According to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, this is the chief military goal of the US in the war-torn country, which will include sending more troops and tanks to “deny access” to the oil reserves to either Russia or the Syrian government.
The US is trying to build this narrative under the pretext of keeping ISIL from reclaiming the oil deposits, since they held them once. The problem is that the terrorist group is already on the run and barely exists. In addition, keeping Syria’s oil away from Syria is a potential problem under international law and the Charter of United Nations - no matter the US gives some of the money to the Kurdish SDF to support its military mission there or not.
This is while the oil theft business has shamelessly been going on for years, with no backlash from the international community. Indeed, the new oil scheme without Syria’s consent is not the first of the Pentagon campaign to ensure the illicit trade will go on as usual. It’s part of a planned provocation to escalate the conflict. On the other side of the country, the same provocation plan entails support for occupation and providing sanctuary for ISIL's rival Salafi and Takfiri terrorist groups (including Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra or the Al-Nusra Front) who are foot soldiers in America’s resource war against Syria.
What’s more, the US needs Northern Syria for its international commodity dealers, oil autocrats and the rest of the official Washington crew, all belonging to “the indispensable nation,” who fund Pentagon and soaring national security state budgets through their purchase of black-market oil. Lest we forget, Russia just recently revealed aerial surveillance and satellite imagery showing oil-tanker trucks stretching from US-controlled territory into the Mediterranean and beyond.
Together, they have been smuggling Syrian oil to other countries under the protection of US troops before and after the defeat of ISIL. According to Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov, “Oil was actively extracted and massively exported for processing outside Syria, under the reliable protection of US troops, before and after the defeat of ISIL.”
In our grim world, consider it an irony that tank trucks guarded by US military servicemen and private military companies are still smuggling oil from the illegally occupied fields in Syria to other countries. These are the same reserves that should be used for reconstruction efforts, which may cost as much as 200 billion US dollars, including support for the rightful owners of the oil - civilians, internally displaced persons, and refugees.
Significantly, the plot thickens when we realise the Syrian oil is extracted with the use of the equipment supplied by certain Western corporations. Given that the cost of one barrel of oil smuggled from Syria is reportedly 38 US dollars or more, the monthly revenue of this illegal business exceeds 30 million US dollars. No wonder President Trump says some American troops will remain in Syria to expedite the “state-sponsored banditry”.
These are serious allegations that the US can no longer afford to downplay. In fact, the evidence to the allegations is so huge that it has forced US officials to change their tune - after previous denials. Here is the strange thing with the way they are presenting this new moral low. From one hand, they admit they are involved in trading Syrian oil. On the other, they claim it is “of no significance,” which is wilful ignorance.
And that should qualify as odd indeed. Based on the mounting evidence gathered by Russia, the amount of oil being smuggled is extremely high, is worth hundreds of millions of US dollars, and has increased over time. The US State Department admits it is still business as usual, which proves the Trump administration is well aware of the dealings and does nothing about it - trading their integrity instead.
The major architects of the Syrian tragedy should take note. Their dream of having the Arab state under their belts is down in flames. They should stop fooling themselves with new geopolitical-financial motivations. By any possible interpretation of international law, if there’s any side of the war the international community should be joining, it’s not with the US and its oil autocrats. It’s with Russia, Iran, Syria, and Turkey.
In the midst of such an embarrassing story, unless something is done properly, Washington’s black-market oil trade will destroy any hope left for peace and democracy in Syria. From Iran, Russia and Turkey to Europe, every government actively involved in the Syrian peace process bears responsibility for stopping this illegal scheme. It is their responsibility to stop Washington and its oil autocrats on their tracks.
It is also their responsibility to step up the international campaign to settle the Syrian refugee question, and back restoration of Syria’s territorial integrity. In the era of Washington’s non-stop military intervention, if they ditch their responsibilities, or worse, steer away from the UN Charter and international law, it will become even more difficult to find a comprehensive, constitutional solution for the Syria tragedy.