According to the official reports, before the war in Syria broke out, the oil production to the east of Euphrates amounted to about 380,000 barrels per day ensuring the country’s financial independence and creating the backbone for its economic growth. Nowadays these oil-producing areas are under military occupation of foreign armed forces. Special units from the US, France and other countries of the so-called anti-ISIS coalition have firmly settled down on the territory stretching from Al-Malikiyah in the north to the Abu Kamal in the south. The Americans are supplying weapons, military equipment transportation vehicles to their allies and part of these deliveries center around the oil fields.
Syrian oil fields look like military facility guarded by armed men in army greens. These are not only fighters from divisions of the international coalition, but also mercenaries from private US military companies. They are guarding primarily those who steal oil from Syria. Everyone who can is engaged in this - from representatives of leading Western powers to local bandits from the armed opposition groups acting under the US’ wing.
It has been estimated, that over eight years of the war, Syria’s oil sector lost $14.5 bln. According to the Al Watan newspaper, in the first quarter of this year alone, losses totaled $332 mln. The data provided by Russia’s Defense Ministry also shows the scale of that criminal business. According to the statement by the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, under the pretext of fighting the Islamic State (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia), Washington deployed more than 3,500 mercenaries in Eastern Syria, who are not only participating in military operations against the government forces, but also stealing oil from the oil fields of Conoko, al-Omar and al-Tanak.
The criminal trade in marketable goods from Syria has spread on the territory between Northern Iraq and Turkey. It is impossible to calculate the exact volumes of stolen oil. Many deposits were rendered fully or partially unusable – either because of hostilities or barbaric methods of crude extraction.
According to international experts, peaceful oil specialists are also working in the “occupied” Syrian fields today. Their task is to restore the destroyed economy. This looks similar to the way the US acted in Iraq in 2003. Then American oil company Halliburton took control over the local fields while being protected by armed units of the government services and security company Blackwater. While pumping oil from Iraqi wells, the Americans were also hastily repairing those wells that were out of commission - to increase the volume of stolen oil. How does this robbery business comply with the international law? That looks like a naive question - Who thinks about the law with such revenues?
However, these were Europeans who attacked the oil sector in Syria. This happened in 2011, when the EU imposed sanctions against the oil industry in Syria and banned the import of Syrian oil into its territory. What is interesting: in 2012, the so-called “Syrian Free Army” expelled all oil industry specialists from the territories it occupied, and already in April 2013 the EU lifted its sanctions imposed on fields controlled by that “army.” It is not difficult to trace a link between these two facts. The armed opposition had to support itself by selling the oil stolen from the state in order not to bother foreign patrons anymore, asking them for financial assistance.
By 2014, most of Syrian oil fields were under control of the Islamic State (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia). The Brookings Institution provides more accurate data: 60 percent. In 2015, the RAND Corporation calculated that approximate volume of production at those fields was 40,000 barrels per day, providing millions of dollars in revenue to the international terrorist alliance.
Militants transported stolen oil through the territory of Syrian Kurdistan to the areas controlled by other groups west of Aleppo and Idlib, as well as via Iraq, and then to Turkey. The Syrian government bought a part of this oil via intermediaries in order to fill its oil refineries in Homs. Damascus had to take this step in order not to stop the supply of energy resources to the civilians.
In September 2014, the US attacked Syrian oil fields controlled by the militants from the air. The first strike of forty-seven Tomahawk cruise missiles was aimed at the refineries in Mayadin, Al-Hasakah and Abu Kamal. However, the American air raids could not stop the oil business of the Islamic State (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) for quite some time.
Only 2017, they declared the victory over the terrorists, but still the US-led coalition does not allow the Syrian army to cross the Euphrates. The Syrian troops, supported by Russia, tried to recapture the al Omar oil field from militants. In response, the "democratic forces" of the opposition called on to the help of the US-led coalition. The US readily supported their protégés and launched air strikes against the Syrian army, killing about 300 soldiers and officers.
Soon after the US successfully retained its “estate”, Rex Tillerson, former head of the US Department of State, proudly declared: "The United States and the coalition control 30% of Syrian territory, most of the country's population and its oil fields." It was assumed that such control should provide Americans with the opportunity to influence the further development of the situation in the region.
All the members of the "small group" in Syria (the UK, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, France) supported the US actions. They agree with their patron that it would be nice to divide Syria along the Euphrates. Therefore it is necessary to create the province of “Eastern Euphrates” with the military and financial assistance of their collation. This province would be led by Kurd and Arab tribes. No sooner said than done. The US has already sent its official representative there - the former Ambassador to Bahrain, William Roback.
How about the current head of the White House? Donald Trump has repeatedly stated his intention to withdraw the US troops from Syria. He promised this way back when he was running for president. Such a step by Washington would lead to the opposite result - it would allow Damascus to agree with the Kurds and Arab tribes in the north-east of the country and, as a result, restore the territorial integrity of Syria.
It looks like Donald Trump’s good intentions fail to find supporters in Washington. Influential members of his administration and some US allies - primarily Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE - are ready to take great pains to prevent the unity of Syria. Meanwhile, an army is being formed in the north-east of the country, designed to repel attacks by government forces and complete the division of the country. The core of this army consists of Kurds, and it is supported by mercenaries from US private military companies.
The idea to create a mercenary army in Syria was put forward in 2017 by Erik Prince, a former US Navy SEAL officer and founder of the government services and security company Blackwater , who did good business on the war in Iraq. Later Prince moved to the UAE where he trained elite mercenary units for Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, who later participated in hostilities in Syria and Yemen.
Prince is far from analyzing the geopolitical configuration, he pursues his own interests – to “privatize the war” using this chaos and raise additional income from the oil business. Earlier, his proposal to replace American soldiers in Syria with mercenary units was rejected by US Secretary of Defense James Mattis. But Mattis resigned at the end of last year and today there are strong indications that the idea of Prince has not sunk into oblivion, and he will still be able to make his criminal deal in Syria.
After all, what could be more profitable these days than business on blood and oil?