GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Ozden Zeynep
Title of Paper:
The Undeclared War over Oil, Gas Reserves and the Syrian Crisis
Paper Proposal Text :
There are many reasons for the prolonging war in Syria, however, the most important one among the others is the undeclared war over who will control the region’s gigantic and newly-discovered oil and gas reserves.
In this context, my paper will focus first, on the increasing importance of Syria as a country having access to Eastern Mediterranean where the largest proved reserve of crude oil was discovered. The gas reserves in this underwater Levant Basin are so huge that they would supply all of Europe’s gas demand for 7 years. Syria is also said to have oil shale reserves estimated up to 50 billion tons. Russia’s state-owned energy companies have a huge stake in the Damascus regime’s survival so that they can continue to profit from Syria’s oil and gas reserves. In addition, Russia, having naval base in Tartus, has a big interest in maintaining the status quo with Assad. Israel is another country who has a big stake in stalemate in Syria since warfare situation in Syria facilitates it for Israel to benefit the recent discovery of 36 trillion cubic feet of gas off its coast in the eastern Mediterranean.
In the second part of the paper, the competition over transmission of the abundant natural gas reserves in Persian waters through Syria to the European markets will be analyzed so as to clarify the war by proxy of the global as well as regional powers in Syria. The abundant gas reserves of the two physically close Muslim countries Qatar and Iran whose agendas are quite different, require pipeline transit through Syria and then to Turkey before reaching Europe. However Russia has been highly interested that a competing pipeline not to be built. While Asad refused Qatar’s proposition to build a gas pipeline that would bring Qatari gas through Syria and into Turkey citing Syria’s strong energy relations with Russia, he signed another gas pipeline deal with Iran which aimed the transmission of Iranian gas from its Persian Gulf field through Iraq and Syria in March 2011, a short time before the outburst of the Syrian uprisings.
In the final part of the study, Turkey’s ambivalent energy policies will be dealt with within the context of its interdependent energy relations with Iran and its enthusiasm to act as a Sunni country in the continuing war in Syria and its ambitious energy agenda in Iraqi Kurdistan at the expanse of its relations with the United States and Saudi Arabia. Last but not least, the damage of the AKP’s anti Israeli policies on its energy interests in Eastern Mediterranean will be another concern of the paper.