Iran Helps Syrian Regime Survive: Documents

Iran has been helping Syria bypass the international sanctions imposed on it for massacring civilians, according to documents from the Syrian president’s office obtained by Haaretz.

The documents show that Iran has given the Syrian regime more than $1 billion, which would help it overcome the oil embargo and other moves including restrictions on flights and sanctions against the central bank/

The documents were leaked following a cyber-attack by hackers known as Anonymous against the e-mail server of the Syrian president’s office. Seventy-eight employees in President Bashar Assad’s office had their e-mail hacked. One of these accounts belonged to the minister of presidential affairs, Mansour Azzam; it included two documents signed by him that dealt with relations between Syria and Iran.

The two documents were authored two months ago and detail discussions by senior Iranian delegations visiting Syria. The documents are written in ambiguous language and only in a number of places do they detail ways Syria would be aided to bypass sanctions. The document repeatedly refers to Syria’s wish to “learn from the Iranian experience in this area.”

The United States, Turkey, the European Union, the Arab League and other countries have imposed severe sanctions on Syria due to the regime’s attacks on civilians. As part of the sanctions, all Arab League members have ceased contact with the Central Bank of Syria, and commercial flights from Arab countries to and from Syria have stopped. The European Union has imposed an oil embargo on Syria.

Around 20 percent of Syria’s gross domestic product derives from oil sales, with 90 percent of Syrian oil being exported to the EU.

On December 8, Azzam sent Assad and other senior figures a document entitled “Memo on the visit of the Iranian delegation to Syria.” The delegation included 10 senior members of the office of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and representatives of the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian ministries. The delegation met with Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar, the head of the Syrian central bank, and the ministers of finance, trade and oil.

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