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SYRIA: EU Lifts Oil Embargo to Help ‘Opposition’

Bottom Line: The European Union has lifted its oil embargo on Syria ostensibly to provide “economic support” to the rebels fighting the Assad regime, but the rebels—40%+ infiltrated by Sunni jihadist groups—are not cohesive enough to make use of the oil fields they now nominally control, and the Assad regime controls the country’s two refineries.

Analysis: When the EU on Monday lifted its oil embargo on Syria, it should have taken anyone who has a clear understanding of what is going on in Syria right now by surprise. In the north, the Kurds control one oilfield—purportedly protecting it on behalf of Assad, but in reality they are controlling it for themselves and production is a fraction of what it used to be. Elsewhere, the rebels control oilfields and production has been replaced by theft and smuggling (as well as plenty of incidents in which locals are injured attempting to take advantage of the fuel anarchy). It also comes as a surprise because the regime still controls the refineries, so with the embargo lifted, only the regime can benefit, were it to be allowed to resume exports, which it won’t. The EU claims that lifting the embargo will help the rebels to export from territory they control—but without refineries? The EU seems to think this will spur “investment” in the Syrian oil industry. Indeed, at a meeting in Luxembourg over the weekend, EU officials talked about “export or investment initiatives…

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