Screws tighten on Iran as big buyers shun its oil
Reuthers / Robin Pomeroy
06-Jan-2012 (one comment)

Iran faced the prospect of cutbacks in its oil sales to China and Japan as new measures to block Tehran's crude exports over its nuclear program appeared to be driving its economy to the wall.

The developments in
Asia on Thursday followed news 24 hours earlier that EU leaders had
agreed to halt European purchases of Iranian crude.

China, Iran's biggest trade partner, had already cut its purchases of Iranian oil by more than half this month and would extend the cuts to February, a Beijing-based trader who deals with Iranian oil said.

Japan would consider
cutbacks in its Iranian oil purchases to secure a waiver from new U.S.
sanctions signed into law on New Year's Eve by President Barack Obama, a government source said.

Between them, China, the EU and Japan buy about half of Iran's exports of 2.6 million barrels of oil per day.

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Syria defector describes how Assad uses well-paid "monsters"

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(Hasn't Khamenei done the same in Iran with his plainclothes thugs and his earlier death squads?  Did IRI security advisors suggest some of these tactics?)





Mahmoud al-Haj Hamad was a financial inspector in the Ministry of
Defense in Damascus until his recent defection to Egypt. In an interview
with CNN this week, he provided a firsthand account of the wheels of
repression at work, as seen from his former 12th-floor office.

"I used to see them bringing in blindfolded and handcuffed detainees
on buses who are kept in underground prisons, even some built under the
streets," he said. During protests in the streets of Damascus, city
buses filled with armed gangs left the ministry, flanked by
four-wheel-drive vehicles "filled with weapons," Hamad said.....

...intelligence vans marked with the Syrian Red Crescent insignia that
would drive through the protests as ambulances and start firing at

He blames much of the carnage not Syrian regular troops but on President
Bashar al-Assad's intelligence service and the armed gangs he says were
recruited to battle protesters.

He said the gunmen were provided with accommodations "and high salaries
of about $100 a day." But the nearly 10-month-old crackdown in Syria has
cost the government so much that it has had to cut funding for other
government ministries by 30%, Hamad said.

Hamad said he supported the revolution from the start, as did many of
his colleagues. He said he would even disguise himself to join the
demonstrators sometimes.