Wednesday, December 4, 2019

General Subterfuge

I've sketched out this story before somewhere, but buried into some other context, and I wanted to try again, because the newspapers aren't going to do it.

Via The Energy Consulting Group, illustrating how "the Turkish invasion, which started across a 300 mile front along Turkey's southeastern frontier with Syria, has been blunted and contained by swapping out US forces with Syrian and Russian forces" leaving the oil and gas fields southwest of the Kurdish-controlled area to be more or less patrolled by US. 
Have to respectfully disagree on this—not denying the importance of fossil fuel interests as a determining element in crazy bad Anglo-American policy from the 1920s in the Middle East to now in Venezuela, but in the current Syria situation it's mostly in Trump's confused head, and refers not to dominating the market but literally the US military "taking the oil" in some unclear way, maybe colonizing the wells one at a time, as Bess Levin wrote in Vanity Fair a year ago in re Iraq:
Donald Trump has long been obsessed with the idea of seizing Iraq’s oil as some kind of reimbursement for the money the U.S. has spent waging war in the Middle East. “I still can’t believe we left Iraq without the oil,” he tweeted in 2013. “It used to be, ‘To the victor belong the spoils,’” he told Matt Lauer during a campaign forum in 2016. “Now, there was no victor there, believe me. There was no victor. But I always said: take the oil.” The notion of looting Iraq’s natural resources—or as Trump explained the process to Lauer, “we would leave a certain group behind and you would take various sections where they have the oil”—was always certifiably crazy. But as with many of the ideas espoused by Trump while he was running for president, few believed he would actually try to make good on the talking point once he moved into the Oval Office. As we now know, that was some deluded wishful thinking by people who were attempting to convince themselves that Trump’s apparent insanity was part of a strategy, and not clear evidence of the real-estate developer’s mental decline.
...His conviction is so strong, in fact, that he made mention of it in March 2017 at the end of a meeting with Iraq’s then-Prime Ninister Haider al-Abadi, casually asking, “So what are we going to do about the oil?” According to sources present at the meeting, al-Abadi replied something along the lines of, “What do you mean?,” at which point Trump busted out his famous logic, telling the P.M., “Well, we did a lot, we did a lot over there, we spent trillions over there, and a lot of people have been talking about the oil.” Al-Abadi, explaining in what we assume was his best talking to a small child or very large idiot voice, reportedly responded, “Well, you know Mr. President, we work very closely with a lot of American companies and American energy companies have interests in our country.”
Which is perfectly true. In the traditional sense, which is certainly what Richard Bruce "Halliburton" Cheney was thinking about in 2001 and 2002,  we've already got "the oil" in Iraq, or some of it. But that doesn't seem to be what Donald had in mind, and he's still pissed off about it. I know a lot of your Greenwaldian commentators think he's a kind of beneficent pacifist, with his opposition to "forever" wars, but what he really thinks is just that you ought to get paid for it: "Saudi Arabia pays cash" for US troops, as he explained, and Iraq should pay petroleum, and shithole countries like Yemen should do without.

Syria's oil and gas reserves are another matter. They're far smaller than those of giants like Iraq and Iran (ranking around no. 30 or 32 in the list of oil countries, between UK, whose reserves are expected to be exhausted by 2023, and Uganda; Iraq at no. 5, by contrast, will still be pumping it out in 2100, and Venezuela and Saudi Arabia in the 24th century), for one thing. They were extremely valuable to the ISIS caliphate, which was making a million dollars a day out of them at peak, selling it mostly to their "enemy" President Bashar al-Assad and smuggling some to Turkey and Jordan, but that declined as coalition forces bombed the infrastructure, and getting oil out of the wells and refining it on the spot became a really primitive operation but the time of Trump's inauguration in January 2017 ("post-apocalyptic hell... out of an early Mad Max movie" wrote my source):

What Trump's current remarks are about is a trick that's been played on him by our military, which was extremely upset by his sudden move to remove US troops from Syria at the beginning of October, and abandon our Kurdish allies to the rage of President Erdoğan and Turkish invasion while providing opportunities for a resurgent ISIS, which is not, contrary to Trump's belief, defeated yet.

The move, which he'd attempted to make for the first time last January, is exactly what you'd expect, because Kurdistan is a shithole country that doesn't even exist, let alone have means of paying, in spite of having fought heroically for years and at great sacrifice for US interests. The generals' subterfuge is to tell him that they've "taken the oil", so he'll let the troops stay, serving as a buffer between the Turks and the Kurds, and it's worked. He isn't asking any questions, they are in fact guarding the oil and gas wells, though not doing anything with them, and everybody's quite a bit happier than they were two months ago, except for Erdoğan, who was in a terrible mood in London yesterday.

And except for those of us who find it depressing to be governed by an Emperor who needs to be cajoled and deceived with his own fairy tales in the hope of talking him out of his obdurate refusal to do the right thing. 

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