[Marxism] Jihadists and Baathists divide up the oil pie
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue May 21 07:12:11 MDT 2013
"The fact that the Syrian army has withdrawn from the heart of the
country and that the victorious Salafist groups have not pressed their
attack, but instead entered into a revenue-sharing agreement with
Damascus over the oil, show that both sides are satisfied with the
Jihadists' control of Syrian oilfields signals a decisive moment in conflict
Source of funding is helping al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra to sideline
western-backed rebels and reshape the Middle East
by Julian Borger
The stranglehold that Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies have achieved over
Syria's oilfields signals a decisive moment in the conflict that will
shape the rapidly and violently evolving map of the new Middle East.
The impact is immediately visible. With a new independent source of
funding, the jihadists holding the oilfields between al-Raqqa and Deir
Ezzor are much better equipped than their Sunni rivals, reinforcing the
advantage originally provided by Qatari backing. They have been able to
provide bread and other essentials to the people in the areas under
their control, securing an enduring popular base.
This serves to marginalise the western-backed rebels, the National
Coalition and the Supreme Military Council (SMC), even further. The
blustering claim by the SMC commander, Salim Idriss, that he was going
to muster a 30,000 force to retake the oilfields served only to
undermine his credibility.
More importantly, as so often in history, control over hydrocarbons has
solidified new lines on the map. The fact that the Syrian army has
withdrawn from the heart of the country and that the victorious Salafist
groups have not pressed their attack, but instead entered into a
revenue-sharing agreement with Damascus over the oil, show that both
sides are satisfied with the dividing lines.
The regime's forces, made more ethnically pure and more resolute by two
years of Sunni defections, is clearing out an Allawite state along the
Syrian coastal plain. The horrific massacres of Sunni communities in
Baniyas and al-Bayda earlier this month were acts of ethnic cleansing
designed to scare away any remaining Sunni pockets.
With the rise of al-Nusra, meanwhile, the importance of the Syrian-Iraq
border, forged nearly a century ago by Britain and France in the
Sykes-Picot agreement, is eroding fast as Sunni Salafist groups on both
sides find common cause. The executions of Syrian soldiers in a public
square in al-Raqqa were carried out under the black banner of the
Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, a merger between Syrian and Iraqi
While the makings of a Sunni mini-state are emerging in al-Jazira plain,
Upper Mesopotamia, stretching from Turkey to central Iraq, a Kurdish
state is forming to the east, again crystallised with the help of oil.
To the fury of Baghdad, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq
has reportedly struck a deal with Ankara for Turkish state energy
companies to take a stake in the region's oil and gas fields. The deal
has caused tension with Washington, apparently during the Turkish prime
minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to the White House last week.
For Ankara, the aggravation with the US is worth it. A reliable source
of energy is essential for Turkey if it wants to continue to grow and
eventually become the pipeline connection between Europe and the Middle
East. These geostrategic ambitions are the background to Ankara's
ceasefire with its own Kurdish separatists, the PKK, which has also
cleared the way for side deals with Syria's Kurds who hold oil and gas
fields in al-Hasakah.
The new map that is emerging from the turmoil may make a lot more
historical and cultural sense than the lines imposed by western
imperialism, but Assad's fateful decision two years ago to respond to
the Syrian uprising with violence rather than negotiation has meant that
the new Middle East will be even less stable than what came before,
perhaps for a generation at least. And oil has helped stoke the fire.
More information about the Marxism