By Themistocles Konstantinou.
Syria is on an endless civil war or better, a “war game” and no-one can see when the “game” ends. And why i call this bloodshed a “game”? Because it is a “game”, … a dirty one!
It is the same as we saw in Libya (Despite the fact that in Libya is not finished yet!), or Iraq, Iran (Not yet fully played), Mali, Nigeria, Central Africa Republic, Sudan etc. etc. But what is that element, which defines the term «game»? Only one: “Recourses”. And Resources (except the geopolitical value, which is great) means “Profit”!
Syria is currently the “theater” that Western nations want to “show” to the international “public opinion.” We have not be seduced by the rhetoric of Europe about the use of chemical weapons by Assad, or observance of international law etc. etc. (The “fiasco” with Carla Del Ponte is “fresh”). These are communication tricks rather than reflect the reality. The same was said many years ago for Saddam in Iraq that eventually never proved – at least not all! The propaganda has always been a weapon of the “powerful of the world”.
But we have to examine the data realistically from a different perspective: that of energy.
The whole issue has begun 5 years ago. The start has been made since the days when Russia had that conflict with Ukraine – Generally known as “Gas War” – and half of Europe been frozen because of the “pipe struggling” for many days. Closing the taps, Ukraine essentially blackmailed Europe to press Russia more on the finance issue with Ukraine. Europe will never forget the “frozen” period.
From that moment began an underground game with energy resources, in all over the world, where similar we never saw before. Neither the energy crisis with “OPEC ” in the 70s decade with the known “embargoes».
Syria under this “view” is a key pillar of Western policy in two main areas:
Satisfying Turkey which playing the game supporting Western interests and tries to take advantage of the fact to end once and for all with the Kurdish issue by upgrading it from local to international. Essentially seeking the annihilation of the Kurdish “problem” in Turkish territories. It is obvious why Abdullah Öcalan announced few weeks ago the unilateral ceasefire and general cessation of all hostilities of the militant organization Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) against Turkish military, with the encouragement of peaceful cohabitation etc. etc. He is very clever. He realized what takes place in Syria and how it is being exploited by Turkey and trying to win as many as possible he can, because he believes the whole situation serves the Turkish policy on the Kurdish issue that plagued Turkey for 3 decades. Or tried to help his people – seeing major changes in the region – to mitigate sulfate Turkish actions against them.
(We have not forget, that the Kurds are the key / ethnicity for 5 nations: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Turkey and Kurdistan. Settlement of the Kurdish issue in general, facilitate Turkey, where the degree course will help to shape the “policies” on the subject – than to pathetically accept – having acquired the right analogically because of its involvement in the Syrian crisis. In March 2005, Abdullah Öcalan issued the Declaration of Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan calling for a border-free confederation between the Kurdish regions of Eastern Turkey (called “Northwest Kurdistan” by Kurdish nationalists), East Syria (“Small part of South Kurdistan”), Northern Iraq (“South Kurdistan”), and West of Iran (“East Kurdistan”). In this zone, three bodies of law would be implemented: EU law, Turkish/Syrian/Iraqi/Iranian law and Kurdish law. This perspective was included in the PKK program following the “Refoundation Congress” in April 2005.*) Already after Turkey’s demand (?), or negotiation, six PATRIOT batteries are installed in the border line with Syria on the pretext of defense from the Syrians. Some analysts – including me – believe that these modern and expensive weapons systems will not leave ever from Turkey. Turkey is a key-player on the “game” and won.
B. Second – and not so well known in the mass media – the conveying of oil and gas from the region to final destination, (the thirsty for cheap and abundant energy) Europe and without having to go through Turkey (Probably due to PKK’s dangerous actions despite the already announced unilateral truce). In essence seeking alternate solution and detox from the leader Russia. Already, Norway and the UK cannot feed sufficiently Europe (and especially Germany), but in this case the pumping cost and transfer is high. In this pattern raises the question of passage and therefore control of the territories they will pass pipelines.
We read in a very good article written in October 2012 – almost a year ago! – by F. William Engdahl with a title : «Syria, Turkey, Israel and the Greater Middle East Energy War» : “The significant question to be asked at this point is what could bind Israel, Turkey, Qatar in a form of unholy alliance on the one side, and Assad’s Syria, Iran, Russia and China on the other side, in such deadly confrontation over the political future of Syria? One answer is energy geopolitics…….. The only realistic way EU governments, from Germany to France to Italy to Spain, will be able to meet EU mandated CO2 reduction targets by 2020 is a major shift to burning gas instead of coal…….Huge gas resource discoveries in Israel, in Qatar and in Syria combined with the emergence of the EU as the world’s potentially largest natural gas consumer, combine to create the seeds of the present geopolitical clash over the Assad regime” (
Following the above we can draw the following conclusions:
Apart from the oil of «Persian Gulf», Europe seeks solutions for the transportation of natural gas from Azerbaijan and the Caspian oil generally. It does not matter who produces, since the goal is Europe not be dependent anymore from Russia. In this dimension, even
more and Iran ** is “controllable” through international sanctions that have been imposed. So the greatest importance to the issue is now where you cross the pipes to reach the European territories. The debate now shifts to who controls those territories. Syria is a key-state because it covers three main specifications:
It is politically vulnerable – thus controllable (Assad seems to bear but it is a matter of time when he and his regime will collapse or will accept to deliver Syria, ensuring a return. Already been an active engagement with Israel ‘s recent bombing and we are only at the beginning ).
Syria and its territories – in the post – Assad era – are the alternative to energy independence from Russian hegemony. (Russia is the key-ally of Assad exactly for that reason. Moscow knows that if Assad falls, loses its dominance in the game and eventually the only available military port in the Mediterranean for the Russian Navy. The mission and eve of the Russian ships in the area and the reconstruction of the Mediterranean flotilla in the area, just expressing the deep interest but also and the agony of Moscow on the developments in Syria. Assad still controls the most part of the country and his father had ceded the port of Tarsus to the Russians for many decades. The Russians don’t want any change of the status quo in the region)
Syria is at the crossroads of the Middle East with relative ease to collect the energy flows from various states with cheap cost, while considered attractive investment destination in the post – Assad era investments in gas and hydrocarbons. Finally is landlocked with development potential multiple infrastructures. ***
Through this geostrategic and geopolitical view we can say that the game now starts to become really dangerous. As everyone understands Syria proved a strong headache for the West much longer than might have been imagined. Some analysts believe that the West is trying to impose solutions that Russians will hardly accept, even with swaps from the side of the West (including Israel). Israel even if he had some objections would withdraw on them if it would provide strong exchange) Finally we should not overlook the fact, that through Syria, Iran is trying to preserve his own future and will help the Assad as he can, trying not to irritate the West.
According to related articles with characteristic titles such as: “Syria Redrawing ME Energy Map”, “The oil road through Damascus”, “Azerbaijan and Georgia: Part of the Supply Route to Syria?” or the Al-Jazeera’s most relevant “Syria’s Pipelineistan war” we can have a huge view of the Puzzle! The Question became more like this: “The Syrian conflict is the cause or the result?”
I am keen to fully support the approach in which Syria’s conflict is the result of the Europe’s need for cheap and lure resources. Syria is not a big oil and gas producer – as we mentioned before – but may determine the shape of the future regional energy map. Ronnie Blewer, in “Asia Times Online”, believes that “Middle East oil transit routes are at risk from Islamist revolutions and Iranian threats. Does Syria present an opportunity for the West to bypass the most troubling oil chokepoints? Is that a strong driver behind the West’s interest in the Syrian rebellion? Instability all along the oil road is at its highest point in decades, and Syria’s history as a perennial spoiler and location as a potential energy path cannot have been missed. “
As we see on the pictures above many plans have been made and many scenario’s about the energy role of Syria. While is not yet a key-nation in the global energy system, the Syrian conflict will have consequences in international energy markets. For this reason the ongoing conflict looks like endless and probably is. Only one can be the key-factor to end the conflict : Russia. Only If Russia decides to end it, the issue will be over. And here is the problem.
The Azeri’s gas and the Iraqi’s oil is the energy foe of Russia and a dynamic competitor….And the issue becomes more complicated! For Europe and US Assad must be down, for Russia is the opposite. Georgia and Azerbaijan – according to some media – playing another role of supporting Assad providing Fuel, weapons and cash but without proves. Claims such as these (About SOCAR sales of Azerbaijani oil products to Syria through the Georgian oil terminal of Kulevi) make the situation perplexed more than ever, despite the fact that officially the two countries support UN sanctions and West against Assad.
We understand now that Syria is more important as an energy crossroads (like Turkey but in lesser size…..yet) Along with the other role in Syrian conflict, Turkey remains a key factor in the area. If we see the different scenarios for Syria, we conclude that Turkey has an energy strategy where Syria is the centerpiece along with Israel’s contrary energy strategy via the Mediterranean’s gas projects. This case is another field of analysis, where we have the involvement of Cyprus, Turkey and Greece. On this, the Syria’s role is explained via the Bassar Al Assad’s plans before the Uprising (a concept introduced by him in early 2011). Last we have not forgotten and the role of big companies like BP and Chevron with their trading interests over the region. ……Just another one piece on the big puzzle…..
* Wikipedia :
** Unfortunately for Iran his fate is linked to both Syria’s and North Korea’s fate but to a lesser extent. And for this reason has been engaged in an arms race – as North Korea – because of fear that he will become the next big target. We have not to forget that Iran has vast oil reserves that are large lure. And as an end I would like to say that the future of Syria is not clear as well as that of Iran.
*** Some financial analysts argue that the pumping and transfer cost for every cubic inch of North-sea’s natural gas is 10 times more expensive the corresponding pumping and transfer cost of natural gas from Caspian Sea through Middle-east and the Mediterranean path to the hubs in Italy or Greece.