Energy war and Syria: Mediterranean lockout?
The situation in Syria, where the US has deliberately been destroying energy infrastructure under the mantra of fighting the ISIL, can also be viewed from the same prism of petro-politics. The natural gas off the Levantine coastline that encompasses Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Gaza hold immense reserves of natural gas. Here too the US is working to push out Russia and to control the gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Since 2000, Russian engineering construction company Stroytransgaz has been active in Syria and received contracts to build two gas refineries in the Homs area and to construct the Syrian portion of the Arab Gas Pipeline that connects Lebanon and Syria to Jordan and Egypt. Another Russian energy company, Soyuzneftegaz, got a tender from Damascus to operate on its eastern border with Iraq in 2004. In 2007, the Syria Gas Company (SGC) and Stroytransgaz agreed to jointly work on developing the natural gas reserves discovered in the fields of Homs. Amidst the crisis in Syria, Soyuzneftegaz signed an important offshore exploration agreement with Damascus on December 25, 2013.
Moreover, it just so happens that the crisis in Syria erupted during negations between Syria, Iraq, and Iran to build a gas pipeline from the world’s largest natural gas field to the Syrian coast. Damascus signed the agreement with Iraq and Iran on June 25, 2011. Until the contract was cancelled in 2009, Stroytransgaz was even supposed to connect the pipeline between the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and the Syrian port of Baniyas.
Qatar and Turkey were hostile to the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline agreement since it sidelined them as a natural gas exporter and as an energy corridor. The possibility that the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline could be used to export gas to the EU as a lower-priced rival to US LNG also had to be viewed negatively in Washington.
What the fighting in Syria and Iraq has done is put this project on hold whereas regime change will nullify it.
Destabilization as US Bargaining Tactic?
While the US has been stoking tensions in Europe to help it in the TTIP negations with Brussels, the Pentagon has been redeploying to the Middle East. The Pentagon-led buildup in the region is about anything but fight ISIL. In part, it may be tied to US nuclear negations with Iran. On top of other goals, the US-led military buildup could be intended to give Washington additional leverage against Tehran in the nuclear talks.
Creating instability looks to be part of a packaged approach. Whatever the case is, its creation appears to be used to support US negotiations and bargaining. This is very clear in the case of the tension in Ukraine, where Washington is using the crisis to its advantage in TTIP talks and to peddle its LNG to the EU by using sanctions to lockout Russian gas.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.