Pre-war Iraq and Syria: closer than we thought

I wonder what else passed back and forth over their borders during the UN sanctions?

IRS Docs Detail Ties Between Syria, Iraq

WASHINGTON β€” Syria had $3 billion in illegal oil-import and arms-export deals with Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s regime, according to documents obtained by the House International Relations Committee.

The documents, prepared by IRS special agents, have emerged as a new avenue in Congress’ investigation into the scandal-plagued U.N. Oil-for-Food program. Congressional investigators on Wednesday will hold a 10:30 a.m. EDT hearing to probe the actions of Syria and President Bashar Assad.

Click here to read the documents released by the House International Relations Committee (pdf file).

Investigators said that for Baghdad, the relationship was attractive because Syria could buy more oil under better financial deals than other Iraqi clients. Damascus, meanwhile, was more willing than any other neighboring state to allow military goods to be shipped to Iraq through its borders.

Following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s government in 2003, IRS criminal investigators opened an inquiry into Iraqi operations of Oil-for-Food and interviewed numerous mid-level government officials, former Iraqi ministers and other imprisoned officials and supplied information to Congress, CIA and IRS.

Commercial transactions and deposits were uncovered that implicated the Syrian government in the Oil-for-Food scandal.

The IRS learned through its interviews that Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) maintained accounts at the Commercial Bank of Syria (CBS) that received funds from the oil sales to Syria. Beginning in June 2000 and lasting until March 2003, Iraq and Syria set up a border trade protocol, which ultimately resulted in $3 billion worth of Iraqi oil being imported by Syria.

IRS investigators have concluded that the money was funneled through these accounts. About 40 percent was paid in cash while the other 60 percent came in “goods” such as arms.

Both the imports of oil and the exports of military supplies were illegal under U.N. sanctions imposed after the first Gulf War.

Looks like now, though, Iraq and Syria’s friendly days are coming to an end. The new Iraqi govt is getting tough with Syria and demanding Syria stop the infiltration of terrorists coming into Iraq from their country. Captain Ed has more.