The United States is adjusting its own policy in Syria to reflect current realities amid sharp criticism from Russia, with the State Department calling for the withdrawal of Iranian and Iranian-backed forces from the Arab republic, but not the removal of Russian troops from the SAR. With President Donald Trump recently calling the U.S. mission in Syria now “exceptionally oil-related,” forces hostile to Washington in the Middle East and abroad have accused the White House of “stealing” Syrian oil and the opacity of its goals in the nearly decade-long conflict in the ATS. This is written by the American magazine Newsweek.
Although Trump has admitted to “switching the focus” of the United States from the fight against the terrorist group Daesh (Islamic State, IS, ISIL, is banned in Russia) to Syrian oil, whose defense in the east of the country is entrusted to the Arab-Kurdish alliance “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF), officials in Washington as if nothing has said that his plan was “consistent.” The U.S. State Department also says that nothing has changed in U.S. policy on the Syrian track. But this “consistency” in the foreign ministry is given a different shade, namely, anti-Iranian.
“We have made our common political goals very clear in Syria,” a State Department official told Newsweek. “The United States’ political objectives on Syria have been consistent and remain unchanged. This is a long-term defeat of ISIL and al-Qaeda (Russia’s banned terrorist organization. – Ed.), an irreversible political solution to the Syrian conflict in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the elimination of all Iranian-backed forces.”
“These three comprehensive goals are interconnected because they are all necessary to achieve sustainable peace for the Syrian people,” the State Department added.
Meanwhile, Moscow’s reaction shows that it did not appreciate Washington’s “consent” to “see the Russians in Syria” in the future, Newsweek notes. In a joint statement this week, Russia and Syria condemned the “illegal presence of the United States and its allies in the territories of a sovereign Syrian state.” The recent granting of a license by the US authorities to one of the American oil companies for oil production in Syria was also condemned.
The U.S. is trying to give the “oil mission” launched in Syria a new coalition character, inducing to participate in it not only local forces in the face of the SDF but also allied Arab countries. Saudi Arabia has deployed about two dozen of its troops to a U.S. military base in Syria’s oil-rich northeastern province of Hasakeh, the pan-Arab Al-Mayadeen TV channel (headquartered in Beirut) reported August 28. Some 20 Saudi-led military personnel, led by an officer named Saud al-Jogaifi, were said to have arrived at the US base in al-Shaddadi. According to the Al-Mayadeen source, the Saudi contingent was deployed as part of an American convoy from the Taji camp, 20 kilometers north of Baghdad.
As recently as December last year, informed local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Arab service of the Turkish state news agency Anadolu that dozens of Saudi soldiers had arrived at Syria’s largest oil field, Al-Omar, in Deir Ezzor province by helicopter. At the time, it was pointed out that the Military of the Arab Monarchy was supposed to protect Saudi and Egyptian experts who had appeared in the Syrian oil region a week earlier and were supposedly hired to work for the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco. The dispatch of Saudi troops to the Al-Omar area coincided with the arrival of some 30 trucks with excavation and drilling equipment.
The United States should immediately end the occupation of oil facilities in northeastern Syria, Vasily Nebenzia, Russia’s permanent representative to the world body, said at a meeting of the UN Security Council on July 23. “We reiterate our call on the United States to immediately end the occupation of the Syrian Arab Republic and return its natural resources to a government that can protect the environment,” he said. The Russian diplomat also drew attention to reports in Western media that “barbaric methods of U.S. oil production could lead to an environmental disaster in northeastern Syria and Iraq.” “Syria loses up to $40 million monthly due to lack of access to its oil fields. Returning them to the Syrian government would be better for the U.S. than the donor contribution announced at the conference in Brussels,” Nebenzia said.
Recall, the U.S. earlier began to form a special unit in Syria to protect oil fields in areas east of the Euphrates River. According to local sources, the special forces involved ethnic Arabs from among the fighters of the “Syrian Democratic Forces”, the backbone of which is formed by the Kurdish “YPG”. The task of the “special unit” is to counter the likely attacks of pro-Iranian fighters stationed in Deir Ezzor province, supporting the government forces of Bashar al-Assad.