Diesel to Syria: a partnership between distributors and smugglers

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During the past few days, the file of smuggling across the Lebanese-Syrian border has returned to the fore, with the loss of diesel in the Lebanese market and the focused media campaign. Yesterday, the Progressive Socialist Party entered “judicially” on the line, after the representatives of the Democratic Meeting had focused on media injection, and the bloc, according to MP Hadi Abu Al-Hassan, announced to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, to open an investigation into smuggling essential commodities from Lebanon.

A million and a half million liters of smuggled Syrian gasoline were entering the Lebanese market (Haitham Al-Mousawi)

Smuggling never stopped from Lebanon to Syria, and vice versa, in a permanent movement in which the goods and their direction differ according to the developments of the markets and cash in the two countries. However, the recent crisis that Lebanon is suffering from and the Bank of Lebanon continuing to support diesel in parallel with the intensification of the blockade on Syria during the past months, especially that the blockade will worsen in the coming stage with the entry of the American “Caesar” law to punish Syria into effect, making the smuggling of diesel fuel Towards Syria is a profitable matter for smugglers and their partners alike, after it was reversed in decades, in which Syrian fuel was cheaper than Lebanese fuel, and the interest of smugglers required smuggling Syrian fuel to Beirut.
Despite the clamor, however, as of last night, the details of the file had not been completed by the relevant authorities, regarding the parties involved, the mechanism of new smuggling operations and smuggled quantities. However, what is confirmed, according to the data of a security and judicial authority, is that the smuggling lines are the same from the Hermel and Wadi Khaled regions, and that the quantities being discussed are inflated.
What is happening, according to the security reference, is that “smugglers and large fuel distribution companies prefer to sell diesel to Syria, to take advantage of the price difference between Lebanon and Syria recently and the support provided by the BDL to smuggle it by fifty to a hundred tanks a day from illegal crossings in Hermel And in Wadi Khaled. ” And he adds that «some quantities of flour are smuggled from soft wheat to Syria to be used in the manufacture of tourist bread, a material supported by the Central Bank as well». However, the source confirms that “the ability of the Lebanese army and security services to control the borders by 100% is impossible” and that “the areas where smuggling takes place did not complete the deployment of the army in them, as was planned by the political and security crisis at home and the decision to stop the recruitment due to the financial crisis.”

Security reference: The solution starts from monitoring the fuel before it leaves the companies and reaches the roads

However, the source asserts that the army and the rest of the agencies, especially customs, have taken strict measures during the past two days, as some border sites have reinforced additional soldiers, pursued smuggling trucks and stopped tanks heading towards the northern Bekaa and Akkar and transported them to the army barracks to confirm their destination. But the crisis is that “many smugglers either from station owners or agree with large companies, and therefore controlling the matter on the roads is difficult, and the solution starts from monitoring the fuel before it leaves the companies and reaching the roads”, through the presence of elements from customs within each company Importers of oil monitor the distribution manifests to ensure that the destination is the Lebanese stations and market, and on this basis the stations and their statements are monitored, and this matter requires a decision by the cabinet to compel companies to attend daily customs agents to monitor distribution operations.
As for the smuggling of wheat, the security source asserts that “wheat smuggling takes place, but in small quantities”, while another security apparatus studies the possibility that some merchants in the Bekaa and the North may accumulate quantities of grain in order to monopolize and put them on the market with the high prices of goods again.
In parallel, a judicial source says to “Al-Akhbar” that the judiciary moved and “the security services began gathering information and taking measures.” “There is clearly an alliance between the smugglers and big companies, but investigation and accountability will affect everyone.”
For his part, an expert in the fuel and oil market explains to “Al-Akhbar” what is happening, stressing that “the first beneficiary of these operations is smuggling networks (and the fuel distribution companies involved with smuggling networks), and what happens is harmful to the Lebanese state and the Syrian state and causes a crisis.” The Bank of Lebanon covers 85% of the import bill in US dollars (on the basis of 1515 pounds to the dollar, so the price of the plate is approximately 9100 Lebanese pounds, while its cost today in the Syrian market is approximately 20 thousand Lebanese pounds. Then smugglers sell it to Syria between 12 to 13 thousand Lebanese pounds, so that the Syrian smugglers add profits to them and then sell them on the Syrian market, so they remain profitable to them. ”The expert asserts that“ some operations are financed by the Syrian smugglers in dollars, and thus Syria and the Lebanese Central Bank lose dollars to the smugglers ”. The expert estimates that“ The quantities do not come Oz today is about half a million liters, mostly from two well-known companies in the market, and it is clear that the ministry does not have fuel, and it practically provides 70% of the market and 30% of companies, so the crisis is reflected in the markets. ”And the expert adds that before a period of« he was entering a million And half a million liters of Syrian gasoline smuggled to the Lebanese market, and there was an interest in Lebanon to do so. ”The source criticizes the“ Bank of Lebanon’s continued support for diesel instead of price liberalization, and thus stops smuggling, as long as the main consumer of the material is electricity generators. But this must be accompanied by the support of citizens with direct financial allocations, in order for the subsidy on fuel to be directed towards the segments that really need it, and collect the tax from those who are able to pay it, instead of consuming dollars in the Bank of Lebanon and the absence of justice in the distribution of support.





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