• 20 mins Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 7 hours India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 12 hours Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 16 hours Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 22 hours Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 23 hours Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 1 day Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 2 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 2 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 2 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 2 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 2 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 2 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 2 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 2 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 2 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 3 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 3 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 3 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 3 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 3 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 3 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
  • 5 days Trump Passes Iran Nuclear Deal Back to Congress
  • 6 days Texas Shutters More Coal-Fired Plants
  • 6 days Oil Trading Firm Expects Unprecedented U.S. Crude Exports
  • 6 days UK’s FCA Met With Aramco Prior To Proposing Listing Rule Change
  • 6 days Chevron Quits Australian Deepwater Oil Exploration
  • 6 days Europe Braces For End Of Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 6 days Renewable Energy Startup Powering Native American Protest Camp
  • 7 days Husky Energy Set To Restart Pipeline
  • 7 days Russia, Morocco Sign String Of Energy And Military Deals
  • 7 days Norway Looks To Cut Some Of Its Generous Tax Breaks For EVs
  • 7 days China Set To Continue Crude Oil Buying Spree, IEA Says
  • 7 days India Needs Help To Boost Oil Production
  • 7 days Shell Buys One Of Europe’s Largest EV Charging Networks
  • 7 days Oil Throwback: BP Is Bringing Back The Amoco Brand
  • 7 days Libyan Oil Output Covers 25% Of 2017 Budget Needs
  • 7 days District Judge Rules Dakota Access Can Continue Operating
  • 8 days Surprise Oil Inventory Build Shocks Markets
  • 8 days France’s Biggest Listed Bank To Stop Funding Shale, Oil Sands Projects
Alt Text

The “Amazon Effect” Is Coming To Oil Markets

The move toward using software…

Alt Text

This Unexpected Move Could Derail Mexico’s Oil Boom

A possibly disastrous move from…

Alt Text

Is The Aramco IPO On The Brink Of Collapse?

Conflicting news suggests that Saudi…

Claude Salhani

Claude Salhani

Claude Salhani is the senior editor with Trend News Agency and is a journalist, author and political analyst based in Baku, specializing in the Middle…

More Info

What Impact does Oil have on the Syrian Civil War?

There is a popular belief in the Middle East that Washington’s foreign policy, particularly as it relates to this precarious region, is largely driven by America’s dependency on, and insatiable appetite for Arab oil.  One can make a good argument for that.

Had Syria been a major oil producing country chances are the US would have already dispatched military forces to impose a pax Americana and to put a stop to the horrific fighting that has been slowly, but without any doubt, ripping Syria apart and dismantling the infrastructures that make the Syrian state what it is today. Even if the war was to end today it would take years for Syria to return to its pre-war position from an economic and military perspective.

Some analysts believe that oil is what drove the United States to become militarily involved in Kuwait in 1990-91, in Iraq in 2003 and more recently in Libya.

Asides from some stealth behind the scenes support to a few of the many rebel groups engaged in the conflict that has been forthcoming in the form of weapons (mostly light weapons) and some intelligence delivered to a handful of the multitude of forces demanding the departure of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the US-NATO-Saudi-Qatari alliance has refrained from moving to the next step; full scale military intervention.  Last week the Qataris made some attempts at the UN General Assembly in New York to drum up support for an Arab military intervention in Syria but that did not seem to take any traction with other Arab countries.

In the 18 months since the Syrian strife began in earnest human rights groups claim that some 30,000 people have been killed so far and some 350,000 Syrians have fled their country seeking refuge in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. If the current pace of refugees continues – and there is nothing to indicate it will abate anytime soon -- human rights groups and the UN relief agencies anticipate that number to jump to a staggering 700,000 people by the end of this year. In a country with a total population of some 20 million, those are frightful numbers. Those are frightful numbers by any means and with winter just around the corner the fate of the refugees becomes even more concerning.

While Syria may not be a major oil producer, it does however have some oil, though not abundantly, therefor placing the country in a non-strategic second-tier position, as far as the interests of the United States and its allies in the region are concerned. Nevertheless, it is Syria’s geographic location on the old caravan route between Turkey and Arabia, or as it used to be known in the days of old, between Constantinople and the Hijaz -- that still holds the same strategic importance today as it did in the days of the caravan trains.

The names on the maps may have changed, Constantinople becoming Istanbul and the Hijaz, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but very little else has changed in the end game except for the caravans giving way to trade routes and oil pipelines. And unless the geography of the region can change (unlikely), Syria remains very much the pathway to the Arab hinterland.

During the last several decades Lebanon and Turkey have been described as gateways to the Middle East. And indeed, they often are. However, it is important to remember that just as double security doors that one finds in many banks where customers enter the establishment through two sets of doors, where the first set needs to shut before the second set can be opened, Syria plays the same role in the region today. Lebanon and Turkey may be the “gateways” to the Levant and beyond, however in both instances the next overland point for any overland traveller or goods goes obligatory through Syria.  If people have to travel through Syrian territory to get to/from points beyond these traditional “gateways,” then so do goods and natural resource such as oil and natural gas pipelines.

Understand that and you can begin to understand part of the on-going conflict in the Middle East today.                                                                                 

By. Claude Salhani for Oilprice.com

Claude Salhani, a specialist in conflict resolution, is an independent journalist, political analyst and author of several books on the region. His latest book, 'Islam Without a Veil,' is published by Potomac Books. He tweets @claudesalhani.




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • Hans Nieder on October 03 2012 said:
    "There is a popular belief in the Middle East that Washington’s foreign policy, particularly as it relates to this precarious region, is largely driven by America’s dependency on, and insatiable appetite for Arab oil. One can make a good argument for that."

    Oh dear, our insatiable appetite for Arabic oil (Persian Gulf) is only 13% of import, while Red China is about 55%..

    Mr Salhani, the China High Commission on Oil, expects your call tomorrow...
  • ymah on October 05 2012 said:
    Oil is clearly a driver. Just look at the recently discovered oil/gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea along the shores of Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus. This may provide a clearer view point on how energy sources is still playing a role in this expanded conflict.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News