Understanding How Natural Gas, Not Oil, Is ‘Fueling’ The Syrian Civil War

The conflict almost exclusively revolves around two natural gas pipelines which have the potential to supply the European Union with 23.3% of all its energy – worth more than 50 billion dollars annually. As it stands today, the main supplier of Europe’s gas is Russia. However, over recent years “Russia’s share of EU-28 imports of natural gas declined from 44.1 % to 29.5 % between 2003 and 2010, but this development was reversed with increases thereafter leading to a share of 39.0 % in 2013.

To meet Europe’s energy demands in the future, two new oil pipelines, yet to be completed, have the potential to deliver natural gas from sources in the Persian Gulf straight to Europe at a fraction of the cost we see today. How this gas gets delivered and whom will control it has become the source of Syria’s Civil War.

Now that you understand the significance, it is time to understand the partners involved. On one side there is Iran, Russia and China, whom have each signed mutual defense pacts with one another. One the other side there is Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The two pipelines in question are known as the “Qatar-Turkey Pipeline” and the “Iran Pipeline.” The Qatar-Turkey lines runs from Qatar, to Saudi Arabia, to Jordan, to Turkey, to Syria and finally dumps in Europe. The Iran line runs from Iran, to Iraq, to Syria before going undersea and dumping in Greece. You might notice how both of these pipelines share only one thing in common, Syria.

Quite simply there you have it, the reason for all the competing interests in the country and the reason why allies of Russia and the US are now fighting against one another in the country.

The proposed gas pipeline from Qatar via Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey to Europe.

Pipeline from Iran via Iraq and Syria to Europe.

The Qatar pipeline, largely supported by Saudi Arabia, was first proposed in 2009. However, after the country approached Bashar al-Assad and asked for permission to run the final leg of the pipeline through his country, Assad refused. At the time, Assad did this “to protect the interests of his Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.

A year later in 2010, Iran, with the full support of Russia, announced plans for a new pipeline of their own and unlike the Qatar pipeline, the Iran pipeline was fully supported by Assad, whom would allow it to run through his country.

A year after this in 2011, the Syrian Civil War broke out and allies of these two countries have been fighting for Syria ever since. Think that is a coincidence?

 The Iran pipeline was expected to be complete by 2016, but because of the subsequent Civil War and movement of rebel troops in the region, progress on the pipeline has crawled to a stand still. Not surprisingly, Saudi Arabia is said to be the primary funder of Syria’s rebel troops, reportely supplying them with $3 billion dollars between 2011 and 2013 alone. The United States, an ally of Saudi Arabia, has also been outspoken in their support for Syrian rebels and have supplied them with weaponry whenever necessary. Russia on the other hand remains firm in their support of Assad and have moved their army into the country to defend his Presidency. Russia has even invited Iranian soldiers onto the battlefield with them.

This is the conflict known as the Syrian Civil War that we are all witness to today. However, considering that this War is funded by numerous outside countries, including Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States, it is almost laughable to call it a “Civil War.” Truth be told, the War in Syria is nothing but a proxy War, only different from Yemen in the fact that is centers around the flow of natural resources into Europe.

Russia/Iran continue to back Assad and Syrian nationalists while the United States/Saudi Arabia continue to back the rebels. Which side becomes victorious and builds their pipeline first will control the flow of natural gas into Europe for decades to come, worth hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars throughout the future.

Though the “fighting” may only be taking place in Syria, the defense pacts between all the nation states involved make this whole affair very dangerous. A direct attack on Iran is considered an attack on Russia and China – vice versa . A direct attack on Saudi Arabia is an attack against the United States – vice versa. None of that is to mention NATO and Turkey, no one is quite sure what is going on with Turkey right now.

This is also why these countries are using Syria and Yemen as pawns to fight proxy Wars against one another, to avoid fighting in Wars directly with one another. But it is a slippery and dangerous slope everyone is walking.  All of these countries are playing dangerous game of poker with one another, all the while hundreds of thousands of innocent people are dying in the process.

All because of societies dependence on fossil fuels and the revenue we can reap it. It is truly the shame of our time…


This article (Understanding Why Natural Gas, Not Oil, Is ‘Fueling’ The Syrian Civil War) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article using a creative commons license with attribution to Brian Dunn and Alternative Medi4



Categories: Syria, War

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