Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Cartels control oil and vehicle smuggling in the south

(Iraq Directory) - Adviser of the Minister of Transport in the southern region, Thamir Alftlawi, drew the attention to the aggravated smuggling operations through a region on the Gulf at the entrance of Shatt al-Arab. He said that: the area which is about four kilometers wide is located near Al-Awama Five, pointing out that what he called mafias are smuggling oil and receiving ships loaded with cars not allowed to be imported.
It seems that the American forces which exert influence on this spot to protect oil tankers do not bother the coming and departure of the smuggling ships. Al-Fatlawi said: this encouraged smugglers to carry out massive mutual smuggling operations, explaining that the Iraqi security authorities are banned from interfering because the region is under the influence of foreign forces.
The depth of Iraqi territorial waters is 12 miles where smugglers use boats with cranes to unload cargo from the coming ships which are loaded with prohibited cars several miles away while the smuggling of oil products particularly kerosine, or the so-called diesel, are carried out from the coast that the smuggling groups are called diesel mafia.
The ports of Basrah are under the control of Iraqi forces which form more than a department. Brigadier Hakeem Al-Jassam, Director prescriptive of the Coast Guard, said: his brigade which is sharing security with naval force is prepared to impose its control over the region and prevent smuggling operations on condition it is provide with boats and vehicles like those used by smugglers. According to Al-Jassam, smuggling groups possess the technical and military supplies to keep its operations safe and confidential as evidenced by their ownership of armored boats.
According to information, the smuggled cars come to Iraq from the ports of Dubai, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain and Al-Hamriyah, but the Advisor to the Minister of Transport in the southern region did not clarify whether the quantities of smuggled kerosine go to those ports or not. Iraqi ports are suffering of many problems and challenges and this pattern of smuggling represents the most severe one; observers kept accusing parties and officials to stand behind these operations, but the Advisor said that: specialized gangs stand behind those operations and that the local government in the province, is making a great effort to pursue them.

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