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SYRIA: Theory for a Possible End Game

Bottom Line: In the end, geopolitics is always about natural resources, and almost always about fossil fuels specifically. Following this logic, the end game in Syria could very well be about the Levant Basin (for Qatar and Iran we already know it’s about pipelines from the South Pars gas field).

Analysis: On an internal level, control of Syria’s onshore oilfields is important, but there’s not enough oil onshore to be a game-changer. Syria’s two main centers of onshore oil production are in its eastern province, the north of which is largely Kurdish-dominated territory. In the north-east, the Kurds seem to be largely in control of these fields in a very tentative nod to the regime. Elsewhere in the east, the rebels have largely taken control of these fields, which are now vulnerable to theft and smuggling and as such not producing much for the regime.  This control hurts the regime, but does nothing to benefit the rebels since the regime still controls the country’s two refineries and the rebels are not cohesive enough to take advantage of these oilfields.

What we’re really interested in here is not Syria’s onshore oil, but it’s offshore potential in the prized Levant Basin in the Mediterranean Sea. Earlier this month, the Syrian regime tried to get China and Russia interested in exploring for oil and gas in its part of the Levant Basin. This is of course very complicated. Russia and China would certainly like to get their hands on exploration licenses…




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