Thursday, March 6, 2014


Route of the seized vessel
This week's seizure, in the Red Sea, by Israeli Naval Commandos, of an Iranian shipment of Syrian M-302 (302mm) heavy rockets, destined for Hamas in Gaza, is bad enough, but the fact that Iraq played no small role in the incident, illustrates exactly where the Iraqi Government stands: squarely behind Iran. We can no longer trust Iraq to be an ally of the West, when it comes to Iran.

It is the circuitous route that the rockets took that illustrates Iraq's de facto alliance with Iran:

(1) The arms were flown, from Damascus International Airport, to Tehran, reportedly by the Qods Force, the unit of the IRGC that operates outside Iran. Israeli media haas reported that the rockets were of Syrian manufacture.

(2) Next, the rockets were transported to the Iranian port of Badar Abbas, where a number of previous covert arms shipments originated.

(3) Then, A Panamanian-registered Iranian freighter, the KLOS-C, was loaded with the rockets, and sailed to the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr. There, bags of Iranian cement were placed on top of the rockets (like was dine with the arms-laden North Korean freighter seized by Panama). One wonders how this was accomplished, in light of the international sanctions in place against Iran. Obviously, Iraq can no longer be trusted. Both Iraqi Customs officers, and port officials, knew about the shipment, yet did nothing. The bags of cement clearly indicate "Made in Iran," and all inbound and outbound cargo is required to be inspected.


(4) The freighter departed, and was intercepted in the Red Sea, off Eritrea, near Sudan. The anticipated destination was Port Sudan, and the arms were slated to be shipped overland, through Egypt, into Gaza.

(5) The crew, who were not Iranian nationals, claim ignorance, though we are wondering who loaded the cement atop the rockets.

(6) After Naval Command missile boats intercepted the freighter, and confiscated the cargo, the vessel, under Israeli command, changed course for the Israeli port of Eilat.
One of the seized rockets
This is but one of several covert Iranian arms shipments seized in transit in the part few years; while the illicit cargo here was for Hamas, other seizures were destined for Hezbollah, and Syria.

When calculating risk levels for your bank, or your client, doing business in Iraq, or making investments there, consider that Iraq's close relationship with Iran potentially affect the status, and safety, of any assets owned there, as it increases war risk. Remember that, the next time a bank client inquires about the risks of doing business in Iraq.

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