U.S. Is Looting Syrian Oil Fields To Fund Mercenaries And Intelligence Operations

Yankees: Get really out of Syria ! ... and Stop the theft of oil that belongs to the Syrian people.

On October 26, the Russian Defense Ministry released an official statement on the situation with Syrian oil fields on the eastern bank of the Euphrates (source):

Russian Defence Ministry comments on the statement of the head of the Pentagon on the retention of the US military personnel group in Eastern Syria, allegedly “to prevent Islamic State access to oil fields”

A statement by the head of the Pentagon, M. Esper, about a certain need to retain a group of American troops in Eastern Syria “to protect the oil fields” from “Islamic State terrorists” should not be bewildering.

Absolutely all hydrocarbon accumulations and other mineral resources located on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic do not belong to the IS terrorists, and definitely not to the “American defenders from IS terrorists”, but exclusively to the Syrian Arab Republic.

Neither in international law, nor in American law itself — there has never been and there will never be a single legitimate task for the American troops — to protect and defend the hydrocarbon accumulations of Syria from Syria itself and its people.

Therefore, what Washington is doing now, the seizure and armed control of oil fields in Eastern Syria, is, put it simply, an international state banditry.

The real reason for this illegal US activity in Syria lies far from Washington’s proclaimed ideals of freedom and counter-terrorism slogans.

According to the presented images of the space intelligence of the Russian Defence Ministry, Syrian oil before and after the defeat of the IS terrorists on right bank of the Euphrates, under the reliable protection of the US military, was actively extracted and massively sent by fuel trucks for refining outside Syria.

At the same time, Washington officially announced sanctions for the supply of petroleum products to Syria, which apply not only to American companies, but also any others.

Under the protection of American military personnel and American PMC groups, fuel trucks from the oil fields of Eastern Syria are being smuggled to other states. In case of an attack on such a caravan, special operations forces and US military aviation are immediately involved to protect it.

By the way, oil production itself is carried out using equipment provided by leading Western corporations bypassing all American sanctions.

The oil exportation contract is implemented by the US-controlled company «Sedkab», created under the so-called Autonomous Administration of Eastern Syria. And the income from the smuggling of Syrian oil through the brokerage companies interacting with it goes to the numbered account of American PMCs and the US intelligence agencies.

Given that the cost of one barrel of Syrian smuggled oil is 38 US dollars, the monthly revenue of this “private business” of American public services exceeds 30 million US dollars.

For such a continuous financial flow, free from control and taxes of the American state, the Pentagon and Langley leadership will be ready to guard and defend oil wells in Syria from the mythical “hidden cells of the IS” forever».

U.S. Is Looting Syrian Oil Fields To Fund Mercenaries And Intelligence Operations

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U.S. Is Looting Syrian Oil Fields To Fund Mercenaries And Intelligence Operations

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U.S. Is Looting Syrian Oil Fields To Fund Mercenaries And Intelligence Operations

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U.S. Is Looting Syrian Oil Fields To Fund Mercenaries And Intelligence Operations

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U.S. Is Looting Syrian Oil Fields To Fund Mercenaries And Intelligence Operations

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LINK to the RUSSIAN PRESS BRIEFING OUTCOME

... while this is the Fake U.S. News headline:

Some U.S. Troops May Remain In Northeast Syria To Protect Oil

that got busted.

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Russian military releases satellite PHOTOS proving U.S. is stealing Syrian oil

By Paul Antonopoulos (*) - 26. October 2019

The Russian Ministry of Defense published satellite images on Saturday proving US smuggling of Syrian oil through tankers.

The photographs prove that Syrian oil was sent overseas under US military guard before and after the defeat of Daesh [ISIS], said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. General Igor Konashenkov.

“Space intelligence images showed that the oil was actively extracted and massively exported for processing outside Syria, under the reliable protection of US troops, before and after the defeat of the Daesh terrorists.”

Thus, the image of the Tall Daman oil collection point (east of Deir-ez-Zor province), captured on August 23, shows a traffic jam. “There were 90 vehicle units, including 23 tank trucks,” the photo comment says.

According to the Russian general, Americans produce oil in Syria with the help of equipment provided in violation of their own sanctions.

“Under the protection of the US military and employees of US private military companies, the tankers are smuggled from oil fields in eastern Syria to other countries. In the event of any attack on one of these caravans, special operations forces and US combat aviation are immediately involved to protect it,” he said.

Konashenkov added that now the barrel of smuggled Syrian oil is estimated at US $38, so that US government services monthly revenue exceeds US $30 million.

On Friday, Pentagon Chief Mark Esper said the United States would soon take steps to bolster positions around the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor to prevent terrorists from accessing oil fields.

According to Esper, Washington is considering how to deploy forces in the region to ensure the safety of the oil fields.

What Washington is currently doing – the capture and maintenance under its military control of the oil fields in eastern Syria is saying simply, international state banditry”, Konashenkov was quoted as saying.

He said the cause of this activity “is far from the ideals of freedom and the anti-terrorism slogans proclaimed by Washington.”

“Neither in international law nor in US law itself – there is no and there can be no legal purpose for US troops to guard and defend Syrian hydrocarbon deposits from Syria itself and its people,” said the Defense Ministry representative from Russia.

The Russian general also stated that all hydrocarbon deposits located in Syria “do not belong to Daesh terrorists and not to the ‘American defenders against Daesh terrorists’, but exclusively to the Syrian Arab Republic.”

(*) Author:

Paul Antonopoulos publishes the FRN blog

 

... and having been caught redhanded, the White House Mafia under Capo Trump as well as Wall Street tried some damage control:

Trump Calls for Control, Use of Syrian Oil Fields

By Michael R. Gordon, Timothy Puko - WSJ

WASHINGTON — President Trump said that he is planning to keep a small number of troops in northeast Syria to protect the oil fields there and suggested that an American company might help the Syrian Kurds develop the oil for export.

a factory next to a building© Manu Brabo for The Wall Street Journal

“I always said if you’re going in, keep the oil,” Mr. Trump said at a cabinet meeting Monday. “We’ll work something out with the Kurds so that they have some money, so that they have some cash flow. Maybe we’ll get one of our big oil companies to go in and do it properly.”

Former administration officials said Mr. Trump’s plan raises a host of legal, technical and diplomatic issues. And industry analysts say it is unlikely to draw any interest from the oil companies it would need to succeed.

Rex Tillerson, a onetime Exxon Co. CEO, had considered the idea when he was secretary of state only to conclude there were formidable legal barriers, said Brett McGurk, who served as the administration’s special envoy to the coalition fighting Islamic State until he resigned in December.

“Oil, like it or not, is owned by the Syrian state,” Mr. McGurk said Monday in an appearance at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank. “Maybe there are new lawyers, but it was just illegal for an American company to go and seize and exploit these assets."

Mr. McGurk said that the only way to export the oil legally, the State Department concluded at the time, was to have an arrangement in which the money was put in escrow for use by the Syrians after the civil war was over, an arrangement that would have involved Russia and the Assad government.

Mr. Tillerson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Fuad Hussein, Iraq’s finance minister, said that his government hadn’t yet been approached about Mr. Trump’s plan, which U.S. officials said would involve exporting Syrian oil, possibly produced with the help of an American company, through Iraq.

“This is new. It must be discussed in Baghdad, in Erbil,” Mr. Hussein said in an interview, referring to the capital of the semiautonomous Kurdish region in Iraq. “This needs a lot of discussion.”

The White House hasn’t provided details of Mr. Trump’s troop plan, which has supplanted his original order to remove all of the 1,000 troops from the northeast part of the country. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said earlier Monday that a small U.S. force, which military officials said could number up to 300, would remain in northeastern Syria after other U.S. troops are withdrawn under Mr. Trump’s orders.

Proponents say safeguarding the oil provides a way to maintain the U.S. relationship with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, keep up the fight against Islamic State and provide the Kurds with an alternative to selling oil to middlemen who transfer it to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Kurds and Mr. Trump’s critics have charged the U.S. withdrawal represents the abandonment of a longtime ally.

Mr. Trump long has advocated the control and sale of foreign resources, saying it could help American deployments pay for themselves.

Mr. Trump’s White House staff researched the possibilities in several conflict zones, doing the deepest such assessment of Afghanistan. Potentially large mineral reserves there have gone untapped because of conflict, poor infrastructure and ineffective governance. Those problems would limit opportunities for the U.S. to benefit from increased mining and drilling by discouraging U.S. firms from working there, the assessment concluded, echoing others.

Any U.S. government attempt to benefit from resources in previously examined areas likely would be hamstrung, because Washington doesn’t operate a state-owned energy or mining company, said a person familiar with these assessments. The government would have to rely on enticing a private U.S. business to enter a conflict zone, a task even more challenging when global oil prices are relatively low and security in the region is in doubt.

Mr. Trump previously has complained that the U.S. didn’t take oil from Iraqfollowing the 2003 American-led invasion.

Syria’s oil and gas fields in Kurdish-held areas have long figured in U.S. strategic plans to influence developments in the region. American officials have hoped that they and the Kurds could maintain control of that oil-rich territory, building leverage that could be used if political discussions about the future of Syria eventually are held. At a minimum, the U.S. has wanted to keep the oil fields out of the hands of Islamic State militants and the Russians.

But Mr. Trump’s talk about bringing in an American company to develop the oil fields represents a new concept, which follows conversations with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.).

Syria’s crude production had once been as high as 600,000 barrels a day, but fell to about 400,000 barrels around the outbreak of the war, according to data from an arm of the U.S. Energy Department. It quickly dropped again, by more than half, and Syria produced only about 40,000 barrels a day during the three years Islamic State controlled the region, from 2014 to 2017, according to those figures. Following the U.S-led campaign against the militant group, production fell by half again, before rebounding to about 30,000 barrels a day last year.

The only pipelines from the region go west, into territory controlled by Mr. Assad. And exporting the oil through Turkey would be a political nonstarter, given the Kurds’ tensions with Ankara, which considers its military forces to be terrorists.

U.S. officials said the oil could be exported through Iraq. Some of Syria’s lower-quality heavy oil, they say, might be blended with higher-quality Iraqi crude before being sold on the international market. Oil analysts dispute this as unlikely or unprofitable.

A key question is whether a U.S. company would be prepared to invest and develop the Kurdish-held fields given the legal, diplomatic and security complications, along with Mr. Trump’s wavering commitment to keep troops in Syria.

“The biggest fields are in the worst shape,” said Matthew Reed, an analyst at Washington-based consulting firm Foreign Reports. “We’re probably talking multibillion-dollar investments that won’t pay off for years, assuming ISIS doesn’t return or Assad doesn’t capture them.”

Trump administration officials assert that the several hundred members of the U.S. special operations forces the Pentagon is planning to send to northeast Syria would be sufficient to secure the oil-rich region if the Americans were working with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and were protected by American air power.

But the security plan, like the rest of Mr. Trump’s plan, remains in progress and faces unanswered questions.

“We have already given up almost the entire perimeter of northeast Syria,” Mr. McGurk said, referring to the withdrawal of the bulk of U.S. troops that is now under way. “And we are now going to hole up in a Fort Apache with a couple of hundred Americans? Let’s not exaggerate that that gives us any influence over the course of events in Syria. That influence has evaporated.”

Write to Michael R. Gordon at and Timothy Puko at

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“We Want To Keep The Oil”

 

By  - 25. October 2018

“Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand,
workin’ in the dark against your fellow man.
But as sure as God made black and white
what’s down in the dark will be brought to the light.”
~ Johnny Cash/traditional, ‘God’s Gonna Cut You Down’

The Grayzone has an excellent new article out titled “US troops are staying in Syria to ‘keep the oil’ – and have already killed hundreds over it” detailing the many ways the Trump administration has openly admitted that it is keeping US troops in Syria to control the nation’s oil fields so that the Syrian government can’t use it to fund reconstruction efforts.

“We’ve secured the oil, and therefore a small number of US troops will remain in the area where they have the oil,” Trump said in a recent press conference. “And we’re going to be protecting it. And we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future.”

“We want to keep the oil,” Trump said in a cabinet meeting a few days earlier. “Maybe we’ll have one of our big oil companies to go in and do it properly.”

“A purpose of those [US] forces, working with the SDF, is to deny access to those oil fields by ISIS and others who may benefit from revenues that could be earned,” said Defense Secretary Mark Esper. As Grayzone‘s Ben Norton accurately explains, “and others” necessarily means the Syrian government; preventing Assad from accessing Syrian oil is standing US military policy.

 

And that of course is the real reason US armed forces constantly remain in Syria despite all the empty babble about ending wars and bringing home the troops: it’s about control over a nation in a key geostrategic location which refuses to be absorbed into the blob of the US-centralized empire. Controlling its material wealth is an ideal way to do this.

Whenever I write about oil as a primary motive for US imperialism, I always get a bunch of right-wingers objecting that that makes no sense because the US has plenty of oil, and that it’s really about freedom and democracy or communism or Zionism or pedovore cults or Illuminati or whatever. What they miss, in their squirming attempts to avoid cognitive dissonance, is that it’s not about having and consuming oil, it’s about controlling oil. Control what governments can and cannot access crucial resources, and you can control which governments thrive and which ones don’t.

As Trump said, “We’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future.” In no other international power dynamic would this be considered a rational thing for anyone to say. The idea of another nation invading Texas and seizing control of its oil fields and then Xi Jinping or whomever saying “We’re controlling their oil and we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future” is unthinkable, but a US president can just come right out and say this about a weaker nation and it won’t even be front-page news.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Donald Trump is the most honest US president of all time. By that I don’t mean that he’s an honest person; he of course lies constantly. I simply mean that while his predecessors have always made sure to dress their imperialist military campaigns up as benevolent humanitarian intercessions, Trump just stands there out in the open like “Yeah we grabbed their oil and it’s ours now, blow me.” There was once a time when claiming a war was really about oil got you branded a conspiracy theorist. Now the US president just outright says it.

 

And this is really the only reason establishment power structures dislike Trump. They don’t feel directly threatened by him, they just dislike the way he’s always saying the quiet part out loud. Status quo power has a vested interest in keeping a smiling mask on things and preventing people from thinking too hard about what’s really going on in the world, and Trump keeps ripping off that mask by telling everyone what he’s doing in plain English.

Revolution (the real kind, the kind that actually changes things) is ultimately a fight against psychological compartmentalization on a mass scale. Compartmentalization is a tool people use to avoid the psychological discomfort (aka cognitive dissonance) that would otherwise be experienced by trying to hold on to two conflicting positions at one time, like, for example, seeing yourself as a good person and simultaneously giving your government your tacit permission to murder strangers on the other side of the world in your name.

Establishment power works to prevent people from looking directly at the ugly aspects of the empire, like the horrific nature of what war is and how much their country spreads it, or the fact that so many have so little while a few others have so very much, or the reason their government doesn’t seem to operate the way they were taught in school.  The empire has a vested interest in keeping these things in the dark, while the clear-eyed rebel is always trying to drag them kicking and screaming into the light. This is why truth-tellers and whistleblowers are always made public enemy number one by our rulers.

The true rebel fights to enlighten things, the empire fights to endarken them. This is the struggle from the largest power structures in our world, right down to our own inner lives as individual human beings. This is why I talk so much about the importance of inner work; it’s all one struggle, from the evil secrets hidden behind thick walls of government opacity all the way down to the parts of ourselves we try not to look at. Your efforts to become a more consciously integral and less compartmentalized human being are just as important as your efforts to expose the puppet strings to the audience.

 

As November 2020 draws nearer the screams to shut up and stop pointing at the truth are going to get louder and louder for political dissidents in America, even louder than the “shut up and fall in line” admonishments that Bernie-or-Busters received constantly in 2016. This will only be the voice of the empire yelling “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” It will only be those who are still plugged into the imperial narrative matrix transforming into a bunch of Agent Smiths and telling you to stop saying things which cause them cognitive dissonance.

But, for someone who has signed the truth-at-all-costs contract within themselves, this simply won’t be an option. Our desire to bring what’s dark into the light will overcome any pressure to keep things endarkened, whether it be in ourselves, in our relationships, in our society, in our government, or in our world. Followed through with in a deep and integral way, it changes the way we think, it changes the way we experience our own consciousness, it alters our behavior, it ruins our experience of news media and Hollywood blockbusters, it ends our marriages, it breaks up longstanding friendships and forges new ones, and it makes the deceptions of the powerful utterly intolerable. Truth come what may means truth come what may, and it’s a lifetime commitment.

We wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

__________________________

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EPILOGUE:

How the US Regime ‘Justifies’ the Theft of Syria’s Oil

 

By Eric Zuesse (*) - 30. October 2019

U.S. American youth demonstrating is not enough to stop the U.S. empire and its war-machine. © Photo: Flickr/fibonacciblue

On October 26th, the New York Times headlined “Keep the Oil’: Trump Revives Charged Slogan for New Syria Troop Mission” and opened by saying that “in recent days, Mr. Trump has settled on Syria’s oil reserves as a new rationale for appearing to reverse course and deploy hundreds of additional troops to the war-ravaged country.” They closed with a statement from Bruce Riedel, retired from the CIA: “‘Let’s say he does do it,’ Mr. Riedel said. ‘Let’s say we establish the precedent that we are in the Middle East to take the oil. The symbolism is really bad.’” The propaganda-value of a ‘news’-report is concentrated in its opening, and especially in what the ‘reporter’ (fulfilling the intentions of his editors) selected to be at the very end (such as Riedel’s statement). However, is what’s wrong with taking Syria’s oil actually the “symbolism,” as Riedel said, or is it instead the theft — the reality (and why did the NYT pretend that it’s the latter)? Nowhere did that NYT article use the word “theft,” or anything like it, but that is the actual issue here — not mere ‘symbolism’.

Trump had been so lambasted by the Democratic Party’s ‘news’-media (such as the NYT) and by all the rest of the neoconservative ‘news’-media (the Republican ones), for his trying to withdraw forces from Obama’s regime-change war against Syria, he’s now switched to trying to ‘justify’ continuation of America’s invasion-occupation of Syria by his promising to steal the oil there — but the ‘news’-media almost never use that term (“theft”), or anything like it, to describe what he is promising to do, because they themselves have been propagandizing the American people to oppose withdrawal from Syria, which would mean ending Obama’s invasion-occupation of Syria. Both the Republican and the Democratic Parties, and their ‘news’-media, have been full-bore “Assad must step-down.” None of America’s ‘news’-media had stated, either, that America’s invasions-occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, have all been disasters (though they all were), and that all of them have been and are defeats for America (though they all were that, on all of America’s leaders’ lies about ‘protecting human rights’, and about ‘bringing democracy’, and about what would have been producing improved lives — instead of producing continued bloodshed — for the residents in the countries that we had invaded and occupied). It’s all lies, nothing but that; and any ‘news’-media which operate this way will find themselves increasingly trapped in their lies, like the politicians themselves are. The only way ‘out’, for any of them (including for Trump, and for both the Republican and the Democratic press) is yet more lies — and all of these lies are cover-ups, by the press and by the politicians. (This is why they’re torturing Julian Assange to death: he has seriously challenged that ongoing deceit, in which they all participate.) Unless the public stop the media from doing it — by cancelling their subscriptions, and otherwise demonetizing the ones who have been doing it — the lies, and deceits, and invasions, and destructive US national expenditures of tens of trillions of dollars (being paid to corporations such as Lockheed Martin, and not only to our soldiers) will continue. This enormous counterproductive expenditure will drain America’s abilities to fund health care, education, etc. It is bringing the US economy down, and not merely bringing America to an ethically lower and lower point. The more that America’s leaders try to continue expanding the American empire, the more that they will both embarrass, and weaken, America. This is real. It is no propaganda, at all. It’s “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

On October 24th, USA Today headlined “Pentagon planning to send tanks, armored vehicles to Syrian oil fields”, and reported that “The Pentagon is preparing to send tanks and armored vehicles to Syrian oil fields, according to a US official – a stunning reversal of President Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from the war-torn country after he declared victory over ISIS.” Those oil fields don’t belong to the US, but to Syria’s Government, and their operation is vital to funding Syria’s reconstruction, which the US regime is determined to prevent; but USA Today’s ‘news’-report says nothing about any of that. The US Government is trying to steal Syria’s oil fields — but this USA Today article says nothing about that, either. American troops are invaders of Syria, unlike Russian troops, who are defenders of Syria, and who had been invited into Syria by Syria’s Government (the only government Syria has) in order to help defend Syria’s sovereignty, over Syria’s own land, including its oil wells, against the US-and-allied invasion. All of that vital context is missing from this deceptive report.

That report said “Now, Russian troops, which are in Syria to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and Turkish forces, are operating in the region previously patrolled by US and Kurdish forces.” It’s saying that, whereas the region had been “patrolled” — instead of invaded and now occupied — by US and Kurdish forces, “Russian troops … and Turkish forces … are in Syria to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad,” though his ‘regime’ is actually the only legitimate Government of Syria. But the US regime claims the right to force Assad to be overthrown.

This report stated that “The deployment of armor is aimed at Russia and Syria, not ISIS, said Nicholas Heras, an expert on Syria with the Center for a New American Security. … ‘Pure and simple,’ he said, ‘the Pentagon is making contingencies for a big fight with Russia for Syria’s oil.’” But Russia isn’t trying to seize Syria’s oil — the US regime is doing that, actually. Russian forces are in Syria only in order to assist Syria to defend its oil, and its land. If the US regime will go into World War III so as to steal Syria’s oil, then the likelihood of Russia’s letting this theft happen is slight: that would be Russia’s capitulation without a fight, and Russia has never given any indication it would do such a thing. (And Russian media DO refer to this as being “theft”; they’re not trying to hide the fact. Russia already is fighting the US regime in Syria. And on October 26th, Russia’s Sputnik News headlined “The Russian military described the US scheme as nothing less than ‘international state banditism’,” and reported that, “According to Russian intelligence, the illegal US-supervised extraction of Syrian oil was being carried out by ‘leading American corporations’ and private military contractors, with US special forces and air power used for protection. Konashenkov said the estimated monthly revenue of this ‘private enterprise’ was over $30 million.”) This is the territory of Syria, which is a Russian ally. The thief here is clearly the US regime, not Syria, and not Russia. It is no one else than the US regime that is aiming to steal Syria’s oil by sending in tanks. Nowhere does the USA Today article even so much as hint that this is the case.

An October 21st Wall Street Journal article reported the US Government’s theft of Syria’s oil, but it was instead headlined with the misleading, more innocuous, and less attention-grabbing “Trump Calls for Defense, Use of Syrian Oil Fields”nothing about any “theft” — and it opened with the seemingly US-or-Syria defense-related statement (as if US troops were in Syria as defenders, instead of as attackers and thieves) that “President Trump said he is planning to keep a small number of troops in northeast Syria to protect the oil fields there and suggested that an American company might help the Syrian Kurds develop the oil for export.”

However, since when does a thief break into your residence in order to “protect” anything? And since when does such a thief have a right to sell your property, or to determine what people (such as “the Syrian Kurds”) will sell it?

Was that article news, or was it instead propaganda? It certainly misrepresents. What it reports, is reported as if this thieving operation were only being contemplated, and would be new, but the thieving is actually nothing new — it’s an already-existing, and longstanding, coordinated and international operation, by the US regime and its allies, as will here be documented.

America’s mainstream media now (such as in USA Today, WSJ, and NYT) are normalizing this theft. This normalization is being done by their propaganda, which now is for a Republican Government, but formerly was for a Democratic Government. Previously, Democrats had done the same hiding of the regime’s evil, when their Democratic President Barack Obama was the person who was perpetrating it.

This theft — and the normalization of it — are actually bipartisan, and longstanding. When the ‘news’ presents false historical context, it lies; it is propaganda, and that’s what the American nation’s mainstream ‘news’-media now are. They are deceptive garbage, regime-propaganda.

On October 20th, Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham, and Republican Maria Bartiromo of Fox News “Sunday Morning Futures,” discussed the Republican Trump’s plan to steal Syria’s oil, and they both agreed that it might turn out to be an excellent policy. This show was headlined “Sen. Lindsey Graham: I am increasingly optimistic we can have historic solutions in Syria.” It was a remarkably bold defense of the US Government’s — and of its allies’ — thefts from Syria. Already, the US Government had said that it won’t pay even a cent in order to provide restitution for the estimated $388 billion in damages to Syria from the invasion of Syria by the US and by its allies such as Al Qaeda and the Sauds, but this show presented an endorsement by those two Republicans, backing the Republican US President’s plan to steal Syria’s oil, which goes beyond merely supporting zero restitution to the invaded country. No mention was being made, by them, on this ‘news’-medium, that (as will be documented here) those thefts by the US Government, and by its allies, have, in fact, been going on ever since the invasions of Syria by them and their proxies (or “agents” — such as Al Qaeda) had started in 2012. No mention was made by them that this was the policy of Democratic President Barack Obama and that it’s merely being continued further by Trump. To the exact contrary: Trump was being praised by these propagandists for starting this program, and, so, their praise was not just evil; it was actually entirely false.

Right before the interview, Bartiromo had been pretending to be a critical non-partisan journalist instead of the propagandist that she is, and so she stated that “my biggest issue here is the strength of Iran [as if Iran had ever invaded or even threatened to invade the United States, and as if Trump’s anti-Iran policies aren’t sufficiently stringent, or maybe even are vastly too stringent, or maybe even are altogether unjustified]. And I feel like the administration had the Iranians on their heels and ruining the economy through sanctions, through this pressure campaign. And now we give up and leave Syria.” The Senator disagreed with her make-pretend criticism of the Republican President, and he said that, instead,

The big thing for me is the oil fields. President Trump is thinking outside the box. I was so impressed with his thinking about the oil. Not only are we going to deny the oil fields falling into Iranian hands. I believe we’re on the verge of a joint venture between us and the Syrian Democratic Forces, who helped destroy ISIS and keep them destroyed, to modernize the oil fields and make sure they get the revenue, not the Iranians, not Assad. … That’s why what President Trump is proposing in Syria, a joint venture dealing with the southern oil fields in Syria, between our allies, the Kurds and the Arabs who helped us destroy ISIS, is a historic change that could pay dividends for the region. And, quite frankly, we could generate revenue to pay for our commitment in Syria. … I am increasingly optimistic that we can have some historic solutions in Syria that have eluded us for years, if we play our cards right.

Bartiromo replied “Wow. … You actually do see a way forward after you have spoken with the president on his plan to secure those oil fields.”

This theft is pushed by all of the US mainstream media, and Trump knows that he will need at least some degree of support from them if he is to be able to win re-election. This is the reason why he keeps contradicting himself — trying to appeal to the “No More War” crowd, while still drawing donations from the “military-industrial complex” or owners of America’s ‘defense’ contractors. (There’s a lot of crossover between the controlling owners of those firms and the controlling owners of the ‘news’-media — and of the ‘non-profit’ foundations.) America’s major ‘news’ media have always buried the truth about this long-ongoing theft.

And not only was the theft of Syria’s oil the policy of Democratic US President Barack Obama, but it was participated in by his coalition, which included both EU heads-of-state and Arab heads-of-state, and this policy began in 2011. Here’s how it, in fact, developed:

On 28 November 2012, Syria News headlined “Emir of Qatar & Prime Minister of Turkey Steal Syrian Oil Machinery in Broad Daylight”and accompanied it by video of the alleged event. (At that time, Qatar and Turkey were allies of the US arming the ‘rebels’ in Syria to overthrow Syria’s Government; so, they were part of America’s broader operation, and were also profiting from it.) But that video is no longer active. A subsequent description of that video was posted under the headline “Emir of Qatar & Prime Minister of Turkey Steal Syrian Oil Excavators – No Translation”. Another posting of the video online has lasted from 6 October 2013 to the present time, under the headline “Emir of Qatar & Prime Minister of Turkey Steal Syrian Oil Excavators – BiffiSyrien”, where it still can be viewed.

By no later than 12 December 2012, US President Barack Obama made the decision to hire Al Qaeda in Syria (called “Al Nusra”) to train and lead almost all of America’s proxy-forces on the ground in Syria to overthrow Syria’s Government. (Kurds were assigned to be America’s lead proxy-forces in far northeastern Syria.) (Obama was so determined to protect Al Qaeda in Syria as to sabotage on 17 September 2016 his own Secretary of State, John Kerry’s, just-signed Syrian ceasefire agreement with Russia, because that agreement allowed not only ISIS, but also Al Qaeda forces, to continue to be bombed in Syria by Russia. Obama was protecting Al Qaeda in Syria.)

On 22 April 2013, the AP headlined “EU lifts Syria oil embargo to bolster rebels” and reported that

The European Union on Monday lifted its oil embargo on Syria to provide more economic support to the forces fighting to oust President Bashar Assad’s regime. The decision will allow for crude exports from rebel-held territory. … The oil exports could open an important revenue stream for Syria’s opposition. …

While Syria was never one of the world’s major oil exporters, the sector was a pillar of Syria’s economy until the uprising, with the country producing about 380,000 barrels a day and exports — almost exclusively to Europe — bringing in more than $3 billion in 2010. Oil revenues provided around a quarter of the funds for the national budget. Being able to take advantage of the country’s oil resources will help the Syrian uprising “big time,” said Osama Kadi, a senior member of the Syrian opposition.

On 27 April 2013, the New York Times headlined “Islamist Rebels Create Dilemma on Syria Policy” and reported that

Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of. … The religious agenda of the combatants sets them apart from many civilian activists, protesters and aid workers who had hoped the uprising would create a civil, democratic Syria. … Of most concern to the United States is the Nusra Front, whose leader recently confirmed that the group cooperated with Al Qaeda in Iraq and pledged fealty to Al Qaeda’s top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s longtime deputy. Nusra has claimed responsibility for a number of suicide bombings and is the group of choice for the foreign jihadis pouring into Syria.

Another prominent group, Ahrar al-Sham, shares much of Nusra’s extremist ideology but is made up mostly of Syrians…

In the oil-rich provinces of Deir al-Zour and Hasaka, Nusra fighters have seized government oil fields, putting some under the control of tribal militias and running others themselves.

“They are the strongest military force in the area,” said the commander of a rebel brigade in Hasaka reached via Skype. “We can’t deny it.”…

“We all want an Islamic state and we want Shariah to be applied,” said Maawiya Hassan Agha, a rebel activist reached by Skype in the northern village of Sarmeen. He said a country’s laws should flow from its people’s beliefs and compared Syrians calling for Islamic law with the French banning Muslim women from wearing face veils.

On 1 May 2013, TIME bannered “Syria’s Opposition Hopes to Win the War by Selling Oil” and reported that

Without an embargo, European companies can now legally begin importing barrels of oil directly from rebel groups, which have seized several oil fields in recent months, mostly around the eastern area of Deir Ezzor. That would provide the opposition with its first reliable source of income since the revolt erupted in Feb. 2011, and in theory hasten the downfall of Bashar Assad’s regime, by giving rebels the means to run skeletal local governments and consolidate their control.

On 15 June 2013, Global Research headlined “Former French Foreign Minister: The War against Syria was Planned Two years before ‘The Arab Spring’” and Gearóid Ó Colmáin reported that

In an interview with the French TV station LCP, former French minister for Foreign Affairs Roland Dumas said:

“I’m going to tell you something. I was in England two years before the violence in Syria [in other words, in 2009] on other business. I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria.

This was in Britain not in America. Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer minister for foreign affairs, if I would like to participate.

Naturally, I refused, I said I’m French, that doesn’t interest me.

Dumas attributed it to Israel, not to the US, nor to the Sauds (who actually had always been the CIA’s choice to appoint the leaders of Syria), and he didn’t even so much as mention either of those, except to say that “this will enable it [Israel] to replace the United States as a global hegemon” (which is a crackpot idea). Though his interpretation was ridiculous, his allegation that in 2009 “top British officials … confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria” is a factual matter, which is either true or false. (Back in 2009, there is actual evidence that American’s President Barack Obama was aiming to overthrow Assad. Furthermore, Obama’s team started by no later than 23 June 2011 to plan both the coup in Ukraine which succeeded and the coup in Syria, which failed. And as the great investigative journalist Gareth Porter reported on 5 January 2017, “In August 2011, national security officials began urging Obama to call on Assad to step down,” but at that time “He wasn’t willing to go along with anything except small arms,” until CIA Director David Petraeus — who soon thereafter became a member of the Bilderberg group — persuaded him to go all-out in arming the ‘rebels’. Furthermore, “when Obama was making crucial Syria policy decisions in September 2011,” his advisors assumed that both Russia and Iran would stay out of the matter and just just let the US and the Sauds take-over Syria. Obama respected his advisors. And, then, Porter headlined on 22 June 2017, “How America Armed Terrorists in Syria”. So: this theft-operation was extensively armed by the US regime, and funded by the Sauds.)

In any case, the EU was certainly helping ISIS and other such groups to steal Syria’s oil, so as to help fund their overthrow-Assad operation. So, the participation also of UK was likely, even if not, at that time, proven.

On 14 October 2015, the Financial Times headlined ”Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists” and reported that “Selling crude is Isis’ biggest single source of revenue. … While al-Qaeda, the global terrorist network, depended on donations from wealthy foreign sponsors, Isis has derived its financial strength from its status as monopoly producer of an essential commodity consumed in vast quantities throughout the area it controls.” (In other words, when TIME, on 1 May 2013, bannered “Syria’s Opposition Hopes to Win the War by Selling Oil” and said “That would provide the opposition with its first reliable source of income since the revolt erupted in Feb. 2011,” the “opposition” being referred to there was actually ISIS, not Al Qaeda. The EU was buying its black-market oil from ISIS.)

On 1 December 2015, another great investigative journalist, Nafeez Ahmed, bannered “Western firms primed to cash in on Syria’s oil and gas ‘frontier’” and he reported:

US, British, French, Israeli and other energy interests could be prime beneficiaries of military operations in Iraq and Syria designed to rollback the power of the ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) and, potentially, the Bashar al-Assad regime.

A study for a global oil services company backed by the French government and linked to Britain’s Tory-led administration, published during the height of the Arab Spring, hailed the significant “hydrocarbon potential” of Syria’s offshore resources.

The 2011 study was printed in GeoArabia, a petroleum industry journal published by a Bahrain-based consultancy, GulfPetroLink, which is sponsored by some of the world’s biggest oil companies, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Total, and BP. GeoArabia’s content has no open subscription system and is exclusively distributed to transnational energy corporations, corporate sponsors and related organisations, as well as some universities.

On 28 August 2018, Abdel Bari Atwan, one of the Middle East’s most respected journalists, headlined “Carrots and Sticks” and reported that

Damascus has been inundated with secret offers in recent weeks as part of a carrot-and-stick policy, two of which are particularly significant.

The first, reported on Tuesday by the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese daily al-Akhbar and the semi-official Iranian Fars news agency, was conveyed by a senior US military officer accompanied by representatives of various intelligence agencies. They flew to Damascus on a private UAE jet, and were met by the head of the National Security Bureau Gen. Ali Mamlouk, intelligence chief Gen. Deeb Zaitoun, and deputy army chief-of-staff Gen. Muwaffaq Masoud. Their meeting lasted four hours. The Americans reportedly offered to withdraw all US forces from Syria in exchange for Damascus complying with three demands: to pull Iranian forces out of areas of southern Syria adjoining Israel; to guarantee US oil companies a share of Syria’s oil east of the Euphrates; and to hand over all information about terrorist groups and their members in Syria.

The second offer was revealed by Lebanese Hezbollah MP Nawwaf al-Mousawi in a discussion programme on the Lebanese TV channel al-Mayadeen, at which I was also a panellist. He said that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin-Salman sent an envoy to Asad offering to support him remaining president for life and provide generous Saudi support for Syria’s reconstruction in exchange for him severing ties with Iran and Hezbollah.

Both offers were categorically turned down by the Syrian leadership.

The American delegation was told that its troops in Syria were occupying forces which would be treated as such, that Syria could not abandon its strategic allies, and that issues such as US participation in the oil industry and exchanging intelligence could be discussed once political relations were re-established.

On 2 September 2018, the German intelligence analyst who blogs anonymously as “Moon of Alabama” headlined “Syria Sitrep – US To Stay To ‘Create Quagmires’” and he reported:

The claim that the US is there to fight ISIS is a lie. ISIS is still active in two places in Syria. Both are under US control. …

The US is not fighting ISIS in Syria. It is building semi-permanent bases, trains a large proxy force, and controls Syria’s oilfields. Its aim is still regime change, the same aim it had when it launched the war on Syria seven and a half years ago. To achieve that it will continue to sow as much chaos as possible.

As CIA and Pentagon mouthpiece David Ignatius wrote this week:

“[T]he administration has stopped the dithering and indecision of the past 18 months and signaled that the United States has enduring interests in Syria, beyond killing Islamic State terrorists — and that it isn’t planning to withdraw its Special Operations forces from northeastern Syria anytime soon.

‘Right now, our job is to help create quagmires [for Russia and the Syrian regime] until we get what we want,’ says one administration official, explaining the effort to resist an Idlib onslaught. This approach involves reassuring the three key US allies on Syria’s border — Israel, Turkey and Jordan — of continued American involvement.”

But what seems ultimately to endure is: Steal the oil.

On 26 February 2019 the Syrian National News Agency reported that Syria’s Government accused the US Government of having stolen from ISIS so much gold that ISIS had received as payment for oil that ISIS had stolen from Syria, so that the US Federal Reserve was enriched by at least 40 tons of gold. The accusation is that this black-marketed oil produced that gold for the US Government, and purchased “safe passage for the terrorists.”

So: Trump, and Fox News, and US Senators, etc., are planning to continue the operation that Democratic US President Barack Obama, and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the US CIA, and Britain’s MI6, and the rest of the US regime and its allies, were trying to do even before the “Arab Spring” began. As I have previously reported, Obama, even when he came into office in 2009, was aiming to take control of Syria, for it to become ruled by agents of the Saud family, and he started planning the ‘revolution’ in Syria by no later than 23 June 2011.

So: the faker Donald Trump is really just old hat, nothing at all new. He’s just trying to do what Obama was trying to do, but using different tactics to do it.

And, so, what is the ‘justification’ for this theft? It is America’s alliances:

BARTIROMO: Why are we sending troops to Saudi Arabia then?

GRAHAM: Well, because Saudi Arabia is an ally and Iran is an enemy.

And Iran is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism on the planet. …

The official position of the US Government is that Iran is the top state sponsor of terrorism and that the Sauds (whom in diplomatic cables and other internal communications the US regime acknowledge to be the biggest financial backer of Al Qaeda) isn’t even a state sponsor of terrorism, at all, but is instead a US ‘ally’.

So: that’s how they ‘justify’ it. They ‘justify’ it by the rest of the gang — the very same gang that the US regime itself leads. Their ‘justification’, of themselves, is empty. It is only propaganda, for fools to believe. Nothing more, than that. On Friday, October 26th, the Washington Post headlined “Trump decided to leave troops in Syria after conversations about oil, officials say”, and — like all of the regime’s stenographic reporting of the regime’s ‘news’ — reported the regime’s more official ‘explanation’, which was: “Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper confirmed on Friday that troops would remain in eastern Syria to prevent the oil fields from being retaken by the Islamic State.” This is just more of the same: it’s just citing ‘ISIS’ as being the ‘enemy’, instead of citing “Syria” as being that. They are asserting that they can steal Syria’s oil so as to prevent ISIS from stealing it. First, ISIS and other US allies stole it; and, then, the US seized ISIS’s gold from those sales; and, now, the US will be stealing Syria’s oil directly.

Similarly, in 2002 and 2003, the US regime, and its stenographic press, kept shifting their ‘explanation’ as to why Iraq had to be immediately invaded. Americans believed it then, and they believe it now. The American public never learn. This is now 17 years later. There has been no change, except in whom the occupant of the White House is. But fortunately, this time, there is Russia that perhaps can say no to this plan. Only time will tell if it will. And, if it does, then will Trump pull his nuclear trigger — an invasion of Russia, WW III, an aggression against the other superpower? I doubt it, but it could happen. To overestimate the greed and the stupidity of the international Deep State is hard to do. These billionaires didn’t get to be billionaires by being intelligent or being good — cunning and ruthless, yes, but that’s very different. After all, the announced highest aspiration of Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, is to send a trillion people out into space, “getting humanity established in the solar system”. Even conquering the world wouldn’t be enough to satisfy some of these individuals.

On 20 August 2018, Russia’s RT News headlined “‘Secret directive’ bans UN agencies from helping rebuild Syria until ‘political transition’ – Lavrov” and reported that Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said that the Executive branch of the UN, the UN Secretariat, had issued in October 2017 a “secret directive” (violating two resolutions of the UN General Assembly — the UN’s Legislature), and that this secret directive ordered UN agencies to do nothing to help rebuild Syria unless the US first had approved of a new person to replace Syria’s existing President, and unless that person had already become installed to lead Syria.

According to the anti-Russian Haaretz newspaper in anti-Russian Israel, on 31 August 2018,

One country that is likely going to stay out of the infighting over the reconstruction process is the United States. The Trump administration has no clear policy on the “day after” in Syria, except for one principle: No American money will be spent on it.

The American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, made that point clear at a speech she gave on Tuesday in Washington, explaining that Russia and the Assad regime “own” Syria now. “You broke it, you own it,” Haley said at a summit organized by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies [an organization that zionist Jews had set up in the US]. …

Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, expressed a similar view, writing in the British newspaper The Independent: “Long before any talk of providing reconstruction assistance for Syria, which in any event would require lifting separate targeted sanctions, European governments should call out Russia’s complicity in Syria’s war crimes and vigorously press the Kremlin to end these atrocities and stop underwriting Syria’s repression.”

It was the deployment of the Russian air force three years ago that tilted the scales of the war in favor of Assad, who at that time controlled only a quarter of the country’s territory. Even today, Russia maintains its military presence in Syria to ensure the regime’s upper hand.

This is similar to the policy of imperial Rome toward Carthage — a resisting city-state — in 146 BC, when the Emperor ordered the resisting city-state destroyed at the end of the final, the Third, Punic War, except that, in the present instance, the imperial ruler is (on and off, depending on his whim of the day) quitting his efforts to conquer that land, and is instead (but this being consistent) commanding his agencies never to assist to restore Syria, unless and until it finally will surrender to the empire. In that sense, Syria may be considered to be today’s Carthage. (Another difference is that Syria, unlike Carthage at that time, is no expansionist — or “imperialist” — power.) So: Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham, Maria Bartiromo, Barack Obama, the US Congress, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations, and the other agents and agencies of the US empire, are in an imperial tradition that goes back thousands of years, if not longer.

However, though Syria is an ally of Iran, and of Russia; and so the US regime want regime-change there, Donald Trump might have reached the limit of his regime-change aspirations when on 10 September 2019 he finally fired John Bolton, who (along with his predecessors) had failed against Iran, failed against Venezuela, failed against Russia, and failed against China. Trump’s most intensive regime-change effort has been against Iran (though Fox’s Maria Bartiromo thinks it’s not enough). On 5 July 2018, the excellent investigative journalist Sibel Edmonds headlined at her Newsbud site her 33-minute video “Breaking: Insiders Reveal Secret Deal to Topple Iran Government!” revealing (starting at 19:00) that ever since Trump entered office in 2017, his Administration was planning to execute an operation not only to terminate the Iran deal and re-institute sanctions but to enforce sactions so stringently against any country that would continue trading with Iran, so as to strangle Iran’s economy and thus impose such misery upon the Iranian population so that they would welcome a military coup in order to end their (US-imposed) misery. This operation had a Plan A and a Plan B. In Plan A, Iran’s generals who would participate in the coup would institute an ‘anti-American’ ‘independent’ government which would buy US-made weapons from EU countries and thus not be viewed by Iranians as a US-stooge regime (though becoming a US stooge regime); the sanctions would be lifted, and Iran’s economy would be restored. In Plan B, 3-3.5M Iranians would be killed by the bombing, and all of Iran’s generals would be among them. Plan A would be Iran’s generals ‘standing up for the Iranian people’, a ‘nationalistic’ (instead of capitulationist) coup, to remove the ‘dictatorship’. Plan B would be a much bigger slaughter of Iranians. Edmonds said (27:30) the coup “would take place, I would say, in less than six months.” (29:00) “There is a large, powerful military faction that have said Yes [to Plan A]. … How sure of this am I? 100%.” But she was wrong in this prediction; she hadn’t considered the bigger picture. What’s that? Trump was getting too close to his own re-election campaign. And not enough Iranian generals could be corrupted to become traitors; the coup didn’t occur. Bolton, etc., had been too rosy in their predictions that the threats would be enough and that the patriotism of enough of Iran’s generals could just be bought off. (Perhaps the corrupt Americans had expected Iranians to be as corrupt as they themselves were.) Plan B was thus supposed to become imposed — an outright US invasion of Iran. But what would this invasion have done to Trump’s re-election chances? The Deep State had actually suckered him. That’s why Bolton (part of the Deep State) was fired. And, so, now, Congress and the US media are finally out for Trump’s scalp, because he wouldn’t follow through with the Deep State’s plan. Maybe he’ll do it if he becomes re-elected, but they can’t trust him; they want President Mike Pence. That’s become their new Plan B: impeachment in the House, and forced removal in the Senate. His intensified effort, now, to steal Syria’s oil, isn’t enough to stop that.

The reason why Julian Assange, ever since 12 June 2012, has been under various forms of imprisonment — and now torture — without there having been any conviction for anything, and not even any trial being held in his case, is that the US and its allied regimes need to keep their secrets, and therefore need to eliminate him. To publishers, and to journalists, throughout the US-and-allied world, his case is the ultimate warning of what each one of them could face. This is how the real law actually operates, throughout the empire. Assange is simply the personification of it, for everyone. However, as might logically follow from this situation, the only country in the world where Assange — who is globally viewed more favorably than unfavorably — is widely despised, is the United States, where the handwriting against him is “on the wall,” almost everywhere. America’s ‘news’-media have been uniquely devoted to doing their job. But, of course, authentic news-media perform a different job. And Assange’s case is the most effective possible warning to whatever authentic news-media might still exist within the US empire. To call this empire a ‘democracy’ anywhere, insults that noble term.

(*) Author:

Eric Zuesse - American writer and investigative historian

 

Trump OKs wider Syria oil mission, raising legal questions

U.S. military convoy drives the he town of Qamishli, north Syria, by a poster showing Syrain President Bashar Aassad Saturday, Oct. 26. 2019. (Baderkhan Ahmad/AP)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has approved an expanded military mission to secure an expanse of oil fields across eastern Syria, raising a number of difficult legal questions about whether U.S. troops can launch strikes against Syrian, Russian or other forces if they threaten the oil, U.S. officials said.

The decision, coming after a meeting Friday between Trump and his defense leaders, locks hundreds of U.S. troops into a more complicated presence in Syria, despite the president’s vow to get America out of the war. Under the new plan, troops would protect a large swath of land controlled by Syrian Kurdish fighters that stretches nearly 90 miles (150 kilometers) from Deir el-Zour to al-Hassakeh, but its exact size is still being determined.

Officials said many details still have to be worked out. But, Trump’s decision hands commanders a victory in their push to remain in the country to prevent any resurgence of the Islamic State group, counter Iran and partner with the Kurds, who battled IS alongside the U.S. for several years. But it also forces lawyers in the Pentagon to craft orders for the troops that could see them firing on Syrian government or Russian fighters trying to take back oil facilities that sit within the sovereign nation of Syria.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations.

Trump’s order also slams the door on any suggestion that the bulk of the more than 1,200 U.S. troops that have been in Syria will be coming home any time soon, as he has repeatedly promised.

Army Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a spokesman for the U.S.-led mission to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, said the mechanized forces moving in to Deir ez-Zor province, Syria, hailed from the 30th Armored Brigade Combat team, a National Guard unit from South Carolina.

Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, called the mission misguided.

“Risking the lives of our troops to guard oil rigs in eastern Syria is not only reckless, it’s not legally authorized,” Kaine told The Associated Press. “President Trump betrayed our Kurdish allies that have fought alongside American soldiers in the fight to secure a future without ISIS — and instead moved our troops to protect oil rigs.”

The Pentagon will not say how many forces will remain in Syria for the new mission. Other officials, also speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing deliberations, suggest the total number could be at least 800 troops, including the roughly 200 who are at the al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria.

According to officials, lawyers are trying to hammer out details of the military order, which would make clear how far troops will be able to go to keep the oil in the Kurds’ control.

The legal authority for U.S. troops going into Syria to fight Islamic State militants was based on the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force that said U.S. troops can use all necessary force against those involved in the Sept. 11 attacks on America and to prevent any future acts of international terrorism. So, legal experts say the U.S. may have grounds to use the AUMF to prevent the oil from falling into IS hands.

But protecting the oil from Syria government forces or other entities may be harder to defend.

“The U.S. is not at war with either Syria or Turkey, making the use of the AUMF a stretch,” said Stephen Vladeck, a national security law professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

He added that while the U.S. Constitution bestows significant war powers on the president, those are generally meant to be about self-defense and for the collective defense of the country. Arguing that securing the oil is necessary for national security “just strikes me as a bridge too far,” he said.

Members of Congress, including Kaine, have also raised objections to the Trump administration using the AUMF as a basis for war against a sovereign government. That type of action, he and others have argued, required approval by Congress.

U.S. officials said the order approved by Trump does not include any mandate for the U.S. to take Syria’s oil. Trump has said multiple times that the U.S. is “keeping the oil.” But the White House and the Pentagon have so far been unable to explain what he means by that. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday he “interprets” Trump’s remarks to mean the military should deny IS access to the oil fields.

There were already a couple hundred U.S. troops around Deir el-Zour, and additional forces with armored vehicles, including Bradley infantry carriers, have begun moving in. Officials have said the total force there could grow to about 500.

Trump, Esper and other defense leaders have said it’s important to protect the oil so that Islamic State militants can’t regain control of the area and use the revenues to finance their operations.

Currently, the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces have controlled the oil, supported by a small contingent of U.S. troops. A quiet arrangement has existed between the Kurds and the Syrian government, whereby Damascus buys the surplus through middlemen in a smuggling operation that has continued despite political differences. The Kurdish-led administration sells crude oil to private refiners, who use primitive homemade refineries to process fuel and diesel and sell it back to the administration.

It’s unclear how long that agreement may continue. And if some dispute arises, U.S. troops must have clear guidance on how to respond.

U.S. forces can use military force to protect themselves. But the oil fields are expansive, and troops can’t be everywhere. If, for example, Syrian government troops try to retake a portion of an oil facility and U.S. troops are not nearby, it’s unclear now how much force they could use if they aren’t acting in self-defense.

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Robert Burns contributed to this report.

Bradleys and Army infantry roll into Syria to help secure oil wells

Bradleys and Army infantry roll into Syria to help secure oil wells

 

 

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