Reducing Interests and Tension in Syria

As Russia bombs Syrian rebels and leaves the American strategy of toppling Assad in shambles, many wonder how Uncle Sam is going to respond. But focusing too much on ‘America’ and how it will respond may give rise to the false belief that America responds as one monolith. How or why America would intervene deeper in Syria is of much more importance now because of the increasing and direct Russian and Iranian presence in Syria. Those outside the American War Party bloc do not want to see a civil war grow into a regional war and then a global war. There are openings to appeal to the interests that use American military power and drive our foreign policy to seek another route, instead of responding with fire.

Not just another route in Syria, but another route for natural gas. The main drivers behind American meddling in Syria are progressives exporting democracy, military industrial equipment and munitions vendors, pro-Israel Oded Yinon plan implementers, and Gulf kingdoms wanting a pipeline through Syria to European markets. Russia is making a mockery of the American strategy and phony war against ISIS , which started last year. How can the combined forces that want Assad gone be persuaded to change their minds? The progs can shift their attention elsewhere because they are a machine looking for more nations to wreck, and the MI complex recently received a bone in the extension to the American presence in Afghanistan. Israel will not budge, but there is a way to pluck off the Gulf kingdoms for their elusive pipeline dream.

There was a super giant gas field discovery in Egypt that is double the large discovery that Israel previously announced. From the Forbes article, some insight into what this means.

For Egypt, the successful development of the field would put them on track to join in on a burgeoning energy production push in the Eastern Mediterranean, previously led by Israel and, to some degree, Cyprus. Further, the field would play a significant role in supporting Cairo’s efforts to increase domestic energy production to meet surging domestic demand.

In recent years, Egypt has faced substantial challenges to meeting its energy needs as political and financial instability have threatened local production and made it difficult to afford costly imports without accruing large foreign debts. While small discoveries have provided Cairo with some momentum towards attracting the interest and investment necessary to move towards its energy goals, a discovery of this stature could be the key to overcoming any doubt among potential investors.

Here is a win-win for just about everyone. Egypt needs stability. No one wants to see the largest Arab nation with a hungry and angry population descend into chaos. Egypt was steadily collapsing as it experienced its short lived democracy. The junta removed the democratic tumor, and subsequently, enforced its will to show the Muslim Brotherhood that it meant business. With the Brussels elite opening the doors to migrants, a nation of 80 million slipping into chaos would send millions more to Europe. Helping Egypt becomes an important issue for Europe.

No news from Egypt is good news, but for Egypt to be stable in the long term, the country needs economic development. If Egypt can export gas, it can earn foreign currency and feed their population. This is not that different from what Lord Cromer did in Egypt by investing in their irrigation systems and water management. British engineers and some capital invigorated their cotton production for export. The British created a miracle in the desert by harnessing the Nile waters. Those efforts turned their economy around, paid off their debts, and caused the nation to bloom. With an entirely different commodity, some foreign engineering and investment can repeat this process in Egypt.

If Egypt does have such a large and economically viable gas field off its coast, then they join many in the eastern Mediterranean in natgas discoveries in recent years. To help cement development in Egyptian gas fields, building a pipeline from the Gulf across the desert to Egypt would make sense and remove the Gulf kingdoms’ desire for a pipeline through Syria. A pipeline would have Egypt as a central location, but then could hook up via a sub-sea pipeline to the other fields that are being discovered off the shores of Israel, Cyprus and Greece, and eventually feed into Europe. If you laugh at such a long sub-sea pipeline, note that it would be shorter than the current Norway-England subsea pipeline. This only needs the will, the engineering, and the proper allocation of capital.

This does not remove Assad from power, but if the Gulf kingdoms have a new avenue for their natgas exports to reach Europe, they can be cajoled into dropping support for rebels. Their interest is taken care of, and it strengthens the military junta in Egypt that the Saudis currently support. At some point, the Saudis should notice the changing attitudes in DC and be concerned about their autocratic rule. Active war zones are avoided, and ISIS is nowhere near the middle of the Arabian deserts. It will still burn to see the Iranian ally still in power in Syria, but the euros piling up due to EU gas markets will placate a Saudi kingdom that is facing a money crunch due to low oil prices. These foreign nations often use economics to persuade the USG leviathan to act the way they want it to, so why not turn the tables on them?

If USG interest in Syria is a stool with supporting legs, this removes a leg. The American military and people voiced their reluctance at intervening in Syria in 2013, so the domestic marketing is not there. Without a Saudi/Qatari benefit, it just leaves Israeli interests persuading the US military down a path towards possible confrontation and problems with Russia and Iran. One less voice whispering in Uncle Sam’s ear. America would disengage. American disengagement from the Middle East is going to force many of these foreign interests to re-assess their interactions with the USG system. Our policy should be to help them see this light and act in ways that are conducive to building safe, orderly neighbors.

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3 Comments

  1. Any thoughts of the Russian jet that went down over the Sinai? Some speculate a mechanical failure, but there was an ISIS video released which shows the plane’s final moments.

    1. I saw the ISIS announcement but hard to speculate without technical findings.

  2. Good article though I’d say it’s a bit simplistic to think Saudi Arabia and Qatar would back off if they had an alternative pipeline through Egypt. They want Assad gone for geopolitical, religious, and sectarian reasons. A gas route to the Mediterranean would be a side bonus. The aftermath of the Iran deal has shown the Saudis alongside Israel are absolutely terrified of the Islamic Republic and rightly so, Tehran explicitly calls for the destruction of the American aligned regimes. Syria and Iraq have become effectively clients of Iran as both sides of the war, terrorist and loyalist, have doubled down on the conflict’s nature as a cross-Gulf proxy war for regional hegemony. If loyalist forces are to win then Saudis and their allies in Jordan and Turkey will have suffered a terrible defeat, losing countless men and munitions. Hezbollah also gains a contiguous land border with the three other Resistance nations.

    Expect the pro-rebel sponsors to double down for a while but the success of Assad is inevitable, it will take one to two years at the current pace unless Turkey or the US mobilizes a full invasion force to counter this. The Saudis and the GCC may well bankrupt from the Yemeni war alone if it lasts as long as Syria has.

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