WASHINGTON: What are friends for? Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
and Venezuela's government-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PdVSA) are supplying crucial energy to the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad
and allowing Syria
to buck sanctions imposed by the US and EU, documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal reveal.
According to the findings, PdVSA has sent Syria four shipments of diesel fuel in the past eight months. Diesel
is essential to power the tanks and other armored vehicles of the Syrian army. Assad is reportedly trading Syrian oil for the diesel fuel, thus avoiding payments in foreign currency at a time when the country's foreign currency reserves are running low.
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Syria used to buy diesel from Europe, but the supply was cut off when the Assad government increased its attempted to oppress the anti-regime protesters.
Syrian tanks in Dara. (Photo: AFP/YouTube)
According to the Journal, Venezuela is also helping Syria get around other Western sanctions by buying Syrian energy products and by trading with two Syrian companies, the Commercial Bank of Syria and the state-owned Syrian Petroleum Company.
Both these are blacklisted in the US, and while the US is keeping an eye on Syrian-Venezuelan trade, it has no legal way of stopping the Chavez regime from supplying diesel to Syria.
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