Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Syria: The New Great Game for Gas.

'US defense secretary Chuck Hagel says US forces are now ready to act on any order by President Barack Obama to strike Syria. The US navy has four destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean sea within range of targets inside Syria. The US also has warplanes in the region'.
It seems that the point of no return has been reached with the prospect of cruise missile strikes against the Syrian government being launched. The propaganda machine is in full spin, the media is focusing on the 'implementation' of a military attack that has been

This is despite the work of the UN inspectors in trying to find solid evidence chemical weapon use and this concern has been eclipsed. The YouTube clips and instantaneous images from social media sites of dying children believed to be casualties of a 'heinous' attack by 'the 'Assad regime' are a propaganda coup.

There are token nods towards the UN inspectors finding the facts first but the momentum towards military action is in full swing in order to maintain Western 'credibility', the same position held by Madelaine Albright with regards the 78 day bombardment of Serbia during the Kosovo Conflict in 1999.

But Syria is not Kosovo and the potential for the conflict to spin out of control as the result of military action far greater. The aim of the West has been 'regime change' from the outset of the civil war. Iran was not engaged with diplomatically and Assad's removal the precondition for negotiations.

Regime change is about the geopolitics and the control of energy supplies. Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia other Wahhabi Islamist militias to remove Assad because he signed a deal to construct a rival gas pipeline from Iranian sector of the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf.

The New Great Game for gas is a vital interest for the West which has become increasingly dependent upon LNG from Egypt and Qatar in the last decade, not least Britain whose North Sea gas reserves have depleted at an alarming rate since 1999. The EU consumes 25% of the world's gas. It produces 2%.

Iran is warning the West about its attack on the Syrian state because this geopolitical gas export route through Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean is another way to assert its standing as a global player with whom the West would need to negotiate rather than threaten with violence.

With gas export routes to the east through the Iran-Pakistan pipeline blocked off by Western manoeuvres to keep Pakistan onside ready for the construction of the Trans-Afghan pipeline-the central war aim in Afghanistan-Iran will be bound to try and back Hizbollah in Syria all the more as it becomes encircled.

If US missile strikes from its warships in the Mediterranean cause damage to Assad's regime without defeating it it can only put the backers of Syria's proxy armies further at odds in a way that could create the potential for all out regional conflict with lethal global ramifications.

For Russia has vital interests in backing Assad because a huge new gas field was discovered in April 2011 by the Syrians near the border with Lebanon and Tartus-the home of the Russian Mediterranean naval base and a potential export base of gas to the EU. Russia's Gazprom is also interested in gas deposits off Cyprus.

Unilateral US missile attacks, aided by willing European states increasingly desperate to be independent of Russian gas, is bound to be responded to by Russia should it lead to the real prospect of the Assad government collapsing because it could destabilise Chechnya. 

The decision to threaten missile strikes as a substitute for diplomacy or as an attempt to force the Assad government to step down could literally backfire if it fails to achieve that ( which is likely ) but only steps up the regional instability that could create an even worse situation to deal with in future.

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