Another Iranian oil shipment to Assad

Another Iranian oil shipment to Assad
Analysis: A post-deal Iran continues to support Syria with a vital lifeline of oil.
2 min read
18 September, 2015
The Suez canal provides a route for oil from Iran to Syria [AFP]
Over the weekend, an Iranian flagged crude tanker named Tour 2 arrived in the Syrian government-controlled port of Baniyas, from the port of Khark in Iran.

It is an example of the continued support that Iran provides the Syrian government in the form of oil.

Whereas previously, the ship, capable of carrying up to one million barrels of oil, would change its flags and name, in an apparent attempt to keep its trips to Syria under the radar, this time it flew under the Iranian flag.

The ship arrived via the Suez canal, stopping off at Port Said in Egypt. 

"Iran will continue their support, and there is no indication that this will stop, as the latest oil shipment indicates," said Dr Marwan Qabalan from the Doha Institute think tank.

"Iran wants to keep Bashar al-Assad in power to sustain influence in Iraq and Hizballah - there will be no fundamental change," he said.

In the light of the latest reports of Russian aid to Syria, Qabalan concluded that "the removal of Assad is more difficult than ever".
     It was previously reported last year that flagging oil prices in Iran may lead to decreased Syrian support

It was previously reported last year that flagging oil prices in Iran may lead to decreased Syrian support.

While the recent lifting of sanctions following the Iranian deal means that Iran's oil output is set to rise, Qabalan doubts that this will increase Tehran's support to Assad.

"Lifting sanctions doesn't necessarily mean Iran could give any more - the government is under great pressure to satisfy their own people first," he said.

Iran, however, is not the only entity still shipping oil to Assad. A oil tanker flying under a Gibraltor flag, Oralynn, travelling from the Terneuzen port in the Netherlands, drew up to the port of Latakia on Thursday.

In December 2014, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on six oil companies in four countries deemed suppliers to the Assad regime, with targets based in the Netherlands, Syria, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

Syria is facing continued difficulties with its oil supply, with large sections of the Jazal oil field - the last remaining oil field under government control - having been taken by the Islamic State group last week.

The field was producing around 10,000 barrels a day, and production has now temporarily stopped, as clashes between rebels, IS militants and regime forces continue in the surrounding areas. 

The Syrian regime has reported bought oil from IS in the past, with one middle-man recently placed on the EU sanctions list.