors would stop contributing to a special airdrop fund, leaving it to the World Food Program to determine whether it could meet the costs within its own operating budget. The expectation was that Deir Ezzor would no longer be a major priority.

But the food drops to Deir Ezzor, continued. The food agency’s donors, including the United States agreed to increase its operating budget to accommodate the Deir Ezzor air drops.
DeirEzZor  UN  Russia  USG  obama_administration  Mar15  sanctions  corruption 
september 2017 by elizrael
Hamas mulls proposal for ‘chaos’ in Gaza - Al-Monitor
Hussam al-Dajani, a Hamas expert and political science professor at Al-Ummah University in Gaza, told Al-Monitor, “The al-Qassam Brigades’ plan carries different messages. For instance, it conveys to Israel the message that Hamas has had it with the calm-for-calm situation while the Gaza Strip continues to suffer under the tight siege. The Hamas political leadership might end up approving the plan, which would lead to two options: The movement could either wage war against Israel, or the latter could lift the siege. This is why the plan needs to be carefully examined; all possible outcomes should be studied, as mistakes are not forgiven when it comes to strategic issues.”
Hamas  Gaza  terrorism  sanctions  Palestinian_Authority 
august 2017 by elizrael
Obama’s secret struggle to retaliate against Putin’s election interference - Washington Post, June 23, 2017
Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.

But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election were increasingly apparent. Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services had been rummaging through Democratic Party computer networks, as well as some Republican systems, for more than a year. In July, the FBI had opened an investigation of contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. And on July 22, nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks.
Obama  obama_administration  Russia  hacking  2016USElections  sanctions  decision_making  NSC  Susan_Rice  CIA  intelligence_assessment  TrumpAdministration 
august 2017 by elizrael
The Economics of War and Peace in Syria - TCF, Jan 31, 2017
Much is made of the sectarian and ethnic factions in Syria’s war, but following the money is just as important to understanding the conflict.
The sanctions and massive economic contraction associated with the war have upended the antebellum business community, weakening some businesspeople while enriching others.
Most of the newly rich “conflict elites” have profited from intermediary roles rather than production. Nevertheless, their newfound power and wealth is real and enduring.
Some of the new conflict elites have a vested interest in continuing violence or in maintaining existing arrangements after the war’s end. Any successful peace process will need to address their interests.
Mar15  economy  class  warlords  Syria  history  elite  sanctions 
july 2017 by elizrael
The Past 50 Years of Israeli Occupation. And the Next. - The New York Times
When the P.L.O. finally did so, in 1988, the rug was pulled out from under it. Palestinians woke up to find that 22 percent of the homeland had been redefined as their new maximalist demand. Shimon Peres was among the few Israeli leaders to recognize the magnitude of the Palestinians’ concession. He called it Israel’s “greatest achievement.”

In the last quarter-century of intermittent American-led negotiations, the powerlessness of the Palestinians has led to still further concessions. The P.L.O. has accepted that Israel would annex settlement blocs, consented to give up large parts of East Jerusalem, acknowledged that any agreement on the return of Palestinian refugees will satisfy Israel’s demographic concerns and agreed to various limitations on the military capabilities and sovereignty of a future state of Palestine.

During that time, Palestinians were never presented with what Israel offered every neighboring country: full withdrawal from occupied territory. Egypt obtained sovereignty over the last inch of sand in Sinai. Jordan established peace based on the former international boundary, recovering 147 square miles. Syria received a 1998 proposal from Prime Minister Netanyahu (on which he subsequently backtracked) for a total evacuation from the Golan Heights. And Lebanon achieved a withdrawal to the United Nations-defined border without granting Israel recognition, peace or even a cease-fire agreement.

The Palestinians, though, remain too weak, politically and militarily, to secure such an offer, and the United States and the international community won’t apply the pressure necessary to force Israel to make one. Instead, the United States and its allies pay lip service to the need to end the occupation, but do nothing to steer Israel from its preferred option of perpetuating it: enjoying the dowry, denying the bride.
Peace_Process  Palestinian_Authority  Israel  occupation  USG  foreign_aid  sanctions 
june 2017 by elizrael
Sanctions: The Unintended Consequences – Political Violence at a Glance, May 9, 2017
First, destabilizing sanctions allow terrorist groups to recruit and carry out attacks by generating new grievances amongst ordinary citizens who would not otherwise support violent groups, either implicitly or explicitly. The sharp economic costs associated with sanctions give terrorist groups recruiting leverage. For example, the Iranian group Mojahedin-e-Khalq’s (MEK) Marxist appeals had limited recruiting success, but complaints about economic conditions in Iran tapped into a broader set of grievances. MEK used economic damage caused by US-imposed sanctions as part of their propaganda campaign against the Iranian government following the 1979 revolution.

But sanctions do not merely provide propaganda fodder for violent groups; they broaden the pool of available recruits by imposing hardship on citizens and restricting economic opportunity. Sanctions generate relative deprivation and economic-based grievances within the civilian population that terrorist groups are well-positioned to exploit. The economically disenfranchised make ideal recruitment candidates for terrorist groups, and sanctions vastly increase economic strain amongst potential recruits. Moreover, the individuals dislocated by sanctions are often well-trained, highly skilled workers; as a result, sanctions not only increase the total number of potential recruits for terrorist groups, they also increase their overall quality.
terrorism  sanctions  Iran 
may 2017 by elizrael
Israel-Palestine: the real reason there’s still no peace | World news | The Guardian
Israel, for its part, has consistently opted for stalemate rather than the sort of agreement outlined above. The reason is obvious: the deal’s cost is much higher than the cost of making no deal. The damages Israel would risk incurring through such an accord are massive. They include perhaps the greatest political upheaval in the country’s history; enormous demonstrations against – if not majority rejection of – Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem and over the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary; and violent rebellion by some Jewish settlers and their supporters.

There could also be bloodshed during forcible evacuations of West Bank settlements and rifts within the body implementing the evictions, the Israeli army, whose share of religious infantry officers now surpasses one third. Israel would lose military control over the West Bank, resulting in less intelligence-gathering, less room for manoeuvre in future wars, and less time to react to a surprise attack. It would face increased security risks from a Gaza-West Bank corridor, which would allow militants, ideology and weapons-production techniques to spread from Gaza training camps to the West Bank hills overlooking Israel’s airport. Israeli intelligence services would no longer control which Palestinians enter and exit the occupied territories. The country would cease extraction of the West Bank’s natural resources, including water, lose profits from managing Palestinian customs and trade, and pay the large economic and social price of relocating tens of thousands of settlers.

Only a fraction of these costs could be offset by a peace agreement’s benefits. But chief among them would be the blow dealt to efforts to delegitimise Israel and the normalisation of relations with other nations of the region. Israeli businesses would be able to operate more openly in Arab states, and government cooperation with such countries as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would go from covert to overt. Through a treaty with the Palestinians, Israel could attain the relocation of every Tel Aviv embassy to Jerusalem, and receive additional financial and security benefits from the US and Europe. But all of these combined do not come close to outweighing the deficits.
Peace_Process  BDS  sanctions 
may 2017 by elizrael
Power struggle between regime, Kurdish Self-Administration plays out in region’s largest public hospital - Syria Direct, April 27,2018
In 2014 and 2015, the Syrian Arab Army reportedly seized around 50 beds from the hospital for their guards and soldiers in the area, one of the hospital’s staff members told Syria Direct. Similarly, in 2016, the same staff member accused the Asayish of pillaging the hospital for their own use, sending medical supplies to their own frontlines, particularly during the August fighting with the regime.

“There is nothing we can do about it,” the same member of the medical team told Syria Direct.

“The average citizen doesn’t care if he’s seeing the two-star regime flag or the one-star Kurdish flag [over the hospital],” the source said. “What he cares about is that he can actually find treatment.”
Mar15  Hassakeh  health  PYD  localGovt  sanctions  Assad  salaries 
may 2017 by elizrael
White House weighs designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group | Reuters, Feb 7, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is considering a proposal that could lead to potentially designating Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The officials said several U.S. government agencies have been consulted about such a proposal, which if implemented would add to measures the United States has already imposed on individuals and entities linked to the IRGC.

Reuters reported last week that the IRGC designation is among the proposals being considered as part of an Iran policy review in the Trump administration. The objective would be to dissuade foreign investment in Iran’s economy, because of the IRGC’s involvement in major sectors including transportation and oil. In many cases, that involvement is hidden behind layers of opaque ownership.

“The new administration regards Iran as the clearest danger to U.S. interests, and they've been looking for ways to turn up the heat," said a senior U.S. official who has been involved in what he called a broad review of Iran policy.
sanctions  IRGC  terrorism  TrumpAdministration  foreign_policy 
april 2017 by elizrael
Iran Is Still Using Pseudo-Civilian Airlines to Resupply Assad - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 13, 2017
While some international sanctions against Iranian civil aviation have been lifted, Tehran's insistence on using Mahan Air and other companies to send personnel and weapons to Syria may jeopardize the industry's future.
The air bridge between Iran and Syria has been particularly busy of late, with planes from several civilian and military operators making the trip: Mahan Air (Airbus A300 and A310), Iran Air (Airbus A300 and A320), Iran's national Air Force/Saha Air (Boeing 747F and C-130), the IRGC/Qeshm Fars Air/Pouya Air (Boeing 747 and Il-76), Syrian Air (Il-76), and Cham Wings (A320). The latter company -- a private Syrian airline with scheduled flights between Tehran and Damascus -- was targeted by U.S. sanctions in 2016. Most of the "Syrian Express" flights conducted by these operators are scheduled for nighttime in order to hinder satellite monitoring. Besides the busy Tehran-Damascus route, three airlines (Mahan, Iran Air, and Syrian Air) also visit Abadan Airport intermittently. There, Iraqi Shiite militia forces are bused in from Najaf and Basra to be flown to Damascus.
Iran  ForeignFighters  Mar15  sanctions  crime  Iraq 
april 2017 by elizrael
Poll: Voters back Syria airstrikes - POLITICO, April 12, 2017
Nearly two-thirds of voters, 66 percent, support last week’s airstrikes on a Syrian air field, the poll shows. That includes 35 percent who strongly support the strikes, and 31 percent who somewhat support them. Only 24 percent oppose the strikes, and 10 percent don’t have an opinion.

Support for the strikes is fairly bipartisan, the poll shows. While 82 percent of Republicans back the strikes, so do 57 percent of Democratic voters and 59 percent of independents.

"Sixty-three percent of Americans say the U.S. should be doing more in Syria, but when we ask what concrete actions should be taken, that support falters," said Kyle Dropp, Morning Consult's co-founder and chief research officer. "For example, 57 percent support airstrikes, and 39 percent support putting troops on the ground to remove Assad. The only action that garners widespread support is imposing tighter sanctions, which 70 percent of Americans support."
polls  USA  Mar15  intervention  attack  sanctions 
april 2017 by elizrael
מאמץ משמרות המהפכה להעמיק את חדירתם לפרויקטים של פיתוח באיראן
משמרות המהפכה מצדם מודעים היטב לאתגרים הניצבים בפניהם בעקבות הסכם הגרעין וחוששים כי הסרת הסנקציות תוביל לכניסת חברות זרות למשק האיראני בעידוד הנשיא ותסכן בכך אינטרסים כלכליים של הארגון. שליטתם בכלכלה נחוצה להם לא רק למימון פעילותם בתוך איראן ומחוצה לה אלא גם לביצור מעמדם הפוליטי. על רקע זה ניתן להבין את מאמציו הגוברים של הארגון להעמיק את מעורבותו בפרויקטי פיתוח ותשתית ברחבי המדינה. מגמה זו טומנת בחובה משמעויות כבדות: במישור הכלכלי היא עלולה להקשות על מימוש רפורמות נחוצות בכלכלה האיראנית, הסובלת מכשלים מבניים חמורים, ובראשם ריכוזיות יתר ושחיתות. במישור הפוליטי היא תסייע למשמרות המהפכה לשמר בידיהם עוצמה פוליטית רבה במאזן הכוחות הפנימי באיראן, בעיקר בהתמודדות מול הנשיא. במישור הביטחוני היא עשויה להגביר את נוכחותם ברחבי המדינה, בעיקר באזורי הפריפריה, ולהעמיק את חדירתם לחברה המשרתת אינטרסים ביטחוניים הנוגעים ליציבות המשטר.

לצד המשמעויות החיוביות מבחינת משמרות המהפכה הנובעות ממעורבותם הגוברת בכלכלה, טומנת מגמה זו בחובה גם סיכונים לא מעטים. הגם שפעילותם הכלכלית מתנהלת על-פניה במנותק מפעילותם הצבאית והמבצעית של משמרות המהפכה, הרי שמעורבות צמרת הארגון בפרויקטים כלכליים גדולים עלולה להפריע לו להתמקד במשימותיו המרכזיות ולפגוע ביעילותו המבצעית. זאת ועוד, ככל שגוברת מעורבות משמרות המהפכה בפרויקטים כלכליים, גדלה גם הסכנה למעורבותם בשחיתות, שמהווה מאפיין מרכזי של הכלכלה האיראנית. הדבר עלול לשחוק את דימויו הציבורי של הארגון, שנשחק ממילא לנוכח הפוליטיזציה שעברו משמרות המהפכה בעשורים האחרונים, ולהגביר עוד יותר את הניכור בין הציבור למוסדות המשטר.
IRGC  Iran  economy  sanctions  corruption 
april 2017 by elizrael
Syrian economy in tatters after 5 years of war - FT, Nov 13, 2016
“If I buy the needs of one son this month, I have to wait to the next month to buy for the other,” she says. “We no longer have a middle class here; it is just poor or rich.”

“There is a huge problem with everything, getting fuel, raw materials, transport and inflation,” says Iyad Betinjaneh, a Damascus businessman who heads a family conglomerate that exports and imports food products. “People have cut down consumption because purchasing power is decreasing. We are not able to import any of our brands, partly because of the sanctions.”
economy  Mar15  poverty  Damascus  trade  sanctions 
february 2017 by elizrael
Why Putin’s Economy Survives - WSJ, Dec 29, 2016
This conservative fiscal posture helps explain why, unlike the U.S.S.R., Mr. Putin’s Russia has proven so unexpectedly resilient. Despite Western financial sanctions, large Russian firms continue to attract the foreign-currency funding that they need. Despite the commodity crash, Russian oil production is at a post-Soviet high. Russia’s economy is returning to growth even as Russia’s military wages war in Ukraine and Syria. The Kremlin has mustered the resources that it needs to deploy power at home and abroad, even amid conditions similar to those that bankrupted the Soviets.

Russia’s economic accomplishments shouldn’t be overstated, of course. Mr. Putin has expropriated his rivals, tolerated epic corruption and sent investors fleeing. The Russian state plays a far larger role in the economy today than it did when Mr. Putin took power—not to provide useful services such as health or education but to monopolize oil production and fund his patronage networks. Russian wages grew rapidly in the 2000s, but growth has since slowed—and even reversed.
USSR  history  Russia  economy  sanctions  debt  inflation  Putin 
january 2017 by elizrael
UN pays tens of millions to Assad regime under Syria aid programme - Guardian, Aug 29,2016
The UN has paid more than $13m to the Syrian government to boost farming and agriculture, yet the EU has banned trade with the departments in question for fear of how the money will be used.
The UN has paid at least $4m to the state-owned fuel supplier, which is also on the EU sanctions list.
The World Health Organisation has spent more than $5m to support Syria’s national blood bank – but this is being controlled by Assad’s defence department. Documents seen by the Guardian show funds spent on blood supplies came directly from donors who have economic sanctions against the Syrian government, including the UK. They also show the WHO had “concrete concerns” about whether blood supplies would reach those in need, or be directed to the military first.
Two UN agencies have partnered with the Syria Trust charity, an organisation started and chaired by President Assad’s wife, Asma, spending a total of $8.5m. The first lady is under both US and EU sanctions.
Unicef has paid $267,933 to the Al-Bustan Association, owned and run by Rami Makhlouf, Syria’s wealthiest man. He is a friend and cousin of Assad, and his charity has been linked to several pro-regime militia groups.
Makhlouf runs the mobile phone network Syriatel, which the UN has also paid at least $700,000 in recent years. Makhlouf is on the EU sanctions list and was described in US diplomatic cables as the country’s “poster boy for corruption”.
Contracts have been awarded across UN departments with companies run by or linked to individuals under sanctions.
UN  aid  Assad  corruption  sanctions  Mar15 
october 2016 by elizrael
White House working to weaken Syria sanctions bill for Russia and Iran - The Washington Post, Oct 6, 2016
According to lawmakers and staffers in both parties, the White House is secretly trying to water down the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, a bipartisan bill that would sanction the Assad regime for mass torture, mass murder, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The bill, guided by House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (N.Y.), would also sanction entities that aid the Syrian government in these atrocities; that includes Russia and Iran.

Now the White House has told members and staffers that the bill’s sanctions on Iran could violate the nuclear agreement the Obama administration struck with Tehran last year and the Russia sanctions could hurt any future efforts to work with Moscow diplomatically on Syria.
obama_administration  foreign_policy  sanctions  congress  legislation  Mar15  Iran  Russia 
october 2016 by elizrael
White House worked secretly to delay Syria sanctions bill - WaPo, Sep 20,2016
Some of the congressional officials who worked on the bill believe the administration is intentionally trying to delay it because the White House opposes placing strong pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Evan McMullin worked on the bill when he was policy director for Royce and then for the House Republican Conference. Now he is running as an independent candidate for president.

“In 2014, the administration fought hard to prevent Caesar from testifying to Congress and the public of Assad’s crimes, all in the name of security,” he told me. “Now they’ve mobilized similarly against the sanctions bill, which is the very thing needed to help compel Assad to stop killing.”
obama_administration  sanctions  Assad  Mar15  congress  legislation 
october 2016 by elizrael
U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin
U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether an American businessman identified by Donald Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials — including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue.
corruption  Russia  sanctions  Trump  USelections2016 
september 2016 by elizrael
Why the Ayatollah Thinks He Won - WSJ, Aug 19, 2016
Finally, the nuclear deal also seems to have boosted Mr. Khamenei’s ability to influence the region. In the ornate former palaces and six-star hotels where the nuclear talks took place in Austria and Switzerland last year, U.S. and European officials talked optimistically about using the deal to stabilize a roiling Middle East. They hoped that Iran, the region’s great Shiite power, might play a constructive role in ending conflicts in Yemen, Iraq and, above all, Syria.
It hasn’t worked out that way. Even as the talks continued, Mr. Khamenei and his generals were plotting a much broader military campaign in Syria in partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to European, Arab and Iranian officials. Starting in January 2015, the supreme leader’s top aides began a series of visits to the Kremlin to chart out a plan to bolster the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Mar15  Iran  Iran.NuclearProgram  diplomacy  economy  IRGC  sanctions  authoritarian_regime  internal_struggle 
september 2016 by elizrael
Iran’s Return Isn’t Helping Ally Hezbollah Pay the Bills - Bloomberg, June 15, 2016
The legislation aims to prevent Hezbollah from reaping any financial benefits following Iran’s nuclear accord last year. Nurses and doctors, administrators and teachers are being frozen out of the banking system as lenders close the accounts of hospitals, media companies and charities linked to Hezbollah.
The services are crucial to Hezbollah’s popularity as the group’s involvement in Syria’s conflict — where it’s part of an alliance with Iran, Russia and President Bashar al-Assad — lingers on. While the tide of the war has shifted in favor of the regime, hundreds of Hezbollah’s fighters, as well as several top commanders, have been killed.
Hizbollah  banks  sanctions  Lebanon 
august 2016 by elizrael
Iran’s Government and Revolutionary Guards Battle for Control of Economy - WSJ, May 18, 2016
While Mr. Abdollahi disputes Iran’s need for most foreign involvement, a few companies affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards are starting to hire Western consultants and recruit politically moderate professionals to help run companies. The idea, said officials familiar with the moves, is to co-opt Iran’s Westward shift and get in position to grab a slice of future foreign business instead of resisting it.

President Rouhani is counting on the benefits of sanctions relief, including a boost in international oil sales and foreign investment, to lift Iranian economic growth. “We want to develop the private sector in the economy,” said his chief of staff, Mohammad Nahavandian.
IRGC  economy  Iran  sanctions  Economic_growth 
june 2016 by elizrael
Lebanon seeks to ease concerns over U.S. law on Hezbollah - Reuters, May 16, 2016
Central Bank governor Riad Salameh recently used an interview on a flagship current affairs programme to assure citizens the regulations protect them from having bank accounts arbitrarily blocked or closed.

The United States has a list of people sanctioned for terrorism. A Lebanese bank or company doing business with one will not be able to do deal with any U.S. financial institution because that institution could be fined for non-compliance.

While in theory a Lebanese bank could carry on working with these individuals and just accept that it cannot have a relationship with international banks, Salameh said this would not be an option and all banks must comply.

The Association of Banks in Lebanon said there are Lebanese banks in 33 countries and the regulations are necessary to keep Lebanon part of the global banking system.
sanctions  banks  Hizbollah 
may 2016 by elizrael
Treasury Sanctions Networks Providing Support to the Government of Syria, Including For Facilitating Syrian Government Oil Purchases from ISIL
OFAC designated George Haswani today for materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of the Government of Syria, and HESCO Engineering and Construction Company (HESCO) for being owned or controlled by Haswani.  Haswani is a Syrian businessman who serves as a middleman for oil purchases by the Syrian regime from ISIL.  HESCO is a Syrian engineering and construction company that operates energy production facilities in Syria, reportedly in areas controlled by ISIL.  The European Union (EU) added Haswani to its sanctions list in March 2015. 
ISIS  oil  Assad  Mar15  sanctions  USG 
november 2015 by elizrael
The Iran agreement isn’t just about nukes | NOW Media
A decade’s worth of diplomacy and dirty warfare with the world’s only superpower has seen Iranian hegemony metastasize exactly where it was meant to be isolated or diminished. Thus the outcome that typically coincides with the possession of a nuclear weapon and indeed serves as the motive for building or obtaining one has been achieved by the mere pursuit. Any permanent deal, if it does come to pass, will only certify and internationalize America’s acquiescence to that hegemony since the attendant risks of trying to counter Iranian influence will mean threatening the compact, much as the chemical disarmament program for Syria gave Assad a year’s worth of impunity by making him a necessary partner in dismantling his own nerve gas stockpiles. Many intelligent and well-meaning people believe that legitimating the actually existing Khomeineist regime will result in its eventual moderation or extinction. Ivo Daalder, told the Washington Post of Obama: “He believes the more people interact with open societies, the more they will want to be part of an open society.”  This is a curious observation coming from the former US ambassador to NATO, an alliance that is now terrified of a country for which that teleological theory of liberalization has failed spectacularly: Russia. (Vladimir Putin, as it happens, will have an outsize role in ensuring that the Iranians don’t cheat on a final deal or, if they do, will be punished accordingly.)

Mohammed Ghanem, a senior advisor to the Washington-based Syrian American Council was less guarded: “It is unacceptable that Iran is being reintegrated into the world community even as it facilitates the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. Like most Syrians, most residents of the Middle East are extremely hostile to Iran's regional expansionist ambitions. Sectarian tensions are sure to increase unless the world makes sanctions relief contingent on an end to Iranian regional aggression.”
Iran.NuclearProgram  sanctions  Mar15  Iraq  militia  foreign_aid  Shia  sectarianism 
april 2015 by elizrael
Iran nuclear talks: brinkmanship in Lausanne 40 hours before deadline | | The Guardian, Mar 30, 2015
The negotiations are still stalled within sight of the finishing line. There are still many issues still up in the air in Lausanne, but diplomats here say they believe most would resolve themselves if a couple of obstinate problems could be overcome.

Those two issues are the extent to which Iran would be allowed to carry out research and development on new models of centrifuge in the last years of a deal, and - the stickiest problem - by far is the lifting of UN Security Council sanctions.

A third problem seems to have been largely resolved in the past few days. Iran wanted to keep some centrifuges spinning at its underground enrichment plant in Fordow. The six powers negotiating with Tehran, proposed a compromise in which a few hundred centrifuges spin but do not process uranium. They would purify other elements used for medical and scientific purposes.

The R&D issue has only been half-resolved. Iran has accepted strict limits on its development of new super-efficient centrifuges during the first ten years of a deal, but after that there are differences. The six-nation group want restrictions to extend for a further five years, wary that new centifruges could drastically reduce Iran’s breakout time (the period it would need to build a bomb, should it make that decision). Iran rejects such prolonged curbs on its centrifuge development, saying it would render the country dependent on foreign technology.

The lifting of UN Security Council sanctions is a tougher nut to crack. Iran is demanding the lifting of all such punitive measures, and all six UNSC resolutions passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, that categorise Iran’s nuclear programme as illegitimate and a threat to international peace and stability.

“The core difference is on the UN Security Council sanctions,” said one western diplomat in Lausanne. “The UN Security Council resolutions have special meaning for them.”

This is a black-white issue for which it will be hard to find a compromise. The six-nation group are offering a basket of relief measures, lifting the EU oil embargo and removing banking restrictions, in moves synchronised with the suspension of corresponding US sanctions. But it insists that some UN sanctions must stay in place until Iran has convinced the international community it has no intention of pursuing a weapons programme, a task which could take many years.

European diplomats say the next day or so will show whether Iran’s seemingly immovable stance on UN sanctions is a hardball negotiating tactic, or whether the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has left them no negotiating space.
Iran.NuclearProgram  P5+1  diplomacy  UNSC  sanctions  centrifuges  qom_facility 
march 2015 by elizrael
Oil middleman between Syria and Isil is new target for EU sanctions -- Telegraph, Mar 3,2015
Isil fighters captured the oilfields of eastern Syria in 2013. Since then, the regime is believed to have funded the jihadists by purchasing oil from Isil. But those links are understood to extend further than was previously thought. Instead of merely being a customer for Isil's oil, the regime is understood to be running some oil and gas installations jointly with the terrorist movement.

Mr Haswani's company, HESCO, operates a gas plant in Tabqa, a town in central Syria which was captured by Isil last August. Officials believe this installation is being run jointly by Isil and personnel from the regime. The gas facility continues to supply areas of Syria controlled by Mr Assad.

Other oil and gas fields in Isil's hands are thought to be operated by personnel who remain on the payroll of the regime's oil ministry. The oil is then sold to Mr Assad, who distributes it in areas he controls at relatively low prices, helping him to win the loyalty of local people.

Sometimes, the regime has paid for the oil by supplying Isil-held towns with electricity.
oil  Assad  Mar15  sanctions  EU  Russia  ISIS 
march 2015 by elizrael
White House considers opening breach in U.S.-Israel relationship - The Washington Post, March 19, 2015
The soothing public words came on a day when the White House was privately weighing a roster of pressure tactics, including:

●Drafting a new U.N. Security Council resolution outlining the framework for a Palestinian state. Such a resolution might summarize the parameters that emerged during Secretary of State John Kerry’s negotiations with Israelis and Palestinians that collapsed last year.

●Deterring Netanyahu’s plans to expand settlements in the West Bank, perhaps through warnings in a planned report to Congress on loan guarantees to Israel. President George H.W. Bush briefly cut off loan guarantees in 1991 to protest settlements, creating a political uproar but no lasting success in halting settlements.

●Altering current U.S. policy that opposes Palestinian efforts to take complaints against Israel to the International Criminal Court. Similarly, the United States might relax its pressure against European allies that are advocating sanctions against Israel.

●Weighing future vetoes of U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Israeli settlements or other activity. In the past, the United States’ use of the veto to support Israeli positions has been all but automatic.
obama_administration  NetanyahuGovt  UNSC  sanctions  Us_Pressure 
march 2015 by elizrael
Jerusalem at boiling point of polarisation and violence – EU report | The Guardian, March 20, 2015
According to well-informed European sources, the report – now being discussed in Brussels – reflects a strong desire from European governments for additional measures against Israel over its continued settlement-building, and comes at a time when Europe is confronting “the new reality” of a new and potentially more rightwing Netanyahu government.

The report also follows a period of growing frustration within the EU over the moribund state of the peace process, which collapsed last year, and pressure to adopt a harder line over issues such as settlement-building.
Israel  Jerusalem  two-state_solution  EU  sanctions 
march 2015 by elizrael
Private Bank Fuels Fortunes of Putin’s Inner Circle
The reason the Kremlin rushed to prop up Bank Rossiya is the same reason that the United States, and later its European allies, placed it on the sanctions list: its privileged status as what the Obama administration calls the “personal bank” of the Putin inner circle. Built and run by some of the president’s closest friends and colleagues from his early days in St. Petersburg, Bank Rossiya is emblematic of the way Mr. Putin’s brand of crony capitalism has turned loyalists into billionaires whose influence over strategic sectors of the economy has in turn helped him maintain his iron-fisted grip on power.
putin  corruption  sanctions  authoritarian_regime  Russia 
november 2014 by elizrael
Top Russians Face Sanctions by U.S. for Crimea Crisis - NYTimes.com, Mar 3, 2014
German officials emphasized the need for diplomacy, while Dutch diplomats ruled out sanctions for now. A British document photographed by a journalist said the government of Prime Minister David Cameron would not support trade sanctions or block Russian money from the British market.

But the Europeans made clear they were not yet willing to go as far as the United States in terms of economic strictures at this point. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, said that “crisis diplomacy is not a weakness, but it will be more important than ever to not fall into the abyss of military escalation.”

But a British government document carried by an official near 10 Downing Street in London and photographed by a journalist indicated a resistance to tougher measures. The document, shown on the BBC, said that Britain should support ways of providing energy to Ukraine “if Russia cuts them off” but that European ministers should “discourage any discussion” of military preparations. “The U.K. should not support for now trade sanctions or close London’s financial center to Russians,” the document said.

“The biggest argument for severe economic sanctions not being imposed is that the European countries don’t have much of an alternative to Russian energy supplies,” said Jens Nordvig, the New York-based managing director of currency research at Nomura Holdings Inc.

Without European backing, American officials worry that economic sanctions may not carry enough bite to persuade President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to reverse course in Ukraine. By itself, the United States is not even among Russia’s top 10 trading partners, with no more than $40 billion in exports and imports exchanged between the two each year. By contrast, Europe does about $460 billion in business with Russia, giving it far more potential clout, but also exposing it to far more potential risk.
energy  Russia  sanctions  EU  obama_administration  realpolitik  UK 
april 2014 by elizrael
Exclusive: Obama Declines to Add Names to Russian Sanction List - The Daily Beast, Dec 19, 2013
Now, one year after the initial Magnitsky law went into effect, the State Department had been preparing to add between 10 and 20 new Russian names to the list—including Alexander Bastrykin, former First Deputy Prosecutor General of Russia and former Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor General’s Office—according to officials, congressional aides, and experts.

But Thursday, administration and congressional sources said that the Obama team had abandoned plans to expand the list, thereby avoiding a new confrontation with the Russian government during a sensitive time in the U.S.-Russian relationship, as the two countries work together on issues like Syria and Iran.
Russia  appeasment  Obama_administration  sanctions 
february 2014 by elizrael
Exclusive: Assad's secret oil lifeline: Iraqi crude from Egypt | Reuters, Dec 23, 2013
A Reuters examination based on previously undisclosed commercial documents about Syrian oil purchases shows however that Iran is no longer acting alone. Dozens of shipping and payment documents viewed by Reuters show that millions of barrels of crude delivered to Assad's government on Iranian ships has actually come from Iraq, through Lebanese and Egyptian trading companies.

The trade, which is denied by the firms involved, has proven lucrative, with companies demanding a steep premium over the normal cost of oil in return for bearing the risk of shipping it to Syria. It also highlights a previously undisclosed role of Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon in Assad's supply chain, despite those countries' own restrictions on assisting his government.

Both the Syrian national oil company that received the oil, Sytrol, and the Iranian shipping operator that delivered it, the National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC), are on U.S. and EU sanctions lists barring them from doing business with U.S. or European firms, cutting them off from the U.S. and EU financial systems and freezing their assets.
Iran  Iraq  Egypt  Mar15  sanctions  oil 
january 2014 by elizrael
Syria: Assad Tries to Buy Food With Iran's Line of Credit - EA WorldView
A trader said that if the Iranian funding goes through, it could set a model for Syria’s food imports as the conflict continues: “Iran may opt to use their locked funds in various accounts that can be used for food payments. The feeling is this may work as it is humanitarian business.”
Iran  sanctions  Mar15  Assad  food 
december 2013 by elizrael
Inside Obama’s Iran Sanctions Strategy - The Daily Beast, Nov 14, 2013
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), who is preparing his own legislation to tighten sanctions on Iran, got into several heated discussions with the officials inside the classified briefing, he said. Kirk said the Israeli government briefed him on the proposed agreement Wednesday morning and told him the Iranian concessions would only amount to a 24-day delay in their progress towards nuclear capability—and in exchange, Tehran would receive billions of dollars worth of sanctions relief.

“The briefing was fairly anti-Israeli. I was supposed to disbelieve everything the Israelis just told me. I don’t. I think the Israelis probably have a pretty good intelligence service,” Kirk said. “The administration very disappointingly said ‘Discount what the Israelis say.’ I think that was wrong as a policy matter.”
Iran.NuclearProgram  sanctions  Israel  congress  foreignMeddling 
december 2013 by elizrael
הורייזן 2020- הכניעה הזקופה של בנט ליברמן ואלקין - הבלוג של רביב דרוקר
(ועל הדרך מקווה שהסיפור הזה ילמד אותנו משהו על הטיעון העקרוני שלהם שהבעיה היא רק הסברה, שהעולם לא באמת מתעניין בנו ושאם רק נהיה יותר גאים אז כולם יתקפלו).
EU  sanctions  Israel  academia 
december 2013 by elizrael
U.S. to Suspend Most Financial Aid to Egypt - WSJ.com, Oct 9, 2013
The Obama administration is set to suspend most financial assistance to Egypt, except aid targeted for counterterrorism operations and the defense of Israel, in an announcement expected as early as Friday, U.S. officials said.

Officials said it is unclear how much assistance will still be provided to Egypt under the new approach.

The goal of the decision is to suspend deliveries of military hardware that the Egyptian military could use against protesters without compromising counterterrorism efforts, U.S. officials said.

The U.S. has also pressed Cairo's generals unsuccessfully to release Mr. Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders from detention and to integrate their political movement into Egypt's political system.
Egypt  military  foreign_aid  obama_administration  sanctions 
october 2013 by elizrael
GCC “officially” begins targeting Hezbollah’s interests, source says | NOW Lebanon, July 28, 2013
The monarchies of the GCC decided on June 10 to impose sanctions on members of Hezbollah, targeting their residency permits and their financial and business activities in retaliation for the Shiite group's armed intervention in Syria.
GCC  Hizbollah  sanctions  Mar15 
july 2013 by elizrael
Iran’s Basij Militia Builds 'Resistance Economy' - Al-Monitor, Mar 19, 2013
Units of the Iranian Basij, the paramilitary militia established after the 1979 revolution to fight on the front lines against Baathist Iraqi forces, were dispatched to western Iran earlier in March, armed with 100,000 live chicks. They also took with them cheap loans for citizens of Khuzestan to set up hatcheries and inland fish farms.

In addition to curbing imports, another key goal of the resistance economy is to reorganize the Islamic Republic’s petrochemical industry by refining Iranian oil in-country and reducing dependence on oil rents, which comprise more than 80% of government revenue and provide dollars for the import of food, medicine and consumer goods.

On the downside for Iranians, self-reliance in the name of the resistance economy has precipitated a pollution crisis because of the lack of high-grade foreign petroleum and foreign expertise to develop Iran’s small and creaky refining capacity. In January, government offices, schools, universities and banks in Tehran were forced to close for five days because of smog. Local radio broadcast that leaving home would be tantamount to “suicide.”

Ali Mohammad Sha’eri, deputy director of the Environmental Protection Organization, denied that Iran’s “emergency fuel” was the cause of the pollution, but admitted that only 20% of the fuel was up to modern standards.

There is a resistance economy in Iran, but it is unrelated to urban farming or eschewing coffee. The real resistance economy is the murky network of Iranian-affiliated companies from Malaysia to South Africa that ensure that importers are able to skirt banking sanctions and pay their suppliers. Iranian firms, without patronage from the state, are paying expensive intermediaries in Turkey and the Gulf to move cash into and out of the country, while Iranian oil brokers are convincing foreign refineries to be less assiduous with the shipping paperwork and sell at a discount. Such efforts do little, however, to soften the blow of the economic isolation the sanctions have wrought on Iran.
sanctions  Iran  economy  Basij  oil 
march 2013 by elizrael
קונסולים אירופים קוראים להטיל סנקציות כלכליות על ההתנחלויות - מדיני-ביטחוני - הארץ
שבע מעשר ההמלצות הראשונות בדו”ח עסקו בהטלת סנקציות ישירות או עקיפות מצד האיחוד האירופי על גופים וארגונים שעוסקים בבניה בהתנחלויות. ההמלצה לעודד באופן פעיל הסטת השקעות אירופיות מההתנחלויות היא חמורה במיוחד ואף חסרת תקדים בדו”חות פנימיים של האיחוד האירופי.
sanctions  EU  Israel  settlements 
february 2013 by elizrael
Syria finds means of financial survival - FT.com
What is more, the international sanctions do not affect Bashar al-Assad’s main allies in Tehran and Moscow. Iran has offered public financial support, agreeing last month to set up a $1bn credit line to export consumer goods to Syria.

In August, Damascus said it was finalising an agreement for Syria to send crude oil exports – which are under western sanctions – to Russia in exchange for imports of refined products, although it is not clear if the deal went ahead. Russia has printed Syrian banknotes, while analysts say Russian banks have offered Damascus a precious connection to the international financial system, including processing low-profile oil export deals to other countries.

As one western diplomat puts it: “As the opposition takes more and more parts of the country, that’s reducing the financial burden on the regime.”
Mar15  economy  Russia  Iran  foreign_aid  oil  sanctions 
february 2013 by elizrael
Exclusive: Iran shipping signals conceal Syria ship movements - Reuters, Dec 6, 2012
Iranian state tanker company NITC has already changed many tanker names as part of its response to sanctions, though shipping experts say such a tactic would not confuse anyone in the business about a vessel's whereabouts.

At least three Iranian oil tankers are transmitting such false signals, effectively taking over the identity of Syrian-owned vessels travelling between Syria, Libya and Turkey.

The Lady Rasha is owned by ISM Group, according to the Syrian port authority at Tartous, a firm that came under the spotlight after Lebanon seized one of its ships with three containers filled with weapons earlier this year, including explosives with labels indicating their origin as Libya.

Now tanker tracking data monitored by Reuters and shipping specialists have highlighted a more subtle twist.

Large vessels must transmit their identity and location to other ships and coastal authorities using an automatic satellite communication system, but in the last month Iranian vessels sailing in Asian seas have sent signals that took over the identity of other vessels, so the same ship appeared to be in two places at once.
Iran  Syria  Mar15  sanctions  smuggling 
december 2012 by elizrael
מרקל תזהיר את נתניהו: ישראל בדרך לבידוד בינלאומי חמור - מדיני-ביטחוני - הארץ
מאז נכנס בנימין נתניהו ללשכת ראש הממשלה היו יחסיו עם מרקל מתוחים מאוד והשניים התעמתו כמה פעמים בנושא הבנייה בהתנחלויות. הקנצלרית חשה במספר מקרים כי נתניהו רימה אותה, הדליף בצורה מניפולטיבית קטעים משיחותיהם ולא עמד בהבטחות שנתן לה בעניין הפלסטיני.

הסוד הגלוי במערכת המדינית בברלין הוא שהקנצלרית התייאשה מנתניהו. אין לה אשליות לגבי כוונותיו בנושא תהליך השלום והיא הפסיקה לקוות שהוא יפתיע וישנה כיוון. בראייתה של מרקל, נתניהו עסוק יותר בטקטיקה ובהישרדות פוליטית ופחות באסטרטגיה ובנסיון להבטיח את עתידה של מדינת ישראל והעם היהודי.
Germany  Israel  NetanyahuGovt  Netanyahu  sanctions  E1  settlements  constructionFreeze 
december 2012 by elizrael
UK Threatens To Withdraw Ambassador To Israel
This could include withdrawing the British ambassador to Israel and the suspension of trade agreements.

The Israeli Ambassador to London, Daniel Taub, was formally summoned to the Foreign Office this morning where the Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, set out the UK's concerns.
E1  UK  sanctions  unnamed_official  Israel  settlements 
december 2012 by elizrael
For first time, Britain, France may recall ambassadors to protest Israel's settlement construction - Haaretz, Dec 3, 2012
Britain and France are poised to take action − possibly including the unprecedented step of recalling their ambassadors, according to senior European diplomats − in protest at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to move settlement construction ahead in the area known as E1, between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.

“This time it won’t just be a condemnation, there will be real action taken against Israel,” a senior European diplomat said.

Netanyahu’s decision Friday to move ahead on planning in E1 and to build 3,000 housing units in the settlement blocs and in East Jerusalem, has apparently shocked the foreign ministries and the leaders in London and Paris. Not only do Britain and France view construction in E1 as a “red line,” they are reportedly angry because they view Israel as having responded ungratefully to the support the two countries gave it during the recent Gaza operation.

“London is furious about the E1 decision,” a European diplomat told Haaretz.
UK  France  sanctions  Israel  settlements  E1 
december 2012 by elizrael
שוודיה מתנגדת לעיצומים על איראן בשל עסקה של אריקסון - מדיני-ביטחוני - הארץ
חלק מהלחץ הופעל ישירות על שר החוץ השוודי קרל בילדט שנתפס כגורם שלילי ובעייתי בכל הנוגע לסוגיה האיראנית. דיפלומטים ישראלים ציינו כי בכמה מקרים בעבר שמעו משורה של גורמים אירופים תהיות בדבר אינטרסים אישיים שייתכן יש לבילדט באיראן, שגורמים לו להתנגד לסנקציות.

פקיד בכיר במשרד החוץ ציין כי בדיווחים שמגיעים לירושלים מהבירות השונות באירופה ניכר כעס רב בעיקר מצד גרמניה, צרפת ובריטניה על ההתנהלות השוודית. כך למשל, דיפלומט גרמני בכיר ששוחח עם עמיתו הישראלי הגדיר את ההתנהלות השוודית בעניין האיראני "גרירת רגליים מבישה, אבסורדית וחסרת כל היגיון".
sweden  sanctions  Iran.NuclearProgram  politics  EU  MFA  unnamed_official 
october 2012 by elizrael
Syria's Assad watches war chest dwindle | World | DW.DE | 02.09.2012
Sanctions have led Syria's crude oil production to contract severely. In 2010, the industry produced 385,000 barrels a day. That number has sunk to 182,000 today. The state's revenue in this area has dropped from $12 billion (9.5 billion euros) to $4 billion (3.2 billion euros).
economy  Syria  Mar15  oil  sanctions 
september 2012 by elizrael
Business | The Drama of Iran's Erratic Rial - Tehran Bureau, Aug 16, 2012
The government is trying to respond with various short-term measures. For example, the price of rice has gone up only slightly compared to the price of chicken partly because the government has exchanged oil for stockpiled rice with India. Everybody eats rice in Iran and not everyone can afford chicken, so the government is attempting to prioritize those goods which have the widest consumption.

The government also went back to a tiered currency regime similar to what it had in the 1980s, during the Iraq-Iran War, and through the 1990s. Various types of imports and transactions had different exchange rates. Today, the official exchange rate is used for strategic imports such as food and medicine. That is another reason the price of rice did not go up a lot.
Iran  economy  inflation  sanctions 
august 2012 by elizrael
U.S. Accuses Hezbollah of Aiding Syria’s Crackdown - NYTimes.com, Aug 10, 2012
The United States accused the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on Friday of deep involvement in the Syrian government’s violent campaign to crush the uprising there, asserting that Hezbollah has trained and advised government forces inside Syria and has helped to expel opposition fighters from areas within the country.

The American accusations, which were contained in coordinated announcements by the Treasury and State Departments announcing new sanctions against Syria, also accused Hezbollah of assisting operatives of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force in training Syrian forces inside Syria. A Treasury statement said the Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, had overseen those activities, which it called part of the Syria government’s “increasingly ruthless efforts to fight against the opposition.”

In a related announcement, the State Department said the United States had blacklisted Sytrol, a state-owned Syrian oil company, accusing it of bartering gasoline with Iran in violation of American sanctions over the disputed Iranian nuclear program. The announcement said the United States “remains deeply concerned about the close ties shared by the Iranian and Syrian regimes and is committed to using every tool available to prevent regional destabilization.”
Hizbollah  sanctions  obama_administration  Syria  Mar15  oil  Treasury_Department 
august 2012 by elizrael
Iran plans to sell oil via private group, evade ban | Reuters, July 7, 2012
Iran has reached agreements with European refiners to sell some of its oil through a private consortium, an official said on Saturday, a move designed to circumvent sanctions intended to put pressure on Tehran to halt its disputed nuclear program.

The head of the oil products exporters' union said the agreement between the exporters' union, Iran's central bank, and the oil ministry would get round a European Union ban on shipping insurance for tankers carrying Iranian oil, though he gave few details and did not name the refiners involved.

The EU put into effect a ban on the importation, purchase, or shipping of Iranian oil on July 1, and the Islamic Republic will see its oil exports fall by more than 50 percent this month from las
Iran  sanctions  oil  EU 
july 2012 by elizrael
גל המעצרים נמשך: עשרות זרים נעצרו ברחבי הארץ - וואלה! חדשות
במקביל, ממשיכה סוגיית הזרים לגרור התבטאויות חריפות מימין ומשמאל, ואף ליצור קרע בין משרדי החוץ והפנים. בצהריים תקף גורם בכיר במשרד החוץ את דבריו של שר הפנים אלי ישי בנוגע למעמדם של הפליטים מאריתריאה, לפיהם הוא אינו מקבל את קביעת האו"ם האוסרת על גירוש פליטים למדינה בשל המצב ההומניטרי והפוליטי בה. "מאיפה ישי שואב את ידיעותיו המעמיקות על אריתריאה?", אמר הגורם לוואלה! חדשות. "האו"ם וסוכנויותיו מקיימות פיקוח קרוב באריתריאה, אבל אלי ישי יודע יותר טוב מהם. אין לו מושג קלוש ובקלושים, הוא אפילו לא יודע להגות את שם המדינה נכון. הוא לא יודע על מה הוא מדבר, ולא ברור מה מקורות הידע שלו ביחסים בינלאומיים".

מוקדם יותר הבוקר אמר ישי כי "אני לא מקבל את מה שאומרים על אריתריאה". לדבריו, "שהאו"ם יבדוק מה שקורה שם, שארגוני זכויות אדם לא יגידו סתם דברים. אני יכול להגיד בבירור שהמצב באריתריאה יותר בטוח מאשר בשדרות, עם כל הכבוד". במשרד החוץ מעבירים ביקורת חריפה על התנהלותו של ישי, שמתבטא בנושא אריתריאה "ללא כל גיבוי מדיני", ואף קיים מפגשים ומגעים עם גורמים רשמיים בממשלת אריתריאה, זאת למרות שישראל שותפה לעיצומים בינלאומיים המוטלים על המדינה בעקבות המצב הפוליטי וההומניטרי הקשה שם, שאוסרים על גירוש פליטים למדינה.
Eritrea  sanctions  MFA  Israel  refugees  unnamed_official  internal_struggle 
june 2012 by elizrael
A Global “No” To a Nuclear-Armed Iran | Pew Global Attitudes Project, May 18, 2012
A 21-nation Pew Global Attitudes survey finds widespread opposition to Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. And in most countries, there is majority support among opponents of a nuclear-armed Iran for international economic sanctions to try to stop Tehran’s weapons program. The Chinese and the Russians are notable dissenters in this regard. The poll also found majorities in Western Europe and the United States disposed to taking military action to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Again, the Russians and Chinese disagreed.

Among those who oppose Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, Americans and citizens of their European negotiating partners in the E3+3 talks with Iran strongly support tougher international economic measures against Tehran to try to stop its atomic weapons program. This includes 80% in the U.S. and Germany, 79% in Britain and 74% in France.
polls  Iran  Iran.NuclearProgram  sanctions  Attack 
may 2012 by elizrael
Iran Seen Losing 500,000 Barrels of Oil Shipments Daily - Bloomberg, May 16, 2012
Iran’s oil exports have the potential to fall another 300,000 to 500,000 barrels a day or more when the European Union’s embargo takes effect in July, according to Barclays Plc.

The decline will extend existing losses of 500,000 barrels a day, Barclays analysts led by Helima Croft in London said in an e-mailed report yesterday. Iranian exports may fall even further because of the unavailability of shipping insurance, she said.

The EU banned the purchase, transportation, financing and insurance of Iranian oil. That affects 95 percent of the world’s tankers because they’re covered by the 13 members of the London- based International Group of P&I Clubs.
Iran  oil  sanctions  EU 
may 2012 by elizrael
Exclusive - Sanctions block Syria's vital grain trade | Reuters, May 8, 2012
Syria is finding it increasingly hard to buy grain on international markets because sanctions have blocked its access to trade finance, while growing numbers of its citizens are struggling to obtain food after more than a year of conflict.

"Syria has deep problems at the moment finding companies willing to offer grain such as barley. You can't open a letter of credit and the risks associated with any deal seem to be rising all the time," one trade source said.

"Syria is facing trade problems and based on anecdotal reports what seems to be happening now is that companies are pulling out of the country due to the security and operating risks, so that is a challenge for the government in terms of imports," Henry Wilkinson, head of intelligence and analysis at the Risk Advisory Group, said.
Syria  sanctions  food  Mar15 
may 2012 by elizrael
Obama announces sanctions for tech used in human rights abuses in Iran and Syria - The Washington Post, April 23, 2012
In Syria, the sanctions target the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, the Syriatel phone company and Ali Mamluk, the director of Syria’s general intelligence services. In Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the Law Enforcement Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Datak Telecom will be subject to the new sanctions.
IRGC  Iran  sanctions  Syria  mukhabarat  MoI  surveillance  obama_administration 
april 2012 by elizrael
Sanctions 'halve Syria's foreign currency reserves' | BBC News, April 17, 2012
Addressing a conference on Syria in Paris, Mr Juppe said: "We know that the Syrian authorities, whose financial reserves have, according to our information, been cut in half, are continuing to actively seek alternative routes to get around these sanctions."
sanctions  Syria  oil  France 
april 2012 by elizrael
Exclusive: Iran helps Syria ship oil to China: sources | Reuters, Mar 30, 2012
Iran is helping its ally Syria defy Western sanctions by providing a vessel to ship Syrian oil to a state-run company in China, potentially giving the government of President Bashar al-Assad a financial boost worth an estimated $80 million.

The Syrians planned to sell the oil directly to the Chinese but they could not find a vessel," said an industry source who added that he had been asked to help Sytrol execute the deal but did not take part.

The source named the Chinese buyer as Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, a state-run company hit by U.S. sanctions in January.

The source added Sytrol had enlisted contacts in Venezuela to help find a vessel that could pick up the cargo. The problem was ultimately resolved by the Iranian authorities, who sent the tanker M.T. Tour to take on the cargo.
Iran  Venezuela  oil  Syria  sanctions  Assad  Mar15  China 
march 2012 by elizrael
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