We went with Gazprom to the west into Europe, to the east into China, to the south into Africa. Now we travel to the Eastern Mediterranean. And so, lets start with Syria.
Syria has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board for years, largely because of its important geo-strategic emplacement in the Middle East.
The process of cornering Syria started in 2003, just after the start of Gulf war 3. Syria was the main target of the 2005 Israeli attacks on Lebanon. Regime change in Damascus was the key objective. Tel Aviv’s 2006 defeat in Lebanon by Hezbollah spared Syria from an attack.
It was after these events in Lebanon that Washington took the initiative to negotiate with Damascus in the diplomatic arena. These attempts lasted until February 2010, and were aimed at delinking Syria from Iran. In 2007, when all sides were talking about a regional war igniting, Washington and its allies did launch their war. It was in this period that the destabilization and shadow wars against Lebanon, Syria, and Iran began.
On 25 February, 2010, two of Syria’s allies, Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah, and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran, met with Bashar Assad for a summit in Damascus. The summit meet was to discuss the proposed pipeline.
Natural gas is rapidly becoming the ‘clean energy’ of choice to replace coal and nuclear electric generation across the EU, since Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear after the Fukushima disaster. Given that the economic costs of using gas is dramatically lower, gas is rapidly becoming the energy of demand for the EU, the biggest emerging gas market in the world.
What one is really talking about is what’s happening on the immense energy battlefield that extends from Iran to the Pacific Ocean. It is there that the liquid war for the control of Eurasia takes place. It all comes down to black gold (crude oil) and blue gold(natural gas), hydrocarbon wealth beyond imagination.
Huge gas discoveries in Israel, Qatar, and in Israel combined to create the seeds of the present geopolitical clash over Syria, and the Assad regime.
Syria-Iran-Iraq Gas pipeline
It all started in July 2009, when Qatar proposed to Damascus the construction of a pipeline from its North Field – part of the same field with which it borders with Iran’s South Pars field – traversing Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria. From it would would link up with Turkey to supply the EU. Assad told Qatar that he is tied in with Gazprom, and declined the Qatari proposal.
In July 2011, Iran, Syria, and Iraq signed a historic gas pipeline agreement which went largely unnoticed. The pipeline would cost $10 billion , and take 3 years to complete. It would run from the Iranian port of Assalouyeh near the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, to Damascus in Syria, via Iraqi territory. From there, Iran would extend the pipeline from Damascus to the Mediterranean port of Tartus, where it would be delivered to EU markets. This deal was signed just as the US and Gulf destabilization operations against Syria were in full swing.
South Pars, whose gas reserves lie in a huge field that is divided between Iran and Qatar in the Gulf, is believed to be the world’s largest single gas field. De facto, it would be a Shia gas pipeline from Shia Iran via Shia-majority Iraq into Shia-friendly Syria. In addition to owning the Al-Jazeera TV station (Saudi Prince Bandar describes Qatar as a gas station with 300 people and a TV station) Qatar is tightly linked to the US military presence in the Gulf.
Qatar has no interest in the success of the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, which would be entirely independent of Qatar or Turkey transit routes. It is doing everything possible to sabotage it, up to and including arming and financing Syria’s rag-tag jihadist fighters, many of them from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Libya and other countries.
Further adding to Qatar’s determination to destroy the Syria-Iraq-Iran gas deal is the discovery in August 2011 by Syrian exploration companies of a huge new gas field in Qara near the border with Lebanon, and near the Russia-leased naval port of Tartus on the Syrian Mediterranean. Any export of Syrian or Iranian gas to the EU would go through the Russian-tied port of Tartus. The new Syrian discoveries are believed to equal or exceed those of Qatar.
Qatar’s plans calls for export of its gas via Jordan’s Gulf of Aqaba. The Emir of Qatar made a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood in which he backs their international expansion in return for peace at home in Qatar. A Muslim Brotherhood regime in Jordan and Syria backed by Qatar would change the entire geopolitics of the world gas market, suddenly and decisively in Qatar’s favor and to the disadvantage of Russia, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. That would also be a staggering negative blow to China. An Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline is not acceptable to Washington, not only because US vassals lose, but most of all because in currency terms it would bypass the petrodollar. Iran’s gas would be sold in a mixed bag of currencies.
Washington is pushing hard to sabotage this deal, using its proxies in the region. The “cover-story” was that it was a religious war, between the Shias and the Sunnis. The truth was far from this. A further target in this was to derail the “Four Seas” strategy announced By Syrian President Assad in 2009, according to which Damascus should become a pipeline hub connected to the Caspian Sea, the Black sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Eastern Mediterranean. Further, Damascus supports Iraq’s strategy of diversifying its delivery lines, once again trying to escape the ‘choke0ponts’ of the Strait of Hormuz. Thus, the importance of the Iraq-Iran-Syria pipeline. No wonder Syria is a red line for Iran.
The stakes of the game just got higher, with new, massive discoveries of gas in the Eastern Mediterranean. From Washington’s point of view, the game is clear : to try to isolate Russia, Iran and a regime-unchanged Syria as much as possible from this new gas bonanza.
And that brings us to Turkey. Ankara’s ambition is to position Turkey as the major energy crossroads for the whole of the EU.
- As a transit hub for gas from Iran, Central Asia, the Caspian and Russia
- As a hub for major gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean
- As a hub for oil and gas imported from the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Turkey plays the role key energy crossroads in the Qatar pipeline project.
The Syrian Stakes for Moscow
Russia’s Putin has drawn a deep hard line in the sand around the survival of Bashar Assad and Syria as a stable state. Although Russia keeps warning of a possible world war if Washington persists in its plans to topple Assad, Russia is no shape militarily and economically to do so.
Why is Russia so determined to save Syria from Washington’s clutches? There are two answers, besides the obvious one in regards to gas. The government of Syria hosts Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean. Regime change in Damascus will oust the Russian navy from the area by eliminating the only friendly docking facilities in the region. In the event of a showdown with NATO the base becomes strategic to Russia.
Furthermore, Libya and Syria are the only Mediterranean countries not tied to NATO. Now that Libya is gone, that leaves Syria. NATO’s aim is to turn the Mediterranean into a NATO lake. Were she to succeed in this, then the next step would be to take political control of Ukraine, and evict Russia from its super-strategic naval base at Sevastopol, located in the Crimea. Were that to happen, Russia loses any influence in Europe, the Middle East, and north Africa. Russia moves from a Eurasian power to an Asian power. And from there it’s all downhill for Russia and mankind. Palestine would not fare any better. In August 2011, Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas told visiting American congressmen that “security of the future Palestinian state will be handed to NATO under American command.” He may well see NATO and US troops stationed on his nation’s soil, but not on his terms.
Nothing occurs in isolation. Syria is no exception. The battle for future control of Syria is at the heart of an enormous geopolitical war. Its resolution will have huge consequences for either world peace or endless war and conflict. Turkey, Qatar, Israel, France and the US are playing with fire. Natural gas is the ingredient that is fuelling this insane scramble for energy in the region.
Looking at the future : Welcome to America’s Arc of Instability
The American- led invasion of Syria is parts of its attempts to divide Eurasia and maintain its global supremacy as a superpower. Washington has no mercy for its friends or its foes either and countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia will eventually be used as cannon fodder. The Arabs, Iran, and Turkey are being lined up for a major conflict, because the US is losing its superpower status. All that remains of Washington’s superpower status is its military might.
Washington is broke, socially divided, becoming racially polarized, and declining rapidly in its international influence. Igniting Eurasia with fire is Washington’s answer to prevent its own decline. The US plans on starting a great fire from Morocco to the Mediterranean, and onto the borders of China. This process has has begun through the destabilization of three different regions ; Central Asia, the Middle east, and North Africa.
Washington seems to be dreaming of this scenario : Kurdish revolts taking place in Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran; ethnic civil wars consuming Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, turkey and Yemen; instability and fighting bleeding Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, and Sudan ; Berbers and Arabs fighting one another across North Africa ; insecurity and political uncertainty spreading in Central Asia ; a war in the south Caucasus consuming Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijaan ; revolts igniting amongst local Caucasian peoples against Russia in the north Caucasus; the Persian zone being a zone of instability; and Russia at loggerheads with the EU and Turkey. Such a bonfire is being stroked by Washington.
Ultimately all this is meant to disrupt some of the world’s major energy routes and supplies to the energy-importing economies of Western Europe and East Asia. Such a scenario is dangerous for energy suppliers Russia and OPEC, which would have to choose between the EU and China in the event of energy shortages. A resource war is being ignited that would ruin Eurasia and Africa. This would happen while the US stands by in the Western Hemisphere, watching from a safe distance, just like it did during World War 1 and 2, before it steps in to pick up the pieces as the economic benefactor of a devastating global war.
Further complicating the picture is the recent confirmation of huge offshore Israeli natural gas reserves. Initial exploration in the early 1990s were confirmed in 2009.
The Tamar natural gas field off the coast of northern Israel, some 80 km west of Israel’s port of Haifa has an estimated 300 billion cubic meters of gas. Tamar was the largest gas discovery in 2009. The game changer was a dramatic discovery in late 2010 of another enormous natural gas field offshore Israel , called Leviathan, after the biblical sea monster. This field is some 120 kms west of Haifa. Estimate reserves are in the region of 500-600 billion cubic meters of gas. A Texas based company, Noble Energy, in partnership with with an Israeli company, Delek Group, are the shareholders. Noble is a Rockefeller-linked company, while the Delek Group belongs to Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva.
At the time, total Israeli gas reserves were estimated at only 30 billion cubis meters. Israel’s sole operating field, Yam Tethya, which supplies 70% of Israel’s needs, would be depleted by 2013. Within a matter of a year, Israel went from a gas famine to a feast.
Now Israel faces a strategic and very dangerous dilemma, as Israel is not too excited to see the shia pipeline (all of Israel’s foes), out-compete an Israeli gas export to the EU. There is no clear sea economic zone delimitation of borders between the neighbouring states. The Eastern Mediterranean gas pie is disputed by Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Palestine. The matter gets even more complicated because the states have disputes between themselves, as well each of them with Israel. There is a slim chance the countries of the region will effectively cooperate to develop the deposits.
It is no secret that there is enmity bordering on hatred between Nethanyahu and the Obama White house. The reason we will explore in our forthcoming issue, titled “The Break-Up”.
In 1999, British Gas did work to check if gas was available in commercial quantities. The consortium was British Gas, Consolidated Contractors Company and the Palestine Investment Fund – a publicly owned investment company used to strengthen the local economy. The Palestinian Authority faced two challengers : the political consent to develop the gas, and British Gas’s attempt to find buyers for the gas.
When the gas was discovered in 1999, Yasser Arafat proclaimed ; “It’s a gift from God to us, to our people.” Little did he realize that he would be murdered by Israel within five years.
The Beginning :
Israel has a centuries-old policy that goes something like this :” What’s ours is ours – – – what’s yours is negotiable” The question was how to take control of this gas. The answer reached was to kill Arafat (the obstacle). Israel then planned a move that went as follows:
Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2000. Then the Second Intifada erupted in September 2000. From this moment on , Arafat was a virtual prisoner in his bombed out offices in Ramallah, unable to exert more than minimal control over Palestinian life.
Former Prime Minister Sharon publicly admitted to having tried to kill Arafat several times. In September 2003, Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert publicly declared that the Israeli government intended to assassinate Arafat, claiming the cabinet’s decision to get rid of Arafat was “ a decision to remove Arafat as an obstacle to peace.” (or was it an obstacle to gain control of Gaza’s gas).
Israel never repudiated that decision. Just weeks before Arafat’s death, Sharon reiterated the threat to kill him.
In October 2004, Arafat became ill after eating a meal at his compound, and immediately, suspicions arose that he had been poisoned. He was flown to France for treatment, but it proved to no avail, and he passed away. Responsibility for Arafat’s death was attributed to Israel. A prime suspect in Arafat’s murder was Mahomed Dahlan, the West Bank security chief for the PA. Such were the tensions between Arafat’s wife, Suha, and the PA that she sent samples to Switzerland, while the PA sent samples to Russia.
Arafat’s death removed the obstacle of proceeding with the theft of the gas fields. And paved the way for a more pliant leadership under Mahmoud Abbas.
Arafat’s assassination was intended to destroy the Palestinian Authority, foment divisions within Fatah as well as between Fatah and Hamas.
It had taken nine years to identify the cause of death only because the new Palestinian leadership under Abbas did everything it could to block the truth from coming out. The PA did nothing to examine the circumstances of Arafat’s death. It refused an autopsy.
In July 2013, New York quietly asked investigative journalist Clayton Swisher, a former US Secret Service bodyguard who became friendly with Arafat and pressed his suspicions about Arafat’s death, that Al- Jazeera launched an investigation. Al Jazeera’s investigation led to the opening of a homicide inquiry in France and the exhumation of his body. On November 11, 2014, a Swiss team confirmed that Arafat was poisoned – they had found traces of radioactive isotope polonium – 210 in his exhumed remains, as well as in his shroud and the soil of his grave.
By late June 2013, an irreversible break
had occurred between the two families. They were now in open warfare with each other. Details on this is available on the issue titled :”THE BREAK-UP”.
After years of denials from Israel, Israeli President Shimon Peres has admitted the truth. In an interview given to the New York Times, in early 2014, Peres said Arafat should not have been assassinated and asserted that he had opposed the policy of assassinating him. Peres stated that he had “protected Arafat from several plots against his life.
Arafat kept Gaza together, united. With his death, monthly stipends to the 27 Gaza clan chiefs came to an end. Within a few months tensions rose inside Gaza. The PA was acting as an occupation force against its own people. When elections were held in 2006, Hamas won. And with that, it paved the way for Israel to start destroying Gaza, under the pretext that it was now run by a “terrorist organization”.
These gas reserves are the root cause of every conflict Israel has had with Palestine since 2000. It was at the heart of the last five major Israeli military actions against Palestine, especially Gaza. The actions of the Israeli navy to control Gaza’s coastal waters in the early 2000s; the blockade of the Gaza Strip on June 15, 2007. The attack on Gaza in 2008; again in 2012, and finally in August 2014.
On Christmas day, 2013, Syria announced a deal With Gazprom to explore for oil and gas off its coast, and this — – – “was to be financed by Russia and should oil and gas be discovered, Moscow will recover the exploration costs.” And find gas, they did – – lots of it. The contract will run for 25 years.
Gazprom then signed up a similar deal with the Palestine Authority, during that same time. Putin gave the PA implicit guarantees that the Russian navy would protect their facilities, and very explicitly saying , “ We are going to cut Israel out of it altogether.” This PA-Gazprom deal was the key factor behind Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip in August 2014.
With the Gazprom -Gazan development set to begin in 2014 and thus consolidate the Russian presence in the Levantine Basin, the Israelis once again sought a military solution.
After a year of planning, Operation Protective Edge was launched in June, with two hydrocarbon-related aims : demonstrating to the Russians that Israel would be able and willing to prevent activation of the Gazprom contract ; and to definitely disable the Gazan rocket system that could threaten unilateral Israeli developments.
Israel’s operation was partially successful because it has postponed the Gazprom deal. But Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system remains unable to deter Palestinian rocket attacks with 100% accuracy, which it would have liked to do in order to protect its energy installations in the Mediterranean Sea.
Netanyahu has created a special military force for gas fields protection. The formation includes missile boats, drones, and 4 German-built frigates. This protection force is estimated to cost Israel around $500 m a year, starting in 2016.
Mustafa, a PA official said, “ Palestinians are in a position to prevent Israel from developing that gas, and they cannot be stopped from deterring the development of that gas.” He was talking about platforms that Israel is building when it starts to take over the Gaza Marine field and extract its resources without the consent of the Palestinian government. He added, “ Anybody that builds platforms out there – even those ridiculous improvised tiny little rockets that Hamas can build, even those will destroy that.”
Many people out there ask this question,; Why doesn’t Saudi Arabia and the rich Gulf states help the people of Gaza? And, why is Egypt being so cruel in helping to blockade Gaza? The answer is the media perception firstly, and secondly, the real facts and true story of the events there are kept hidden.
This is the reason : Saudi Arabia and Egypt have jointly agreed that whatever happens, Israel must not be allowed to win in destroying Gaza, and that Hamas must stand firm. The people of Gaza dare not evacuate Gaza as this would give Israel easy access to the gas fields. Once that happens, then the entire region will be in danger of getting taken over. Why? All these past 7 decades of Israel’s existence, it did not have an independent energy source. It had to rely on the Americans for the energy it needed. With its own energy sources, Israel will have the fuel for its military to run rampage across the Middle East, and pose an existential threat not only to the region, but to the entire world. Very few countries want this. Israel has to be DENIED ACCESS to its own energy sources, AT ANY COST!
Thus, the people of Gaza are sacrificing themselves in order that humanity is not enslaved by Israel. More on this subject in forthcoming issues.
To summarize the gas wars to date. Putin succeeded in building Nord Stream.
He got stopped when he tried to create a southern route into Europe via South Stream.
Putin’s third leg, Nigeria to Europe resulted in the chaos that overtook Nigeria, Mali and Libya.
And, finally, Putin’s fourth leg, from the Eastern Mediterranean- from Syria and Gaza- is still on fire.
The fifth leg, Turk Stream, was effectively killed when Turkey shot down a Russian jet on the Turkish Syrian border in November.
This pipeline war between Washington has claimed more than 300,000 lives in the past 5 years. And counting, as of writing. This war is expanding into other geographical areas – the latest being northern Iraq, especially Kurdistan, and western Iraq, in Anbar province.