Monday, October 28, 2019

Blood for oil

While announcing that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed Trump made explicit the longstanding U.S. military policy of securing oil reserves in the Middle East.

Trump told reporters in his Sunday press conference that the U.S. is entitled to Syria's oil following the withdrawal of troops from the northeastern region of the country bordering Turkey. The president pulled soldiers out of the area earlier this month, while deploying troops to other parts of the country to protect oil fields.

"The oil is, you know, so valuable," Trump told reporters Sunday. "It can help us, because we should be able to take some also. And what I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly...and spread out the wealth."

Republican senator, 
Sen. Lindsey Graham, when asked by reporters whether the U.S. has any "legal right in international law" to take Syria's relatively small oil supply, said, "We can also use some of the revenues from future oil sales to pay for our military commitment in Syria"—parroting Trump's stated belief that "the spoils" of war should go to so-called "victors."

"Where Lindsey and I totally agree is the oil," Trump told the press on Sunday.

Just to be clear: despite Trump's statements, oil in Syria does not belong to the United States or to Donald Trump. Commandeering those oil wells, as Trump seems to be suggesting, would be a violation of international law and could amount to a war crime.

"International law seeks to protect against exactly this sort of exploitation," Emory University professor Laurie Blank told Reuters Sunday.

We are all too familiar with the perennial U.S. quest for oil reserves. It's why U.S. tanks  rolled into Iraq in 2003.

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