[New Eastern Outlook has some of the most insightful commentary of any site these days and this article correctly describes what is really happening in Syria and why. You won't find this anywhere in the MSM.]
In a fundamental sense the entirety of the five-year-long war over Syria, as well as the entire Arab Spring from Libya to Egypt to Iraq has been about control of hydrocarbon resources—oil and natural gas– and of potential hydrocarbon pipelines to the promising markets of the European Union.
At this point it looks more and more as if Russia’s geopolitical and geo-economic strategy is trumping (no Donald pun intended) Washington’s very troubled game in the region. Turkey is apparently deciding to become a key ally in this Russian energy trump.
Now the fact that the frozen Gazprom Turkish Stream project is not only back in discussion, but also advancing concretely under the direct eye of Erdoğan’s son-in-law suggests that, despite appearances of cutting a deal with Washington on Syria and the Syrian Kurds after the August 24 emergency talks of US Vice President, Joe Biden, Erdoğan is very serious about developing strategic ties with Russia.
Now Turkey, with the clear assent of Moscow, has apparently prevented a Kurd separate enclave on Turkey’s border that threatened to link in the future with the Turkish Kurds. Clearly there is a good deal of behind-the-scene horse trading between Moscow and Ankara over strategic issues essential to both. Natural gas flows are at the center.
With the advance of the Turkish Stream project, Turkey and Russia are now positioned to trump repeated efforts of Washington and their NATO allies to force Russia and Gazprom out of the EU and open the door for US control of the huge EU natural gas market.
The first step in the US effort to break links between Russia and Western Europe was Washington’s February, 2014 coup d’ etat in Ukraine, referred to by Stratfor’s George Friedman as the “most blatant coup in US history.” In an interview with Moscow’s Kommersant paper that he perhaps today regrets, Friedman, then a Pentagon and CIA consultant, openly admitted that the geopolitical aim of the entire US-led Maidan Square Color Revolution was not at all to force “democracy” on Ukraine, but rather to block growing ties between Germany and Putin’s Russia.
As Friedman noted, “the most dangerous potential alliance, from the perspective of the United States, was considered to be an alliance between Russia and Germany. This would be an alliance of German technology and capital with Russian natural and human resources.” And gas pipeline wars are at the center of that US effort to block Russia economic links in the EU.
The rupture of ties between Erdogan and Russia’s Putin following the shooting in Syrian airspace of a Russian jet on November 24, 2015 appeared to leave Washington in the Catbird Seat in relation to control of EU natural gas flows. The only step remaining would be to be certain Washington and her allies also controlled the available non-Russian natural gas reserves that would feed the growing EU gas market. Here we find the true agenda behind Washington’s five-year-long war for regime change in Damascus, a war with terrorist groups such as ISIS or Al Nusra Front-Al Qaeda in Syria financed largely by money from Qatar.
The Syrian Gas Pipeline War
Russia’s decision to enter the Syrian war on the call of Syrian President Bashar al Assad on September 30, 2015 is also strategically and geopolitically tied to the entire issue of the future supplies of European Union natural gas. This is a carefully-obscured background to what is one of the longest and most bitter proxy wars in history. As some foolish US and UK geopolitical circles see it, who controls the future natural gas flows of the EU has ultimate control over the EU, at least to a major extent.
The 28 member countries of the European Union today are the world’s largest natural gas import market. The domestic supply sources in the UK and Holland sectors of the North Sea are rapidly declining. Further, Norway’s offshore natural gas reserves are in dramatic decline and the state has apparently decided to not invest in more costly production projects but to focus on renewable energy.
Only 35% of the European Union’s gas demand is met by domestic production, with the rest imported mainly from Russia (40%), Norway (30%), Algeria (13%) and 8% from Qatar. By 2025, the EU is expected to be importing over 80% of its natural gas. This control over the future EU natural gas market is where the “prize” as Dick Cheney called it in his now infamous 1999 London Institute of Petroleum speech, ultimately lies. The only significant import sources of stable supplies of natural gas to meet EU demand over coming decades aside from Russia are Qatar and Iran, with US LNG from shale gas a far distant prospect at current low prices.
In July, 2011 Assad along with the leaders of Iran and Iraq announced they were planning an alternative to the Qatar-Syria-Turkey EU gas pipeline bringing natural gas from South Pars, the Iranian side of the same giant field as Qatar.
The new Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon gas pipeline would be a direct competitor to not only the Qatar-Turkey pipeline but to Washington’s ill-fated Nabucco gas pipeline intending to use Azeri gas fields controlled by US and UK oil majors. In rejecting the Qatar offer in 2009 Bashar al Assad stated his reason was “to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.”
Instead, Assad pursued negotiations for an alternative $10 billion pipeline plan with Iran, across Iraq to Syria that would potentially allow Iran to supply gas to Europe from its South Pars field. In July 2012 Assad signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Iraq and Iran. That was the precise point when the US gave the green light to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to back regime change in Damascus—mad pipeline geopolitics.
It remains to be seen of the latest Russia-Turkey accord on Turkish Stream includes definitive Turkish shift in backing anti-Assad terror groups inside Syria from across the Turkish border. If so, it would deal a devastating defeat to not only Qatar and the hapless Saudi monarchy. It could potentially reopen the door for a Russia-backed Iran gas pipeline via Iraq and Syria and now Turkey to the EU.
Will that in turn make Moscow the winner on the global gas pipeline wars? Or will it merely be the trigger for a new round of Washington wars over energy pipelines at a time when the world is moving away from oil and gas?
The Turkish paper, Hurriyet in a review of the latest Russia-Turkey gas negotiations remarks, “Turkish-Russian relations are warming again following the plane crisis that stopped the world’s largest energy investments.”
They warn that the US and the EU may try to do everything possible to block implementation of not just the Turkish Stream pipeline, but also construction by Russia of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant in Turkey. The newspaper says the West would likely do so through “support of terrorist organizations and warmongering. Isn’t the statement ‘We will bring peace and democracy to the Middle East’ simply a guise for ‘oil wars’?” they ask. It seems they know the answer.