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MIDDLE EAST

Syria: It’s All About The Gas Pipelines

What we don’t hear about often when Syria is discussed are the two competing oil pipelines vying to run through Syria. Both pipelines seek to connect the largest natural gas field in the world, located 3000 meters below the floor of the Persian Gulf, to the gas happy market in Europe. Qatar owns roughly two-thirds of the the mineral rights to the Persian Gulf gas field and Iran owns the other one third. One pipeline starts in Qatar and runs through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey into Europe. We will call this the Qatar pipeline. The other pipeline runs from Iran through Iraq and Syria and into the Mediterranean Sea. This we will call the Iranian pipeline.
Both you will notice run through Syria. The first pipeline proposed to Assad was the Qatar pipeline and he rejected the proposal. Assad then later approved the Iranian pipeline, which was expected to be completed in 2016, but the Syrian war disrupted that. Now let’s look at the Syrian war: Russia and Iran are supporting Assad, while the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Turkey are supporting the rebels. So the Qatar pipeline was rejected by Assad and it just so happens that the countries with a vested interest in that pipeline are supporting the rebels. While the countries with an interest in the pipeline approved by Assad are supporting him. It’s always about the money.

Why is Russia Involved?

Why does Russia have an interest in the Iranian pipeline? Russia is an oil/gas nation. In fact 80 per cent of the gas that Russian state-controlled company Gazprom produces is sold to Europe, so maintaining this crucial market is very important. Russia needs to stay a player in the European market for gas. However, the United States and Europe have been pushing for Europe to decrease their dependency on Russian gas. Russia tends to use it’s gas as a weapon of leverage in international affairs and has a history of cutting off gas to country’s in conflict. Qatar is home to a U.S. military base, so the idea of a new gas line running from Qatar to supply Europe would be in direct competition with Russia originating in a country unfriendly to Russia. But an Iranian pipeline is a pipeline that Russia can work with as Iran and Russia are friendly. It’s also worth noting that Saudi Arabia is currently bombing Yemen, a country they would also like to build a pipeline through. Middle East Eye columnist Nafeez Ahmed, citing a 2008 State Department cable from Wikileaks, has confirmed the Saudi interest in building a pipeline that is “wholly owned, operated and protected by Saudi Arabia, through Hadramawt (Yemen) to a port on the Gulf of Aden.” So the mideast is all about pipelines. Looking at mideast affairs through the lens of pipelines starts to clear things up.

Is Assad a Brutal Dictator?

Most likely Syria had a legitimate civilian uprising. I recently made a connection with a Syrian through the world of social media and she explained that the reason 99% of Syrians voted for Assad was because they were afraid they would go to jail (or worse) if they voted otherwise. This makes sense, what democratic election is actually won by a 99% vote? So the Arab Spring inspires civilian uprisings throughout the mideast and Syria. A civil war ensues, but then opportunistic foreign countries jump on the situation to promote their own interests. Instead of remaining neutral or entering into the conflict to promote peace and provide humanitarian relief they instead start funneling money and weapons to support their side. Essentially Syria became a proxy war for the opposing sides of the pipeline interests. The U.S., Iran, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia all add fuel to the fire. And why? Because of oil and money. Humanity advances when we move towards democracy, due process and a civilized means of handling conflict and away from fueling violent conflicts for our self-interests.

Remember, much of the mess in the mideast is a result of the history of outsider countries meddling in their affairs. Robert Kennedy Junior wrote a great piece on EcoWatch documenting decades of U.S./CIA underhanded involvement in mideast affairs. As he notes the U.S. repeatedly started and/or supported coups throughout the mideast to unseat leaders who were unfriendly to U.S. oil interests and replaced them with US oil friendly leaders. The convoluted history of the U.S./CIA involvement in Syria and the mideast weaves through decades of assassinations, coupes, regime changes, shady alliances, etc. In one example from Kennedy’s article he states:

“The CIA began its active meddling in Syria in 1949—barely a year after the agency’s creation. Syrian patriots had declared war on the Nazis, expelled their Vichy French colonial rulers and crafted a fragile secularist democracy based on the American model. But in March of 1949, Syria’s democratically elected president, Shukri-al-Kuwaiti, hesitated to approve the Trans Arabian Pipeline, an American project intended to connect the oil fields of Saudi Arabia to the ports of Lebanon via Syria. In his book, Legacy of Ashes, CIA historian Tim Weiner recounts that in retaliation, the CIA engineered a coup, replacing al-Kuwaiti with the CIA’s handpicked dictator, a convicted swindler named Husni al-Za’im. Al-Za’im barely had time to dissolve parliament and approve the American pipeline before his countrymen deposed him, 14 weeks into his regime.”

Kennedy’s full article is a must read. The details of Syria go on but the bottom line is oil and pipelines clearly are at the very least a significant part of the Syrian war and the Saudi Arabian bombing of Yemen. Yet why don’t we hear about this in mainstream media? We instead are sold an idea of the U.S. as using its militarily power solely to defend human rights. Should we believe that our military motives are solely humanitarian when we are fueling wars and bombing Syria/terrorists/killing innocent civilians? And we do so without any regard for due process? Keep in mind the U.S. is no stranger to using chemical weapons of our own.

Syria is not an easy situation and there is no easy solution. But Trump has only escalated the frequency of the Syrian attacks and increased our troop presence there. (Ironically, a 2015 Business Insider article reported that Trump owns stock in Raytheon the very company that makes the Tomahawk missiles which we just fired at Syria). The U.S. hasn’t declared war since World War II and yet we live in a state of perpetual war. Clearly war begets war. ISIS in fact is reported as wanting U.S. troops on the ground in the mideast because it will increase their recruiting and it fits their narrative of an apocalyptic holy war where Islam comes out the winner.  How about for once someone tells the truth to the American people about all of the motives behind our foreign policy. How about concern for the Syrian people is placed above concern for an oil pipeline? How about the government of the U.S. acts like the shining example of democracy and protector of human rights it’s citizen believe and hope it to be?

 

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Lauren von Bernuth

Lauren is one of the co-founders of Citizen Truth. She graduated with a degree in Political Economy from Tulane University. She spent the following years backpacking around the world and starting a green business in the health and wellness industry. She found her way back to politics and discovered a passion for journalism dedicated to finding the truth.

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