Could the American-Kurdish oil deal bring stability to the region?
The United States Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control has approved the first-ever deal for an American firm to develop oil fields and export crude oil in northeast Syria. The contract has been signed between a little-known American firm, Delta Crescent Energy, and the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as a most reliable U.S. partner in the battle against the so-called Islamic State.
During a news conference at the State Department in Washington, August 5, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who was asked by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, has said that the US has approved the oil deal to modernise the oil fields in northeast Syria. After a part of American troops has been withdrawn from northeast Syria that control by Kurdish forces in October 2019, US President Donald Trump has declared that he will keep its troop to secure the oil fields.
By giving this exceptional approval to the Delta Crescent Energy, the US purpose is to secure the oil fields first and then to isolate the Assad regime and to cut him out of benefiting from legal energy production in the northeast Syria. Moreover, this license will allow also the American company to work freely in Syria as the Treasury Department has exempting the Delta Crescent Energy from the Caesar sanctions against Assad's regime.
Arguably, the American deal has angered Russian as the main competitor to win the oil deal in the areas led by Kurdish forces. Moscow has criticized the US deal and described the deal as an American attempt that continues to "plunder Syria's natural resources". Meanwhile, the Syrian government has described as the deal as the US means to steal Syria's oil and the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mualim has said "the agreement is null and void and has no legal basis". Turkey, which stands always against Kurdish rights and ambition, has also criticised the deal as breaking the international law and "violating territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of Syria". Whereas, Iran as the other Russia and Turkey's ally in Astana Agreement, has declared that the deal is "a violation of Syrian sovereignty”.
In contrast to the Russian and Assad's regime reactions, the US company's shared founders had confirmed the goal of the that will focus on developing and upgrading about 60% of the Syrian oil fields that now under the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Added to that the Delta Crescent Energy procedure will engage in several aspects of energy development, transportation, marketing, refining, and exploration in order to develop and redevelop the infrastructure in the region and to help the people in the region get their products into the international market. This upcoming plan has been confirmed by the founders of the American company as well.
Consequently, the American investment in oil fields in northeast Syria, definitely, will be a great opportunity to stabilise the region and bringing economic and political security to the northeast Syrian components, that can improve the people’s live. Furthermore, the Syrian Kurds with the other components in the region that led by the Kurdish administration such as Syriac and Arab, are welcoming the oil deal because for the decades the Kurdish region has been suffered from the Assad's regime marginalised policies.
Even before the Syrian conflict, nobody of the Syrian people has benefited from the oil production, which was around 400,000 barrels of oil per day, for more than five decades. Whereas the whole budget that comes from the oil production was transferred to the Assad's family account directly, and Syrian people were not allowed even to ask about it. Otherwise, they will be under the risk of arrest or vanishing.
As a result, by having the US oil companies involved in developing the oil fields in Syria will be a great factor for stability of the region and will strengthen the American relation with its main ally the Kurds, and can prevent any Turkish attacks or intervention again as had happened in October 2019 after the US withdraw part of its troops from Syria.