The No.1 priority of the Trump administration’s Syria policy is seizing the country’s oil resources, wrote Benjamin Hart in a New York Magazine article published on Friday.
Hart writes that “there is one thing about the chaotic situation that does seem to preoccupy the president: oil. Precious, precious oil. Over the past weeks, through tweets and public statements, he has made it clear that he considers the protection of it a very high priority.”
Donald Trump has nonchalantly bragged about “taking control” of Syria’s oil in the past weeks. He brought up the subject on Friday again, tweeting: “When these pundit fools who have called the Middle East wrong for 20 years ask what we are getting out of the deal, I simply say, THE OIL, AND WE ARE BRINGING OUR SOLDIERS BACK HOME, ISIS SECURED!”
....COMING HOME! We were supposed to be there for 30 days - That was 10 years ago. When these pundit fools who have called the Middle East wrong for 20 years ask what we are getting out of the deal, I simply say, THE OIL, AND WE ARE BRINGING OUR SOLDIERS BACK HOME, ISIS SECURED!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2019
Interestingly, “the oil” in here comes before the long-promised return of American soldiers and neutralising the terror threat.
“The question of why the US has the right to another country’s oil — especially as it is supposedly completely withdrawing from that country — has received surprisingly little attention amid the ongoing disaster in Syria,” Hart points out. “But the notion that American’s central goal in the Middle East is plunder of natural resources recalls conspiracy theories around the US invasion of Iraq.”
In 2013, Trump indeed expressed his bemusement over why the United States “left Iraq without the oil.”
I still can’t believe we left Iraq without the oil.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 23, 2013
Formerly US-backed Kurdish militias that have for years been waging a fight against terrorists in Syria currently control vast swathes of territory in the oil-rich north-east of the country. The Damascus government has refused to endorse the de facto autonomy of the Kurd's Rojava and has been deploying troops into formerly Kurdish-held areas that saw the pull-out of Kurdish troops as a result of the Turkish offensive.
Despite ordering the withdrawal of nearly all 1,000 US troops from Syria, the Pentagon is planning to send tanks and combat troops into eastern Syria, citing a need to protect Kurdish-controlled oil fields, recaptured from Daesh*, from a potential resurgence of terror .
In the meantime, Trump is considering the possibility of “keeping” the Syrian oil with the help of US companies, and his allies in Congress are considering “upgrading” the oil wells to help the Kurds profit from oil exports. Senator Lindsay Graham made it clear that there is no talk of returning the oil to Syria’s government, when he said on 21 October that neither the sanctions-hit Iranians nor Bashar al-Assad should benefit from it.
On Saturday, Russia’s Defence Ministry released satellite recordings said to prove that the the Kurds are extracting and smuggling Syrian oil out of the country “under the protection of US troops and the employees of US private military companies.”
A ministry spokesman said the US-supervised illegal oil operations brought in over $30 million per month in revenue and described them as “international state banditry.”
*Aka ISIS/IS/Islamic State, a terror group outlawed by Russia, the UN, the US and numerous other countries.