After President Trump suggested on Sunday that he would like to make a deal with Exxon Mobil or “one of our great companies” to go into occupied Syria and take the oil, one of the few former top defense officials to explicitly condemn the plan which clearly smacks of naked US imperialism was retired General Barry McCaffrey.
Referencing Trump's comments, an outraged McCaffrey posed the question on Twitter, "WHAT ARE WE BECOMING... PIRATES?"
Trump comment US intends to keep the oil in Syria. Guard with US armored forces. Bring in US oil companies to modernize the field. WHAT ARE WE BECOMING.... PIRATES? If ISIS is defeated we lack Congressional authority to stay. The oil belongs to Syria. https://t.co/Leko5s1hXF— Barry R McCaffrey (@mccaffreyr3) October 28, 2019
He further stressed that the oil "belongs to Syria" and that ultimately "we lack Congressional authority to stay" in the country at all.
The former US Army four-star and MSNBC regular was one the few mainstream pundits this week to critique Washington's Syria policy by questioning the entirety of America's presence there in the first place, essentially calling it 'illegal'.
The United States Military Securing Syria's Oil. https://t.co/7pl3J6Qn2w— Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) October 29, 2019
Most establishment commentators have thus far ignored the imperialist aggression aspect of what appears a big oil grab on yet another US-occupied piece of the Middle East, and opted to argue the Pentagon should be "doing more" for the Syrian Kurds —meaning more of the same endless US occupation.
On Monday Defense Secretary Mark Esper spelled out that the deployment of some few hundred US troops will deny Syrian government access to oilfields in the northeast, instead of ensuring they stay in Kurdish-led SDF hands. Related: Is OPEC Doing Enough To Counter The Looming Oil Glut?
The immediate justification given by the Pentagon chief was the usual 'defeat ISIS' mantra (despite, ironically, their leader Baghdadi being taken out in Saturday's US raid into Idlib).
"We want to make sure that SDF does have access to the resources in order to guard the [IS] prisons, in order to arm their own troops, in order to assist us with the 'defeat ISIS' mission," Esper said.
One international legal expert, Anthony Cordesman, told The Guardian of the Pentagon plan that, “In international law, you can’t take civilian goods or seize them. That would amount to a war crime.”
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Furthermore, President Trump doesn’t care an iota if the Syrian people suffer in winter for lack of heating fuel as long as he starves Syria of its own oil, delays the end of the civil war there and continues to stir trouble in Syria.
US Defence Secretary Mark Esper, like his boss President Trump, talks about Syria’s oil resources as if they belong to the United States. He is saying that the United States will ensure that they stay in Kurdish-led SDF hands. He and his boss are trying to repent for abandoning the Syrian Kurds who were America’s allies until a week ago by offering them Syria’s oil.
However, the Syrian Kurds are Syrian citizens first and foremost and therefore should share the oil along with the rest of Syria’s population.
Still, most of the oilfields are held by the Syrian Kurds who will never forget President Trump’s betrayal and will repay him by surrendering the oilfields sooner or later 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
As an American I find it amusing that after the U.S. occupations of Egypt, Iran, and Iraq, this paltry violation of decency has finally disgraced the U.S. I feel our friends only exist because of outlandish monetary contributions.
Disgraceful is a nation with our wealth and ability would require that Venezuelan oil was shipped to the U.S. for winter fuel relief to needy Americans in the past.
I hope we can do better one day.