Syria: Obama And Clinton’s War for Natural Gas?

Now that President Obama has given in to Hilary Clinton, Bill Clinton and John McCain and announced that he will send US weapons to the rebels in Syria, it is important to look one of the under-reported subjects of the war: natural gas.

Specifically, natural gas from the South Pars/North Dome reserves, the largest in the world.

The Syrian Civil War has become a proxy fight in the “Great Game” geo-politics of energy and power in the New World Order. A columnist published by the Guardian in the UK lays it out like this:

  • On the one side: Russia and Iran supporting the repugnant dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad as part of a plan to run a natural gas pipeline from North Dome to Russia, increasing Iranian and Russian power in the European natural gas markets
  • On the other side: Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Syrian rebels plan an alternate pipeline to Turkey and thus to Europe, generating the support of France, Germany and now the United States

Or, as Milad Jokar writes in the Huffington Post:

“…the conflict can be viewed as a broader struggle between mainly Russia and Western countries which attempt to advance their national interests. For the West these interests are isolating Iran and bolstering the strategic and economic alliance with Arab allies like Qatar, which invests in Europe and offers an alternative to Russian gas.”

Natural gas may not be the central issue propelling the increasingly venomous civil war, but it may be a key reason why the US and European nations are involving themselves in this particular conflict.

The rebels are struggling against a tyrannical regime, but also are working with self-proclaimed al Qaeda groups. Many have noted that the war is now a sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shiite groups and is spreading into other nations like Iraq.  Should the United States send arms that may end up in the hands of al Qaeda? Should we insert ourselves into another Middle East conflict that cuts through the heart of Islamic society?

Obama and his supporters argue that arming the rebels will force the Assad regime to negotiate a settlement. But how likely is that? 93,000 Syrians have already been killed. How many more will die as Russia arms Assad’s Baathist regime and the United States arms the Free Syrian Army? How much blood money will the profiteers of the military-industrial complex and the fossil fuel industry make?

The wars in Korea and Vietnam killed between 5 and 8 million people, mostly civilians. In both, the United States armed one side while the Soviet Union and China armed the other, until eventually American troops fought and died. Vietnam and Iraq were justified by President Johnson and President Bush on flimsy evidence of an attack in the Gulf of Tonkin and the presence of WMDs. Will it happen again?

And finally, why aren’t any major US media outlets reporting on the role of natural gas in this mess?

Addenda: I recommend watching the PBS Frontline documentary “Syria: Behind the Lines.” It captures a few days in the war and the morass of ethnic and religious divisions that inform the conflict. While some would like the American public to perceive the rebels as freedom fighters valorously rejecting the yoke of Assad tyranny, the reality seems far more complex. The chilling words of a wounded rebel soldier’s mother towards the end of the film make it clear the US may have no useful role in this conflict.

Thomas Pynchon – “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”


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