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Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy

Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com

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Trump Surrenders 2.5 Billion Barrels Of Oil To Syria

The American president just gifted 2.5 billion barrels of oil to long-time Syrian enemy Bashar Al-Assad and, by default, Iran and Russia.

As far as gifts go, it was both well-received and unexpected given the ‘Deep State’ designs on Syria for years. 

To recap: Last week, Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, and then had them stand down and step aside while the Turkish military poured across the border into Northern Syria, taking down any Kurds that stood in their way. 

After five days of bloodshed, Turkey agreed to a temporary ceasefire at the behest of the Russians. Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan then flew to Sochi to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where the two agreed to a deal that benefits everyone except the U.S.

Under that deal, Turkey will stick to its newly acquired buffer zone in Northern Syria, the Kurds will be allowed to withdraw with their lives, and Assad won’t attack the Turks, who have been fighting the regime in collaboration with Syrian rebels. 

And all that oil that’s in the north--Syria’s fossil fuel heartland--will go to Assad one way or another, with Russia the beneficiary with the exclusive rights to exploit Syrian oil. 

Securing Oil for Others

Last week, Trump tweeted that he had “taken control of oil in the Middle East”.

That tweet went viral--even though no one knew what it meant. 

Taking control of “oil in the Middle East” technically means usurping everything from the riches of the Saudi Kingdom to the vast oilfields of Iran, Kuwait, Iraq … In other words, there’s a lot of oil in the Middle East to take control of.  Related: The U.S. Smashes Another Oil Export Record

As it turns out, he was talking about Syria when he added “the oil that everybody was worried about”. 

And also, as it turns out, he did secure that oil--but for the Assad regime and its allies, Russia and Iran. 

Giving up that oil, the tweet suggests, is a decision that should have been years ago under the Obama Administration. 

In another parting gift, Trump moved today to lift all sanctions against Turkey, declaring the ceasefire in Syria officially over--from a U.S. standpoint. 

Yesterday, Trump said a limited number of troops might remain behind in Syria to guard oil and gas fields in Deir Ezzor, but that is now looking increasingly unlikely. 

"Right now, the president has authorized that some would stay in the southern part of Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said. "And we're looking [at] maybe keeping some additional forces to ensure that we deny ISIS and others access to these key oil fields.

"But that needs to be worked out in time. The president hasn't approved that yet," he said. "I need to take him options sometime here soon."

So much for keeping Syrian oil out of the hands of multiple enemies, from the Assad regime and Iran, to Russia and potentially even ISIS. 

How Much Oil Did Assad Just Inadvertently Secure?

What’s in the ground is 2.5 billion barrels, according to the EIA. And that’s only known reserves as of January 2011. 

For Assad, this was a major coup. Aside from the Idlib province, which is overrun by Syrian rebels, he had managed to regain control of the entire country outside of the Northeastern part, north of the Euphrates, the stronghold of the Syrian Kurds and their now-former American allies.  Related: How Much Oil Is Up For Grabs In Syria?

And north of the Euphrates is also where the bulk of the country’s oil reserves are. 

Assad is desperate for oil. But he won’t be much longer. 

Billions of Barrels of Oil

(Click to enlarge)

Dier Al-Zor (also known as Dier Ezzor) is Assad’s golden ticket to securing full power. 

And it’s home to the Al-Omar fields, which have the largest production capacity in the country. 

This is an oil victory for every single one of America’s enemies in the region. 

For Russia, this is a geopolitical goldmine that will land it a long-sought-after Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline courtesy of Gazprom. It will be a direct line to Europe, where the noose will once again be tightened, while the EU pretends otherwise. 

For Syria, it means the potential to become another Middle East oil and gas hub and more power than Assad could have ever imagined before all of this started. 

For Iran, it’s just another in a series of victories that have come in rapid succession over the past two months--from its brazen attack on Saudi oil facilities that went entirely unanswered, to its victory in Yemen with a fallout in relations between eternal allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

Oil has long been a kingmaker, and it still is. American foreign policy hasn’t just been caught napping; it’s been turned into a suicide by oil.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Balter North on October 23 2019 said:
    probably best interpreted as all Trump decisions are: through the lens of his personal ambitions and defenses - who wants to bet they threatened to release personally damaging information? and what's a few thousand dead and tortured Kurds to protect us from that?
  • Steven Conn on October 23 2019 said:
    Syrian oil belongs to the Syrian state, so claiming that Trump "gifted it" is fully incorrect. US is illegally occupying Syrian lands. Also, Assad is not US enemy, but US support for various "rebels" made US Assad's enemy. The article unfortunately offers a twisted take on this issue.
  • Mamdouh Salameh on October 24 2019 said:
    The oil in Syria is not America’s for President Trump to gift to anybody. Moreover, America shouldn’t have been there in the first place. It just gatecrashed into Syria uninvited under the pretext of fighting ISIS when in fact it was helping the opposition to topple Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

    The truth of the matter is that the United States’ position in Syria has become untenable in the aftermath of the ceasefire agreement between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Putin.

    The United States is behaving as if it owns the oil. President Trump had even the temerity to talk about bringing an oil company (probably American) to look after the oilfields and giving some of the oil revenue to Syrian Kurds. But his main objectives are to use the oil revenue to pay for US troop deployment in Syria and above all continue to starve Syria of its own oil.

    However, President Trump will have to face the hard facts that most of the oilfields in the Deir Ezzor region of Syria are under control of the Syrian Kurds who will repay his betrayal of them by surrendering the oilfields to the Syrian government in exchange for protection.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • Hugh Williams on October 24 2019 said:
    Imagine, Trump gives Syrian owned oil to Syria. How weird that is for US policy.
  • Jonathan Flesher on October 24 2019 said:
    The President is simply a moron who has zero idea what he is doing. I have been saying for years we need to get out of the Middle East however this President has single handedly destroyed the U.S.'s worldwide reputation with friend and foe alike. The sad fact is that he thinks he is doing good. The even worst fact is that people in the US still like him. He is not what the America I grew up with stands for.
  • Joseph Sherwood on October 24 2019 said:
    I dislike the assumptions made in this article considering they have no basis in reality. Nobody has the oil in the ground yet. There is no definitive resolution made concerning how America's role in Syria will ultimately play out. The article assumes a series of worst case scenarios and assumes the US will watch 2.5B barrels of oil be extracted from the ground in Syria, somehow exit the Syrian border, and somehow be sold to benefit ISIS and Iran. We have a president who understands the value of oil globally. This isn't a repeat of ISIS and northern Iraq Kurdistan oil a la Obama JV team.
  • Charles Breiterman on October 25 2019 said:
    The oil is located in Syria and so it belongs to the nation of Syria. The internationally recognized government of Syria is the Assad regime. So the oil is rightfully being returned to the Assad regime. As noted in the article and reaffirmed by the Trump administration recently, steps are being taken to make sure that the oil does not fall under the control of ISIS. Since ISIS is also the enemy of Syria, Russia, and Iran (since Iran is Shia and has significantly helped in the fight against ISIS), the parties should be able to come to a practical agreement to keep the oil out of the hands of ISIS. So this article is almost entirely off-base.

    "And all that oil that’s in the north--Syria’s fossil fuel heartland--will go to Assad one way or another,...." .... "And also, as it turns out, he did secure that oil--but for the Assad regime and its allies, Russia and Iran." ... "So much for keeping Syrian oil out of the hands of multiple enemies, from the Assad regime and Iran, to Russia and potentially even ISIS. "

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