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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cancellation of Insurance to ship bound for Syria


It is a country on the Mediterranean sea bordering Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Israel that is torn in to conflict now – Syria, a land where Eblan civilization once thrived.   The Syrian uprising, is an ongoing, violent internal conflict in Syria. It is part of the wider Arab Spring, a wave of upheaval throughout the Arab world. Public demonstrations across Syria began on 26 January 2011 and developed into a nationwide uprising. Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, the overthrow of his government, and an end to nearly five decades of Ba’ath Party rule.Since spring 2011, the Syrian government has deployed the Syrian Army to quell the uprising. Several cities have been besieged, but nevertheless there has been  unrest and some killing.

The ongoing violence in Syria is among the most pressing issues for the International community.  In a move striking International repercussions, sinking  their divisions on Syria, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin launched a joint appeal on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. "Stop the bloodshed in Syria, we call for an immediate halt to violence," they said. It comes in the background of Vladimir Putin's strong support to the Syrian regime, and Barack Obama, whose country called for the departure of Bashar al-Assad, standing united in the idea that the Syrian people should be able to choose their future in an independent and democratic atmosphere. Washington reportedly hopes that Russia will eventually facilitate a solution to the crisis in Syria, despite its refusal to support resolutions at the UN Security Council, condemning the regime for its repression of the revolt.  In a related development, at the opening of the 20th Session of the UN Council of Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said that "the Government of Syria should immediately stop the use of heavy weapons and shelling of populated areas. " "Such actions are tantamount to crimes against humanity and other possible war crimes," she said.  The International community has been urging all concerned to end the violence and ensure that the perpetrators of crime are made accountable.   On the ground, 93 people reportedly died in Syria this week, including 63 civilians, 28 rebels and three soldiers, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

In the days leading up to the G-20, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of equipping the Syrian Government with attack helicopters that could be used against civilians. She later acknowledged they were only helicopters already owned by Syria that had been sent back to Russia for repairs, but Russia was already annoyed.  Russia insists that any arms it supplies to Syria are not being used to quell anti-government dissent that began more than a year ago, and has rebuffed efforts to impose an international arms embargo. Russia and Syria have a longstanding military relationship and Syria hosts Russia's only naval base on the Mediterranean Sea.
On the Marine front, newspapers quoted a  British marine insurer  of having cancelled coverage for a Russian ship because of allegations that the vessel was carrying attack helicopters destined for Syria. Standard Club  is reported to have withdrawn insurance for the MV Alaed, which The Daily Telegraph newspaper said was owned by Femco, a Russian cargo line and which had now stopped off the Scottish coast.  The Insurers are reported to have  informed the ship owner that their insurance cover ceased automatically in view of the nature of the voyage. The Daily Telegraph quoted British security officials as saying they had told Standard Club that providing insurance for the shipment would likely breach European Union sanctions against Syria.

MV Alaed is reported to have picked up its cargo of Mi-25 helicopter gunships from the Russian port of Kaliningrad, where they had been sent for servicing and repairs, the paper said.  Moscow originally sold them to Damascus at the end of the Soviet era.   The vessel is currently off the north coast of Scotland, according to ship-tracking data. U.S. officials have claimed the ship is heading for Syria with attack helicopters and munitions for the al-Assad regime from the port of Kaliningrad.  The withdrawal of coverage  would apply  to the whole Femco fleet of eight vessels entered with the company, according to officials at Standard Club in London

MV Alaed is a 2010 chinese built 9000MT DWT General cargo ship flying Belize flag.  Whilst the expectation was that the withdrawal of insurance might impede movement of the vessel, that’s doubtful, because the powers behind that shipment wouldn’t consider withdrawal of the insurance as serious enough problem to cancel the delivery. It the consignment that is on board  Alaed is what it is perceived to be, then insurance may not be the stopping point.   Perhaps from Russian angle, it is legal cargo to legally surviving Government in Syria.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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