Oil politics in the Syrian civil war is a complex web of money deception and proxy war. What began as a non-violent grassroots rebellion against Bashar al Assad and the Syrian state has morphed into a complex proxy war involving countless factions and alliances competing for control of oil, and territory.
Various nation states and world powers who have their own financial interests in the region are supporting the armies on the ground.
This is because of Syria’s strategic importance as a potential gatekeeper between oil reserves from the Gulf and oil markets in Europe.
There are two different proposed pipelines that will have to run through Syria in order for this to happen. One sponsored by the Gulf states called the “Qatar-Turkey pipeline” and one sponsored by the Iranians and Syrians nicknamed the “Islamic pipeline”.
Since the 1990s, Europe has been increasingly dependent on Russian natural gas and oil. In 2014 it was estimated that 42% of the European Union’s natural gas imports originated from Russia.
This dependence has limited Europe’s ability to make a show of force against Russia. Last year the U.S introduced economic sanctions against Russia in retaliation for its annexation of Crimea.
When the US asked the EU to participate, there was a heated debate amongst the European nations about how exactly to impose sanctions.
Eastern Europeans felt especially threatened by Russia’s actions and wanted to enact the harshest penalties possible, however, Western Europeans were well aware that cutting off economic trade with Russia would destabilize their economies.
As a result, the European Union (EU) has desperately been looking for other sources of natural gas.
The “pipeline” which will carry natural gas from Azerbaijan into Europe will help to offset dependence on Russian gas, but will take years to reach full capacity and will not rid Europe of Russian dependence altogether.
European demand for natural gas is expected to rise dramatically in the next 30 years.
There is only one known source of gas that can solve Europe’s long-term energy needs and that’s source resides in the Middle East underneath the Persian Gulf.
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