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US imposes sanctions on oil smuggling network supporting Hezbollah, IRGC Quds forces

The United States has imposed sanctions on the international smuggling networks accused of generating revenue for the foreign arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Several companies and entities that the US said were Gulf-based groups used the United Arab Emirates [UAE] Port of Sharjah, where they blended the oil shipments to conceal their Iranian origin.

At least 17 entities and 11 maritime vessels that felicitated the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars were blacklisted. Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group designated as a terrorist organisation in US and allied countries was founded during the 15-year of the Lebanese Civil War and has been since known for its resistance tactics against the Western influence in the Middle East and the Israeli state. 

Perpetrators of conflict

The United States, earlier this year, sanctioned Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force after declaring its involvement in an “international oil smuggling and money laundering network.” The Treasury of the United States alleged the illegal sale of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Iranian oil for both the IRGC-QF and Hezbollah, who controls the Lebanese Energy Ministry. The revenue generated from these dealings helps fund the proxy militant groups that “perpetuate conflict and suffering throughout the region.” The US had warned that sanctions could apply to anyone purchasing oil from firms linked to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). 

The sanctions were announced as violence and demonstrations batter the Islamic Republic for the seventh straight week over the death of a 22-year-old Masha Amini in police custody. Biden administration unveiled a tranche of censorship-related sanctions on Iranian entities involved in the crackdown of the anti-cleric Islamic Shiite regime protesters, mostly women. 

Brian Nelson, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement: “The individuals running this illicit network use a web of shell companies and fraudulent tactics including document falsification to obfuscate the origins of Iranian oil, sell it on the international market and evade sanctions.” “Market participants should be vigilant of Hezbollah and the IRGC-QF’s attempts to generate revenue from oil smuggling to enable their terrorist activities around the world,” Nelson added.

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