Gaius Publius: Syria Is Another Pipeline War

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. Originally published at at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive  here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny

Proposed pipeline routes through the Middle East to gas markets in Europe. The purple line is the Western-supported Qatar-Turkey pipeline. All of the nations it passes through — Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey (all highlighted in red) — have agreed to it … except Syria. The red line is the “Islamic Pipeline” from Iran through Iraq into Syria. See text below for further explanation. (Source: MintPress News; click to enlarge)

Summary first: We have been at war in Syria over pipelines since 1949. This is just the next mad phase.

I’m not sure most Americans have figured out what’s happening in Syria, because so much of what we hear is confusing to us, and really, we know so little of the context for it. Is it an insurgency against a brutal ruler? Is it a group of insurgencies struggling for power in a nearly failed state? Is it a proxy war expressing the territorial and ideological interests of the U.S., Russia, Turkey and Iran?

Or something else?

According to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. it is something else — a war between competing national interests to build, or not build, a pipeline to the Mediterranean so natural gas can be exported to Europe. Inconveniently for Syria, that nation lies along an obvious pipeline route.

Which makes it another war between interests for money — something not very hard to understand at all.

Here’s Kennedy’s argument via EcoWatch. This is a long piece, well worth a full read, but I’ll try to present just the relevant sections here.

The Historical Context: Decades of CIA-Sponsored Coups and Counter-Coups in Syria

Kennedy’s introductory section contains an excellent examination of the history of U.S. involvement in Syria starting in the 1950s with the Cold War machinations of the Eisenhower-appointed Dulles brothers, John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State, and Allen Dulles, the head of the CIA. Together, they effectively ruled U.S. foreign policy.

Kennedy writes (my emphasis):

Syria: Another Pipeline War

America’s unsavory record of violent interventions in Syria—obscure to the American people yet well known to Syrians—sowed fertile ground for the violent Islamic Jihadism that now complicates any effective response by our government to address the challenge of ISIS. So long as the American public and policymakers are unaware of this past, further interventions are likely to only compound the crisis. Moreover, our enemies delight in our ignorance.

[W]e need to look at history from the Syrians’ perspective and particularly the seeds of the current conflict. Long before our 2003 occupation of Iraq triggered the Sunni uprising that has now morphed into the Islamic State, the CIA had nurtured violent Jihadism as a Cold War weapon and freighted U.S./Syrian relationships with toxic baggage.

During the 1950’s, President Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers rebuffed Soviet treaty proposals to leave the Middle East a cold war neutral zone and let Arabs rule Arabia. Instead, they mounted a clandestine war against Arab Nationalism—which CIA Director Allan [sic] Dulles equated with communism—particularly when Arab self-rule threatened oil concessions. They pumped secret American military aid to tyrants in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon favoring puppets with conservative Jihadist ideologies which they regarded as a reliable antidote to Soviet Marxism. At a White House meeting between the CIA’s Director of Plans, Frank Wisner, and Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, in September of 1957, Eisenhower advised the agency, “We should do everything possible to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect.”

The CIA began its active meddling in Syria in 1949—barely a year after the agency’s creation. Syrian patriots had declared war on the Nazis, expelled their Vichy French colonial rulers and crafted a fragile secularist democracy based on the American model. But in March of 1949, Syria’s democratically elected president, Shukri-al-Kuwaiti, hesitated to approve the Trans Arabian Pipeline, an American project intended to connect the oil fields of Saudi Arabia to the ports of Lebanon via Syria. In his book, Legacy of Ashes, CIA historian Tim Weiner recounts that in retaliation, the CIA engineered a coup, replacing al-Kuwaiti with the CIA’s handpicked dictator, a convicted swindler named Husni al-Za’im. Al-Za’im barely had time to dissolve parliament and approve the American pipeline before his countrymen deposed him, 14 weeks into his regime.

Kennedy then details the history of coups and counter-coups in and against Syria, and concludes this section with this:

Thanks in large part to Allan Dulles and the CIA, whose foreign policy intrigues were often directly at odds with the stated policies of our nation, the idealistic path outlined in the Atlantic Charter was the road not taken. In 1957, my grandfather, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, sat on a secret committee charged with investigating CIA’s clandestine mischief in the Mid-East. The so called “Bruce Lovett Report,” to which he was a signatory, described CIA coup plots in Jordan, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Egypt, all common knowledge on the Arab street, but virtually unknown to the American people who believed, at face value, their government’s denials.

The report blamed the CIA for the rampant anti-Americanism that was then mysteriously taking root “in the many countries in the world today.” … A parade of Iranian and Syrian dictators, including Bashar al-Assad and his father, have invoked the history of the CIA’s bloody coups as a pretext for their authoritarian rule, repressive tactics and their need for a strong Russian alliance. These stories are therefore well known to the people of Syria and Iran who naturally interpret talk of U.S. intervention in the context of that history.

While the compliant American press parrots the narrative that our military support for the Syrian insurgency is purely humanitarian, many Syrians see the present crisis as just another proxy war over pipelines and geopolitics. Before rushing deeper into the conflagration, it would be wise for us to consider the abundant facts supporting that perspective.

So much for our supposed interest in “humanitarian” intervention in Syria. From a Syrian point of view, it has never been thus. It has been about pipelines since 1949, and they understand that, even if we don’t.

The Current Conflagration

Kennedy then turns to the present, or the near-present. Refer to the map above as you read:

A Pipeline War

In [the Syrians’] view, our war against Bashar Assad did not begin with the peaceful civil protests of the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead it began in 2000 when Qatar proposed to construct a $10 billion, 1,500km pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.

Qatar shares with Iran, the South Pars/North Dome gas field, the world’s richest natural gas repository. The international trade embargo, until recently, prohibited Iran from selling gas abroad and ensured that Qatar’s gas could only reach European markets if it is liquefied and shipped by sea, a route that restricts volume and dramatically raises costs.

The EU, which gets 30 percent of its gas from Russia, was equally hungry for the pipeline which would have given its members cheap energy and relief from Vladimir Putin’s stifling economic and political leverage. Turkey, Russia’s second largest gas customer, was particularly anxious to end its reliance on its ancient rival and to position itself as the lucrative transect hub for Asian fuels to EU markets. The Qatari pipeline would have benefited Saudi Arabia’s conservative Sunni Monarchy by giving them a foothold in Shia dominated Syria.

The Saudi’s geopolitical goal is to contain the economic and political power of the Kingdom’s principal rival, Iran, a Shiite state, and close ally of Bashar Assad. The Saudi monarchy viewed the U.S. sponsored Shia takeover in Iraq as a demotion to its regional power and was already engaged in a proxy war against Tehran in Yemen, highlighted by the Saudi genocide against the Iranian backed Houthi tribe.

Which puts the Qatari pipeline squarely opposite to Russia’s national interest — natural gas (methane) sales to Europe.

Of course, the Russians, who sell 70 percent of their gas exports to Europe, viewed the Qatar/Turkey pipeline as an existential threat. In Putin’s view, the Qatar pipeline is a NATO plot to change the status quo, deprive Russia of its only foothold in the Middle East, strangle the Russian economy and end Russian leverage in the European energy market. In 2009, Assad announced that he would refuse to sign the agreement to allow the pipeline to run through Syria “to protect the interests of our Russian ally.”

That was likely the last straw vis-à-vis the U.S. Which brings us to another pipeline, the so-called “Islamic Pipeline” (see map above):

“Assad further enraged the Gulf’s Sunni monarchs by endorsing a Russian approved “Islamic pipeline” running from Iran’s side of the gas field through Syria and to the ports of Lebanon. The Islamic pipeline would make Shia Iran instead of Sunni Qatar, the principal supplier to the European energy market and dramatically increase Tehran’s influence in the Mid-East and the world. Israel also was understandably determined to derail the Islamic pipeline which would enrich Iran and Syria and presumably strengthen their proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Another, competing pipeline which would run through Syrian territory, but this time carrying Iranian gas instead of Qatari gas. Thus the demonizing of Assad as evil in the mold of Saddam Hussein, instead of just a run-of-the-mill Middle East autocrat, as bad as some but better than others. Kennedy includes a good section on the history of the al-Assad family’s rule of Syria, including this information from top reporters Sy Hersh and Robert Parry:

According to Hersh, “He certainly wasn’t beheading people every Wednesday like the Saudis do in Mecca.” Another veteran journalist, Bob Parry, echoes that assessment. “No one in the region has clean hands but in the realms of torture, mass killings, civil liberties and supporting terrorism, Assad is much better than the Saudis.”

In September 2013, the Sunni states involved in the Qatar-Turkey pipeline were so determined to remove Syrian opposition to the pipeline that they offered, via John Kerry, to carry the whole cost of an U.S. invasion to topple al-Assad.

Kerry reiterated the offer to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL27): “With respect to Arab countries offering to bear the costs of [an American invasion] to topple Assad, the answer is profoundly Yes, they have. The offer is on the table.”

Obama’s response:

Despite pressure from Republicans, Barrack Obama balked at hiring out young Americans to die as mercenaries for a pipeline conglomerate. Obama wisely ignored Republican clamoring to put ground troops in Syria or to funnel more funding to “moderate insurgents.” But by late 2011, Republican pressure and our Sunni allies had pushed the American government into the fray.

The rest is a history of provocation and over-reaction — a great deal of both — and chaos and death in Syria. Kennedy provides much detail here, at one point adding:

[Syria’s] moderates are fleeing a war that is not their war. They simply want to escape being crushed between the anvil of Assad’s Russian backed tyranny and the vicious Jihadi Sunni hammer that we had a hand in wielding in a global battle over competing pipelines. You can’t blame the Syrian people for not widely embracing a blueprint for their nation minted in either Washington or Moscow. The super powers have left no options for an idealistic future that moderate Syrians might consider fighting for. And no one wants to die for a pipeline.

I’ll leave it there, but again, do read the entire piece if you want to truly understand what’s going on in Syria, and what is about to go on.

Bottom Line

Bottom line, it’s as Kennedy said: “No one wants to die for a pipeline” … but many do and will.

I’ll offer three thoughts. One, if we weren’t so determined to be deeply dependent on fossil fuels, this would be their war, not ours. Two, we are deeply dependent on fossil fuels because of the political machinations of the oil companies, their CEOs, and the banks and hedge funds who fund them, all of whom pay our government officials — via campaign contributions and the revolving door — to prolong that dependence. We’re here because the holders of big oil money want us here.

And three, keep all this in mind during the term of the next president. It will help you make sense of the phony warrior-cum-humanitarian arguments we’re almost certain to be subjected to.

We have been at war in Syria over pipelines since 1949. This is just the next mad phase.

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  1. TheCatSaid

    Thank you for this outstanding explanation and practical summing up of Kennedy’s longer piece. It’s amazing how the historical facts of US meddling are such a well-kept secret from the American public.

    The dearth of historical perspective also exposes some of the biases in partially-alternative news sources Al Jazeera and RT. While both have perspectives and coverage that can contribute to understanding of various issues, in relation to Syria and the competing fossil fuel strategies critical to Qatar/Saud/US and Russia/Iran, both AJ and RT have reasons for protecting their own sponsors’ interests.

    Thanks NC for providing writers like Gaius Publius who provide such important context.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Seconded. This along with the Adam Curtis film ”HyperNormalisation” that someone here linked to a week or two ago go a long way to explaining what’s really going on in Syria.

      1. TheCatSaid

        See also the Corbett Report roundtable discussion here about the refugee crisis. It provides yet more perspectives. Eye-opening in different ways that this excellent post. Multiple groups and individuals benefit, in addition to the pipeline context GP shares.

  2. Crazy Horse

    ” It’s amazing how the historical facts of US meddling are such a well-kept secret from the American public.”

    I don’t find it amazing at all. Not when five media organizations own the entire MSM of the US “free press.”

    My education as to how the “free press” operates began decades ago during the death squad wars in Central America. A group of students and professors at the university I was attending organized an international conference to discuss the background and events of the conflict. Somehow they got visas for high level members of the FMLN and Sandinista rebels who had never been allowed into the US. The State Department sent their charge de affairs to El Salvador. This conference was the highest level public meeting between rebel forces and the US backers of the oligarch’s in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua that took place during an entire decade of conflict.

    I’ve never forgotten the point at which the State Department’s representative broke down in tears when he finally couldn’t lie any more. The breaking point came when he was giving the official description of the death of two nuns and a member of the audience interrupted and said: “Sir, I was there and witnessed the massacre, so don’t try to alter history and whitewash the presence of a blonde-haired CIA advisor away.

    The local paper (The Eugene Register Guard) had just received a national award a the best regional newspaper in the country. They had a reporter present during the entire conference, and full links to the national news services like the AP, but they did their duty and blacked out all coverage of the event. So national news was fully managed even four decades ago, long before the consolidation of the MSM as a pure propaganda arm of the State.

    1. TheCatSaid

      That is a great story. I’m grateful to hear your first-hand experience about what you personally saw, and how the local paper blacked it out.

      It reminds me of someone else’s experience that made a deep impression on me, also relating to Central America. In a lengthy interview relating to his book in 2012, David E. Martin discusses his “epiphany” moment relating to government dissembling. He was in a Central American country–sorry I can’t remember where–I believe doing volunteer work. He traveled across the border to another country in the region to go to the beaches on weekends. There he discovered that US intelligence agency people let down their guard when far from the USA and relaxing on the beach with a drink or two. He learned lots of things from them about what the US was actually doing behind the scenes.

      Later he developed considerable expertise in big data analysis that revealed agency activities (US and foreign) not visible to the general public, and beyond the capabilities of the intelligence agencies themselves to discern.

      Like you, his firsthand experience of the dishonesty going on shaped his future actions. In his case, I believe it supported his understanding and determination to support transparency in transactions of any kind.

  3. Katharine

    Thank you for this! Historians are apt to complain that personal reminiscence cannot be verified, but sometimes it is all we have, and it’s important for the stories to be told.

    1. TheCatSaid

      Yes yes yes! For example, my father personally knew that the government knew about the coming attack on Pearl Harbor weeks in advance. Why? Because his parents owned a San Francisco building with a few apartments. One day a new tenant, a young journalist, rang their doorbell with a telegram in his hands, explaining with embarrassment that he just got the news he was being posted to Hawaii to cover the upcoming attack by the Japanese. My father read the telegram himself. As a result he knew what we were subsequently told by the government was a lie. Only much later did some historians catch up with the truth, e.g. “Day of Deceit”, revelations of prior code-breaking, etc., and even so the understanding for USA foreknowledge/instigation of the Japanese attack is presented in Wikipedia as a “Conspiracy Theory” (I know, Wikipedia is not a bastion of credibility, rather a mark of the consensus we’re meant to accept). Every year the Pearl Harbor events are presented as a surprise attack, perpetuating the meme to the next generation.

      1. TheCatSaid

        While “only” anecdotal, it’s still relevant to my understanding of those events, and my ongoing understanding of government, media, and even the risks of online “fact-checking” sites.

      2. Synoia

        The US established an oil embargo against Japan some months before the Pearl Harbor attack. Embargoes are considered an act of war.

        Who was on first again?

        1. John Morrison

          Refusal to sell or trade or do business with someone is most certainly not a valid provocation for war or violence.

          1. TheCatSaid

            It was serious from Japan’s perspective because they had no indigenous energy/fuel sources. I believe there was more involved than just the embargo, though.

            I think violence always reflects a failure of imagination to find another way. Unfortunately geopolitics folks apparently don’t agree with me.

  4. Olivier

    Interesting piece but it ends with a major letdown: “Other than humanitarian assistance and guaranteeing the security of Israel’s borders, the U.S. has no legitimate role in this conflict.” Apparently realism and common sense still have their limits and they are spelled Israel. I fear that as long as this worship of Israel remain entrenched a root and branch reform of US policies in the Levant will remain impossible.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I searched this webpage for the quote you cited — turns out the quote comes from the Kennedy article this post references.

  5. Synoia

    However, and there is always an however, the analysis omits the current Imperial ambitions of Turkey’s Erdogan and the Saudi’s, coupled with fermenting and exploitation of Muslim unrest to keep the region unstable (and thus exploitable), as well as a strategic imperative for Russia.

    There is a very complex brew of ambitions at work, and it is not clear who is acting in the US’ interests and who is not, the term shifting alliances seems to describe the region. What does come though is the duplicity of the US’ public statement when contrasted with its secret foreign policy, it appears fertile ground for manipulative liars. (Of course none would never accuse and of our past exemplary public servants of such behavior).

    Russia wants both no competition for its NG, and the absence of Muslim unrest along the silk road to its south and along its vulnerable underbelly.

    I’m reminded of a old joke:
    What do Mechanical Engineers build: Weapons.
    What do Civil Engineers build: Targets.

    Any NG pipeline though Syria would be undefendable, and vulnerable to attack, or threats of attack.

    Please explain how the US would defend the trans-Syria nature gas pipeline.

    1. Olivier

      I wouldn’t worry about Saudi Arabia: the regime has feet of clay and with a little luck will perish naturally. A resurgent Turkey with a neo-ottoman ideology is the real danger.

    2. olga

      RK’s article provides invaluable historical info, but I agree that blaming the current war against Syria on pipeline politics is simplistic. Seymour Hersh published his Redirection article in he New Yorker in Mar. 2007; it explains some of the convoluted push for an attack. Turkey has territorial ambitions and Erdo supports Muslim Brotherhood (an enemy of the Assads) , plus opposition to an independent Kurdistan; Qataris want a pipeline; Saudis need to export Wahhabi fighters lest they turn against the spoiled monarchy, plus they’ve always opposed the secular nature of the Syrian government; France has it colonial ‘ties’ to the region; the Brits never shy away from yet another neo-colonial project; Israelis love (and benefit from) the chaos; the Russians decry the chaos and are rightfully concerned about the spillover into their regions (they know well that cia and Saudis actively supported the Chechen insurgency), and sure they would oppose a Q. pipeline, although it is important to remember that their cooperation with Syria dates years back (when still Soviet Union) – way before Russia exported gas to EU. Did I leave anyone…? (Maybe Jordan – they seem to be cooperating with all (except maybe Russians) and likely pray they themselves are not consumed by the vortex of destruction…

      1. TheCatSaid

        Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has had quite a bit to add about Erdogan, also Gulen, CIA, and how politicians in USA have been compromised by them. (Hastert, pedophilia, etc.–all ignored by the media and courts just give a slap on the wrist.) She said her FBI colleagues were gutted when, after they’d gathered massive files of evidence, the FBI changed the department in charge of the files files/investigation to the Counter Terrorism Department–meaning none of that evidence could ever be used in a prosecution!

  6. susan the other

    the most disconcerting thing about this saga is that we are unable to get beyond it… Obama seems to have tried. now i’m wondering if Hillary was undermining him and yet still hated by the hawks because she didn’t start a war… the State Dept only benefited the MIC by trafficking in arms, almost like enticement, it seems.

  7. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for posting the excerpts from Robert F. Kennedy Jr’s work, the exposé and your analysis, Gaius. I was previously unaware of the pipeline issue as it relates to Syria. Causes me to wonder how much more is carefully hidden from us behind the veil of someone’s assessment of the chain of causation on the gameboard of this ruthless game and their desire for control. Further, while “Pipelineistan” is huge, there are others who have been dancing on the stage outside the spotlight (cui bono?). These conflicts are usually initiated for more than one reason, and I believe this is far from an exception.

    In any event, it’s far past time to end this tragedy. I want to see a road map to peace and intensified diplomatic efforts from both our government and others to end these wars of choice, to cut off the feeding tubes to various non-state actors, together with a profound shift in U.S. media treatment.

  8. Synoia

    The Islamic Pipeline Route is nonsense. NG pipelines need pumping stations (large compressors) at periodic intervals. The Islamic pipeline has nearly 1,000 miles of undersea route, if it passes through Cyprus South of Greece and North up the Aegean, or Italy, as it appears.

    All the routes must swing north and go through Turkey to Europe.

    There is no reason the Qatar pipeline could not parallel the Gulf, enter Kuwait, go North through Iraq and then enter Turkey. However, Northern Iraq is Kurdish, mountainous and difficult terrain, but not impossible, as the trans Alaska pipeline has proved. It probably would give the Kurds too much leverage, thus the desert route is favored.

    The Hypothesis for this article is quite suspect.

    1. LifelongLib

      The text implies that the “Islamic Pipeline” would have its terminus in the “ports of Lebanon”. But the map shows a dashed line continuing across the Mediterranean. Hmm…

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Presumably an LNG terminal with ongoing shipment by vessel. Doesn’t seem to offer meaningful economic advantages beyond existing route.

    2. craazyboy

      The Hypothesis for this article is quite suspect.

      I’d put the inflection on that we think a pipeline is needed anymore may be idiocy.

      I was once a Sasol stockholder and when Sasol got a contract from Qatar to put in a gas to motor fuel plant (not a LPN plant – they got lots of those already), I studied up on Qatar a bit. Firstly to find out if they are “moderate arabs” – they are!!!

      I found their NG production cost is near zero (Sasol got a multi decade fixed price of 50 cents in whatever those customary units are). For exporting NG, they had already been building LPN terminals and the world had been building lots of huge LPN tanker ships. Qatar was price competitive selling to anywhere in Europe with a LPN receiving port.

      So, build a 1000 mile super expensive pipeline and have a 1000 mile long terrorist target? Build it in stable ME countries? Keep it safe from the world’s governments’ bombs? Seems to me it’s an idea that’s become extinct.

  9. Synapsid

    Small point: If you think that “…we are deeply dependent on fossil fuels because of the political machinations of…” then you aren’t paying attention to the legacy of Henry Ford and his rivals.

  10. Andrew Watts

    I don’t buy any materialist explanation for the Syrian Civil War. The pipeline was only in early pre-planning stages when the initial protests broke out during the Arab Spring. Similarly the Cold War was being fought in 1949. The driving factor then was the duel between the US and Soviet Union’s spheres of influence. Nasserism and Baathism was self-identified as a form of socialism and considered naturally aligned with the Soviet Union. It isn’t hard to list a myriad of other factors that contributed to the outbreak of the revolution and civil war.

    -The bloody history of the Muslim Brotherhood and it’s struggle with the Syrian Baathist regime since the breakup of the United Arab Republic.

    -The 2003 invasion of Iraq which destabilized the region and subsequent American efforts to regime change the entire Middle East. Congress passed a resolution in the same year that condemned Syria/Assad on the same basis Saddam was; support for terrorism, WMDs, etc. which probably led Syrian intelligence to support the insurgency in Iraq. Including jihadists.

    -The neoliberal policies of the government in Damascus which contributed to the poverty of rural areas and undermined it’s political support.

    -Climate change, drought, and Turkish dams restricting the flow of water from the Euphrates.

    -Syria’s geostrategic alignment with Iran and it’s support for Hezbollah.

    -The Islamic State’s ideology that secular nationalism is an offense unto God and Iraq/Syria belonging not to the Iraqi/Syrian people but to -Sunni- Muslims.

  11. Sluggeaux

    RFK Jr. has a pretty suspect history on many levels, but CIA meddling in Syria and the rest of the Fertile Crescent has a 70-year history. I studied the region as an undergraduate, and while RFK Jr’s conclusions about natural gas pipelines may be crack-pot, there can be no factual dispute that the crazy-pants U.S. military-industrial oligarchy’s ties to the Israeli right-wing and the House of Saud have contributed to millions of dead and millions of refugees in the region (and now Western Europe) with no stable outcome in sight.

    Likewise, there can be no doubt that the next president, whomever she or he may be, will escalate the killing and the misery in the region in the names of both religious fanaticism and oil and gas extraction. The irony is that the West’s technological advantages will eventually be overwhelmed by the sheer number of human beings being displaced. Even if they can overcome moral objections through propaganda and dis-information, the Western military-industrial complex simply can’t manufacture enough bombs and missiles to annihilate the Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians, Palestinians, and Maghrebans of all persuasions who are flooding into Europe every day.

    1. different clue

      I agree that there “can be no doubt” about everything you say the next President will cause if the next President is Clinton.

      But should I agree with “there can be no doubt” if the next President turns out to be Trump? After Trump has said that Assad is of course the legitimate authority in Syria? And has condemned Hillary’s no-fly-zone concept as leading to World War Three?

      In the few days remaining, perhaps we should consider the possibility that Trump is the Peace Candidate.

      1. Sluggeaux

        Just because Trump has enough of a sense of self-preservation not to risk war with Russia in Syria doesn’t make him the “Peace Candidate” when the demonization and de-humanization of Muslims was one of the fundamental cornerstones of his candidacy. The Umm’ah stretches from the Philippines to Morocco, and the Muslims live on top of a lot of oil and gas that America would like to control.

      2. Dianne Shatin

        “In the few days remaining, perhaps we should consider the possibility that Trump is the Peace Candidate.”

        When I read thoughts or ideas such as this I can feel my chest squeeze. If only it were true … but
        I would trade a Hillary Clinton Presidency with a Republican Democratic Congress for the fasicist state
        Trump and his henchman will implement beginning on day one. If you cherish our nation’s National Forests and National Parks, just of one example, they will be auctioned off and their ‘resources’ extracted. If you care about whether you and everyone has access in America to potable water,
        as bad as it is now, you will be drinking reused waste water… make America great again… have you been to Bejing lately? Most people wear masks the air pollution is so bad… get rid of regs in the U.S. without thought or critical evaluation… just get rid of them… and you will get the government you deserve. ‘Peace in Our Time’… be careful for what you wish… exercise your ability to think critically about for whom you vote…and for whom in America justice will be served. .

  12. Roland

    I disagree with this analysis.

    Bashar was actively courting Qatari and Saudi capital during Syria’s economic liberalisation effort 2005-2011.

    Billions of Gulf money was invested in many parts of Syria during that period, mostly in construction and real estate. Turkish investment was also significant.

    Bashar was not opposed to a pipeline from the Gulf. Even the Lebanese internal crisis in 2008 did not interrupt the flow of investments.

    Don’t forget that Turco-Syrian relations were warm, up until 2011. Syria and Turkey were not only cooperating on pipeline plans, but they had made a free trade pact and a water deal on the Euphrates.

    Don’t forget that Bashar was following a neoliberal policy line from his ascension up until the civil war. Syria had created free zones, made joint ventures with foreign capital, loosened currency and exchange regulations, allowed the formation of private banks, opened a stock market, and had begun eliminating subsidies and price controls on food and fuel. The idea was to follow a “Little Tiger” model: liberalize the economy first, political reforms to follow sometime afterwards.

    The removal of food and fuel subsidies was ill-timed. It coincided with drought. It also coincided with high inflation in food and energy costs throughout the Middle East region, which was mostly caused by the perennial loose money policies in the developed world (the loose money caused a lot of inflation in the world, but not where the monetarists wanted it). Inflation in urban housing and education costs, caused by the large influx of over a million refugees from the Iraq War, also added to the economic strain on Syrian society.

    1. Andrew Watts

      You did a great job of tying together the economic factors at play and neoliberalization of the Syrian economy. Kudos. The Islamic State makes. or rather made, a big show of subsidizing fuel/food in the areas under it’s control. It was one of the ways that it garnered political support. The government in Damascus deprived itself of political support in the beginning of the Arab Spring for privileged access to international capital markets.

    2. Fiver

      The pipeline is the least important aspect of the article given we already know Syria had been targeted for ‘neoliberalization’ openly since the ’90’s, the moves to ‘open up’ to the West post-Iraq 2003 by both Assad and Ghadaffi were fairly pragmatic in recognition of US power and interests, one notable exception being that with oil, Ghadaffi’s genuine interest in the well-being of his people was able to be realized in a country with a standard of living and overall wellness the majority of the people cherished. But it was all destroyed, including their gigantic water waterworks built to carry water from under the Sahara Desert to Libya to provide huge amounts of water at low cost. This was a gigantic undertaking that had dozens of western construction and engineering firms spending unbelievable amounts of money. And now it’s wrecked and it is the West’s fault. That amount of water was a very special thing to Libya and important all over the region. The people loved having their water flow the way we take for granted.

  13. TheCatSaid

    There seem to be so many layers of interests, the pipelines are only one (and maybe just a superficial or fake outer layer at that, judging by the various commenters). Sigh.

    1. susan the other

      thanks for this link. it makes much more sense than pipeline wars. economic decisions are eventually resolved; civil wars are too; even religious wars… what does not get resolved so easily is empire – it takes much longer for control freaks like the US military, with all its power, to learn to ease up. Greg Palest has voiced this view as well – that this is a war for control, not necessarily oil/natgas.

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