Turkey’s Ambitions in Exceeding Exploitation of Syrian Oil, Kurds Distrust Russia

Al-Monitor media has issued a report titled: “Turkey appears to want more than Syria’s oil”, refering that the Syrian Kurds are much concerned concerning Turkish plans exceeding its influence in the region and not only acquiring oil fields.

According to the report, Ankara’s strategic goal is to completely eliminate the autonomously administered area of northeast Syria.

The report indicated that on March 27, media reports circulated about new understandings expected to be reached soon between the autonomous administration and Damascus, brokered by Russia. On March 25, Russian officials met with SDF commander Muslim Kobane in Qamishli for that purpose, according to the reports.

Relatedly, the author and journalist Naline Boutan clarified to Al-Monitor that “the initiative is not new, but Kurds don’t trust the Russian side or the Syrian regime. Russia has proposed similar initiatives in the past. On Feb. 3 and 4, a delegation from the autonomous administration … met with the Russian ministers of defense and foreign affairs at Khmeimim air base in Latakia.”

“The delegation and ministers then headed to Damascus, where they met with the head of the Syrian National Security Bureau. At that time, the Russians promised the Kurds to offer support and guarantees for a comprehensive deal between the autonomous administration and Damascus. But this didn’t happen and after the meeting, the Syrian President denied the Kurds’ historical presence and cause in Syria, in statements, that drew sharp criticism on social media. Thus, Kurds trust neither the Russian side nor the Damascus government,” Boutan added.

Regarding the SDF’s relations with Moscow and Washington, another political analyst said: “There are no reliable guarantees from the Russian or US sides. We had our share of bitter experiences with them, where Russians played a dangerous role in allowing Turkey to occupy Afrin two years ago, while the US had an ambiguous position that led to the occupation of Ras al-Ain and Tell Abyad and the rest of the villages and towns that were previously occupied by ISIS and were later liberated by the SDF.”

“The SDF made great sacrifices during the battles to liberate those areas, but today they are occupied by Turkey and the Syrian armed groups affiliated with it,” he continued.

On March 5, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that 6,000 fighters from the Syrian factions close to Ankara were deployed in the areas around Tell Abyad.

Sarheldan Kobani, an SDF fighter from Kobani, told Al-Monitor by phone that Turkey sometimes recruits armed militants from the Syrian opposition factions to launch attacks against that area.

Kobani expects that Turkey might launch a military operation against any or all of the cities and towns on the Syrian-Turkish border strip to reach to the oil fields of Raqqa and Deir Ezzor.

But he stressed that the SDF forces are always ready to protect the cities of Rojava from any Turkish offensive aiming to occupying Kobani, Manbij, Tal Rifaat, and areas east of the Euphrates.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said that he proposed a joint management of the oil fields in Deir Ezzor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting that Putin would be evaluating the proposal. Erdogan told reporters that he made a similar request to US President Donald Trump.

Abu Omar al-Idlibi, commander of the Northern Democratic Brigade, said to Al-Monitor that Turkey has its eyes set on Syrian oil and gas, including in Deir Ezzor, which has one of the largest Syrian oil fields.

“Turkey is seeking to nibble more Syrian lands under the pretext of protecting its national security. The Turkish government seeks to obtain the energy resources it previously received from ISIS. Ankara lost those supplies when the SDF eliminated ISIS,” he said.

Talking about the Astana and Sochi summits, al-Idlibi said: “The conferences aimed to conclude and implement deals between Moscow and Ankara, where Russia wants complete military power for the Syrian regime over Idlib and over the entire Syrian territories. This goes against UN resolutions related to the Syrian crisis, most notably Resolution 2254 providing for a comprehensive, complete and just political solution for all Syrians.

“This resolution is a priority for us, and Turkey exploited this as a golden opportunity to nibble and annex new regions in northern Syria, invoking its national security. This time, Turkey plans to seize Syrian oil through a deal with Russia,” he concluded.

All publishing rights and copyrights reserved to MENA Research and Study Center