Syria and Iran are under the spotlight as both countries struggle to address oil challenges. In the areas that fall under the government’s control, Damascus fails to deliver the population’s consumption requirements. Tehran is in a predicament as Trump decided not to renew waivers that expire in May for countries that purchase Iranian oil.
An oil crisis has erupted in the government-controlled areas while the international sanctions and opposition blockages continue to strangle the flow of oil. According to reports, the territories controlled by the government produce around 24,000 barrels per day (bpd) while the consumption rate is at 136,000 bpd. A session was held by the government’s cabinet on Tuesday, 23 April, in an attempt to find a solution to the crisis. In the meantime, the Syrian Ministry for Petroleum and Mineral Resources is allocating 20 liters of fuel for owners of private cars every five days. Notably, Syria’s oil rich lands are concentrated in the country’s north east, the areas that fall under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). In a statement made by Nuri Mahmoud, spokesman of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) that serves as SDF’s nucleus, he warned the government of launching any military incursion against Syria’s north-eastern region.
Internationally, the French Council of State stated that it “rejects the demands for repatriation made by French nationals and for their children, currently in Syria.” These statements were made a few days following Kosovo’s repatriation of 110 citizens from Syria, the first European country to adopt such measures. On the other hand, Russia’s Special Envoy for Syria stated that Russia will continue its strikes against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib. While the situation in Idlib continues to witness escalations between the militants and the Russian-backed government, the Astana Group is holding a summit in an attempt to find a solution for Idlib and the broader challenges in the region.
The stalemate continues between the warring parties in Yemen as violations of the Stockholm agreement prevail in light of the artillery exchange between the Houthis and the Saudi-led Coalition. The Saudi-led coalition destroyed a Houthi drone network in Sanaa, part of the coalition’s plan to destroy the Houthis’ drone capabilities in Yemen. On the other hand, the Houthis stated that their missile arsenal is capable of reaching targets beyond Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Despite this, Secretary General of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths has received confirmation from both sides in the past several days on their commitment to withdrawing troops from the Hodeidah port area. This agreement is only in its initial stages, but both sides acknowledge a redeployment of troops, although previous ceasefire negotiations have not been upheld, there is little that can be certain in the initial phases of these talks.
The United States` President, Donald Trump, decided not to renew the waivers given for China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece to purchase oil from Iran. These countries were given an exemption for a period that expires in May, during which they should seek alternatives for Iranian oil. Turkey has been outspoken about the United States’ requests and has asked for an extension to continue to import Iranian oil. The government of Turkey has stated that it relies on the Iranian oil, and as a neighboring country, Ankara is not willing to pursue actions against Iran that could increase regional tension.
Notably, with all the discussion this week on Iranian oil trade, there is another deal that is potentially more threatening than this. The US has threatened to revoke waivers that allow countries to engage in civil nuclear cooperation with Iran. Currently, Iran is using nuclear technology to power energy and water plants around the country. The revocation of these waivers places the entire Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that was signed in 2015, at risk.The measures adopted by president Trump appear to be futile as Iran continues its refusal to comply with Trump’s policies. Iran has said that they will not succumb to the pressure of the United States, and they will continue to find partners to sell their oil to. Similarly, Iran has said that they will continue to use the Strait of Hormuz to transport their oil, which has been a point of contention given the United States sanctions on Iran.