Partitioning Syria: Oil, Gas, And Peace

Authored by James Durso via,

It’s the 101st anniversary of the Sykes–Picot Agreement and, in light of the non-stop Syrian Civil War, it’s time to ask, “How’s that working out for you?”

The Sykes–Picot Agreement formalized the British and French spheres of influence in the Middle East and set the stage for the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon, which ran from 1923 to 1946. In 1936, Ali Sulayman al-Assad, grandfather of Syrian President Bashir Assad, and other Alawite notables petitioned French President Leon Blum, in an attempt to stay under French protection: “The spirit of hatred and intolerance plants its roots in the heart of Muslim Arabs toward everything that is non-Muslim, and is forever fueled by the spirit of the Islamic religion. There is no hope that the situation will change. If the Mandate is canceled, therefore, the minorities in Syria will become exposed to a risk of death and annihilation…”

Al-Assad’s thoughts are timely in light of a proposal by Jamsheed and Carol Choksy of Indiana University for an “impartial partition plan” for Syria. The proposal would complement a cease fire with partition along ethnic lines (with concomitant population transfers) and no role for Russia, Iran, and Turkey who have acted as belligerents. The majority Sunni Arabs would get the provinces in the center and the north, the Kurds would take the northeast, the Alawites and Shiites would keep the Mediterranean coastal provinces, the Christians, Druze, and Jews would share the southwest and south, and the Yezidis would get an enclave on the Syria-Iraq border.

The proposal recognizes that Syria’s many sects were never “bonded together by secularism and tolerance” and that the pitiless fighting since 2011 has only sharpened ethno-sectarianism. Autonomous areas may ensure a measure of security for minority Christians, Jews, Druze, and Yezidis whose cooperation with the Assad regime secured protection, and who will want to escape Sunni retribution.

The international community should seriously consider a proposal for independent ethnic states or autonomous areas and take the opportunity to avoid repeating the sectarian character of Iraq’s constitution which, Iraqis point out, was not drafted by Iraqis. This goes against the grain in the West, which “celebrates diversity” but has been dealing, often unsuccessfully, with strains bought on by uncontrolled immigration from Africa and Latin America.

Four factors will bedevil the negotiators of an ethnic autonomy arrangement: the oil and natural gas in the Levant Basin Province; two competing proposals for natural gas pipelines that cross Syria; Iran’s transport corridor through Syria, which Iran needs to support the Assad regime and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah; and the Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons.

1. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there are potential mean recoverable resources of “1.7 billion barrels of oil and 122 trillion cubic feet of [natural] gas” in the Levant Basin Province, which is offshore Israel, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and Syria. Israel is developing its fields and is becoming an energy exporter. Lebanon likely has a similar bounty and has passed legislation governing oil and gas exploration, but development has stalled as Lebanon and Israel are disputing a 300 square mile area both countries claim for their Exclusive Economic Zones. The gas in Gaza’s waters won’t be safe to develop until the Israelis and Arabs conclude a peace deal and the Palestinians adopt rigorous transparency measures due to the Palestinian Authority’s corruption. Syria has limited oil reserves in eastern Deir ez Zor province which have been productive through the civil war, and both the Assad regime and ISIS have benefitted from smuggling oil to Turkey.


The ethnic states/autonomous areas will likely demand a share of the oil and gas revenue from the fields offshore the two provinces controlled by the Alawites and Shia before they agree to a cease fire and partition. A solution may be to form an operating company with transparency as the foundation of its corporate charter or endow it with a governance structure informed by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.


It will be important to keep track of the money as it will be needed for reconstruction, estimated to cost at least $180 billion. Russia and Iran have enough money to disrupt Syria, but not to rebuild it. The U.S. is focusing on domestic concerns and, if America is out, Europe will never be all-in. Turkey will want a piece of the action, but no one will tether a reconstruction effort to the authoritarian Pasha. The Gulf states have cash but may lack the contract administration skills to oversee rebuilding. China may want to include Syria in the One Belt, One Road transport network, but only if it gets security and natural resource guarantees.


2. Competing natural gas pipelines that cross Syria will be vital. In 2009, Qatar approached Syria about routing its planned 1,500 mile natural gas pipeline to Europe via Syria’s Aleppo province. Qatar wanted a pipeline to Europe as its gas transport modes were limited to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tanker, mostly to Asia with limited spot shipments to Europe, or the Dolphin pipeline to the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Syria refused Qatar’s offer and, in 2011, Syria, Iran, and Iraq agreed to build a pipeline to connect Iran’s South Pars gas field to Europe. The pipeline would run from Assalouyeh, Iran to Europe via Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, with Syria as the center of assembly and production.


The projects are dead, but the obituaries haven’t been published. The physical risk is “at 11” so no lender will touch them, even if a long term purchase contract could be conjured up. The political risk is almost as bad, as pipeline transits would have to be negotiated with sub-national groups and maybe a surviving Syrian government with little remaining institutional capacity. With an abundance of gas discoveries in the region, there are other ways for a natural gas company CEO to get a headache than getting involved in Syria.


But the projects aren’t useless; they have political utility. Their sponsors – Iran and Qatar – can manipulate the fighting and keep the politicians’ and warlords’ dreams of transit fees alive by saying “when the time is right”.


3. Iran’s Syrian corridor. Iran built a corridor through Syria to support the Assad regime and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah. The route originally skirted the Syria-Turkey border before turning south to Homs and Latakia. In response to the U.S. troop build-up in the northeast, Iran shifted the route 140 miles south, mostly though Homs and Deir ez Zor provinces, which will be Sunni-controlled in the mooted partition.


Under partition the loss of the corridor through Sunni territory would be a strategic setback for Tehran as it would have to rely on ocean shipments, many of which have been intercepted, and air shipments, which are expensive and limit the size of the cargo. In addition, increased use of Iran’s airlines to support Assad and Hezbollah will expose them to increased Western sanctions – and may cripple the deals with Boeing and Airbus - at a time when Iran is trying to integrate with the world economy. This will cause tensions between the siloviki and the economic reformers which may dilute Iran’s expansionist efforts, to the benefit of Iran’s neighbors, and the victims of Assad and Hezbollah.


4. The last issue, and one that may swamp the others, is Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). There are almost five million registered Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. Turkey has the largest contingent of refugees, almost three million, but also has the most developed economy and capacity to host them - for now. Jordan hosts over 650,000 Syrian refugees, and Lebanon hosts over 1 million, over twenty percent of the native population of 4.5 million. Iraq hosts over 200,000 refugees, all in areas controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government. There are six million IDPs, many caused by combat operations. Increased military activity by the U.S. and alleged forced displacement of civilians by U.S. proxies may be sowing the seeds of future trouble.


Jordan and Lebanon are least financially able to indefinitely host the refugees, and they have the most precarious ethnic balancing acts and lack the money to paper over the differences, so the priority should be repatriating the Syrians in Jordan and Lebanon. But repatriate them to where? The only lure may be a share of the oil and gas revenue allocated to the independent ethnic states or autonomous areas. Given that, Lebanon and Jordan won’t be interested in delays or excuses.

The above list isn’t all inclusive. Other potential troubles are:

- The status of the Golan Heights. If Syria goes away, will Israel annex the Golan and just get it over with?

- Absorption of the ethnic states/autonomous areas by neighboring states. Turkey won’t like a semi-autonomous Syrian Kurdish province; it might like a larger Iraqi Kurdistan even less. And in Iraq, will a larger Iraqi Kurdistan cause the Kurds to demand a greater share of oil and seats in the Council of Representatives?

- Russia playing the spoiler. Russia will make things difficult, on the ground and in the UN Security Council, unless it secures naval and air bases in the “Alawite entity” and its national champions Gazprom and Rosneft participate in the development of the Levant Basin. Both firms, however, are under Crimea-related sanctions so they may be weak players.

The word “unprecedented” has been thrown around a lot in regards to Syria. It may be time to apply that thinking to Syria’s partition. The default setting for the international community will be to try to patch the old Syria back together within the internationally recognized borders, but that is make-work for bureaucrats, the aid agencies and their contractors. The impartial partition plan for Syria will give each ethnic or sectarian group territory under its own control.

Should Syria be patched back together? Maybe, but that’s a question for the Syrians and the answer won’t be rendered in this political cycle. Reconstruction after America’s Civil War took 12 years, from 1865 to 1877, and that was for a fight between people of the same ethnic group and religion that weren’t determined to exterminate each other. In Syria, the final decision on unity will be made by the grandchildren.


Mr. Kwikky takeaction Wed, 06/07/2017 - 02:07 Permalink

The tribe loves to slice up pizza's and the divided states of America is already deteriorating if you look to California under the rule of a certain tribe member.


BTW: A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (commonly known as the "Clean Break" report) is a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then Prime Minister of Israel.[1] The report explained a new approach to solving Israel's security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on "Western values." It has since been criticized for advocating an aggressive new policy including the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and the containment of Syria by engaging in proxy warfare and highlighting its possession of "weapons of mass destruction".

In reply to by takeaction

InsaneBane Barry Madingo-Odongo Wed, 06/07/2017 - 02:20 Permalink

When do the trials begin?:

Treason, Betrayal and Deceit: 9/11 and Beyond

By Dr. Alan Sabrosky (Army War College).

September 10, 2009 "Information Clearing House' -- The attacks on September 11, 2001 have been a defining moment for America. The political and psychological impact on Americans of a concerted and visible attack in America was enormous -- indeed, it is an interesting "coincidence" that the attacks occurred on the one day of the year whose mention reinforces a public sense here of danger and emergency: 9-1-1.

A significant development in the 1990s was the formation of the neo-conservative think tank known as PNAC (Project for a New American Century), whose members prepared position papers for the Israeli government and for a future US Administration sharing their views. That happened in 2000 with the election of George W. Bush, and a contemporary writer summarized the tip of the neo-conservative iceberg in his first Administration this way:

The "outsiders" from PNAC were now powerful "insiders," placed in important positions from which they could exert maximum pressure on US policy…PNAC had a lock on military policy-creation in the Bush Administration.

Especially significant in terms of subsequent events was the acknowledgement in one of PNAC's own documents that their program for America (and Israel) would not readily be accepted by the American people. What this meant, PNAC opined in 2000, was that "the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor."

In reply to by Barry Madingo-Odongo

Creative_Destruct Erek Wed, 06/07/2017 - 04:46 Permalink

“The spirit of hatred and intolerance plants its roots in the heart of Muslim Arabs toward everything that is non-Muslim, and is forever fueled by the spirit of the Islamic religion. There is no hope that the situation will change. If the Mandate is canceled, therefore, the minorities in Syria will become exposed to a risk of death and annihilation…”They know their own  people well. And the Western SJW spreaders of the "Islamophbia" meme ignore this reality.But the mandate for external rule only temporarily suppressed and bottled-up up these culturally and religiously ingrained hatreds and desires for revenge and vendetta. 

In reply to by Erek

HowdyDoody Déjà view Wed, 06/07/2017 - 16:45 Permalink

That 'map' of Syria is seriously out of date.

Aleppo governate is now totally free of ISIS. The SAA is almost on the Kurds west of Raqqa. The 'militant' areas of Idlib and Daraya have been halved in size. Most of the 'contested' areas and more adjacent are now in SAA hands. Other than Raqqa and parts of Deir ez Zor, ISIS is effectively confined to desert Syria. The SAA is in the process of splitting the remaining Daraya group in two via al Tanf, which is why the US is panicking.…

In reply to by Déjà view

Lost in translation Wed, 06/07/2017 - 01:57 Permalink

Today, western leaders [sic] rub their grubby little rat-claws together as they drool over a newly-minted map of the future, partitioned Syria. No doubt they'll add this one to the one they drew up for a partitioned future Iraq, a partitioned Libya, and an already cut-up Serbia/Yugoslavia.

Meanwhile, the American people are none the wiser, living in abject ignorance of it all.

But one day, it will be the USA's turn to go under the globalist blade. America, too, will be cut up into smaller and more easily controlled nation-states. The US is not exempt from permanently partition and in due season, it will be so.

Sleep on, US Citizen, but it's all just a matter of time...

Horse Pizzle Wed, 06/07/2017 - 01:58 Permalink

Clue:  Independent Kurdistan extends continuously from Iran to the Mediterranean port.  Kurdistan is 1/3 of current Turkey.  Who says? Trump says he is supplying heavy weapons to Kurds.

Blankone Wed, 06/07/2017 - 02:11 Permalink

Today the US once again attacked/bombed a convoy of Syrian troops while they were in one of the "no-fly zones" that Putin negotiated (gave) away to Assad expense.

Here is how it now works. If Syrian troops are in a no-fly/deescalation zone and get within 50 miles of the US backed proxy (that the US is openly training) they get bombed. If Syria flies their jets into such a zone they get shot down. This now seems to be policy. Thanks a lot Putin.

The US will simply expand these zones, without Syrian/Russian agreement, and continue take territory.

sinbad2 Blankone Wed, 06/07/2017 - 02:59 Permalink

Russia isn't fighting for Syria, it's fighting for Russia.The Russia/China plan is to get America to fight on as many fronts as possible, and spend as much money as possible.At the same time, stopping the US pipeline through Syria will prevent the US earning future income via gas salesThe US is broke, and its credit card is nearing the limit, by tempting the US into many wars, Russia is hastening the collapse of the USA.Once the US is out of the way, international law will once again prevail, and the Americans and their various terrorist armies will leave Syria

In reply to by Blankone

Yuri Bezmenov sinbad2 Wed, 06/07/2017 - 03:18 Permalink

You forget the technology transfer from the US via Israel to Russia

Remember Snowden:
Talpiot program and kill switches: "Unit 8200 (Hebrew: ????? 8200??, Yehida Shmoneh-Matayim) is an Israeli Intelligence Corps unit responsible for collecting signal intelligence (SIGINT) and code decryption. It also appears in military publications as the Central Collection Unit of the Intelligence Corps and is sometimes referred to as Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU)."

Israel's Edge: The Story of The IDF's Most Elite Unit - Talpiot Paperback – February 15, 2016
by Jason Gewirtz

Israel's Edge contains dozens of interviews with Talpiot graduates and some of the early founders of the program. It explains Talpiot's highly successful recruiting methods and discloses many of the secrets of the program's success. The book also profiles some of the most successful businesses founded by Talpiot graduates including CheckPoint, Compugen, Anobit, recently bought by Apple, and XIV, recently bought by IBM

In reply to by sinbad2

Shemp 4 Victory Blankone Wed, 06/07/2017 - 07:27 Permalink


Today the US once again attacked/bombed a convoy of Syrian troops


while they were in one of the "no-fly zones"

Factually wrong. The "deconfliction zone" claimed by the US is their own invention. It does not coincide with any of the four zones established at the talks in Astana and guaranteed by Russia, Iran, and Turkey.

that Putin negotiated (gave) away to Assad expense.

How many times per shift you need to mention the word "Putin"?

In reply to by Blankone

Blankone Shemp 4 Victory Wed, 06/07/2017 - 09:32 Permalink

So the US has already moved forward from Putin's no-fly zones and is taking Syrian territory by declaring areas of Syria as no-go areas for Syria troops. Syrian troops who venture into those areas are killed by US fighter jets. And where is the mighty Putin's protective umbrella, where are his S400's, his jets, Where are Putin's balls?

Is it really going to be that easy? Simply declare no-go zones, kill Syrian forces who venture into them and fill them with the US proxy forces - then expand.

In reply to by Shemp 4 Victory

man of Wool Wed, 06/07/2017 - 02:53 Permalink

Interesting that on the map there is an ISIS controlled area attached to the Golan heights or israel's border.This must be how Israel and America "support and supply" ISIS. Why have ISIS not been attacked by Israel or visa versa?ZH need to send a brave soul to israel to go and investigate. "The truth is out there".

Yuri Bezmenov man of Wool Wed, 06/07/2017 - 03:07 Permalink

The genie is already out of the bottle...:

The Usual Suspects

Genie Oil and Gas (GOGAS) explore conventional oil in the Golan Heights through Afek Oil and Gas, and is or has been involved in the oil shale projects through American Shale Oil (AMSO), Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI) and Genie Energy Mongolia. 89% of GOGAS is owned by Genie Energy while Jacob Rothschild, Michael Steinhardt and Rupert Murdoch among others hold minority interests.[

Genie Energy Ltd. is an American energy company headquartered in Newark, New Jersey. It is a holding company comprising Genie Retail Energy, a retail energy provider in the United States, and Genie Oil and Gas, which develops conventional oil and oil shale projects in the United States, Mongolia, Israel.

Genie's founder, chairman, controlling shareholder and CEO is Howard Jonas. Avi Goldin serves as the company's CFO and Geoffrey Rochwarger serves as Vice Chairman. The president of its Israeli subsidiary is Effie Eitam. Genie Energy's Strategic advisory board is composed of: Dick Cheney (former vice president of the United States), Rupert Murdoch (media mogul and chairman of News Corp), James Woolsey (former CIA director), Larry Summers (former head of the US Treasury), and Bill Richardson, former Governor of New Mexico, an ex-ambassador to the United Nations and United States Energy Secretary.[2]

Genie previously announced a strategic advisory board whose members provide strategic direction and council. Its members include former Vice President Dick Cheney, Michael Steinhardt, Jacob Rothschild, Rupert Murdoch,[3] R. James Woolsey, Jr., Lawrence Summers and Bill Richardson

Afek Oil and Gas

In February 2013, Israeli authorities awarded Afek Oil and Gas an exclusive 36-month petroleum exploration license to a 153-square-mile (400 km2) plot in the Golan Heights, which the UN recognizes to be Syrian territory.[10][11][12][13] Afek subsequently conducted above-ground geophysical tests and based on its preliminary analysis, has applied for a ten well exploratory drilling program.[14] South of Katzrin in the southern Golan Heights in 2015, Afek discovered a substantial amount of oil and natural gas reserves.[15][16][17][a] The company drilled three exploratory wells: in May, Ness-5, just northwest of the Avnei Eitan and Nov moshavim and south of Kibbutz Natur and the town of Katzrin; in July, Ness-3, near the Bnei Yehuda industrial area; and, in September, Ness-6, located near the entrance of Moshav Kanaf, just southeast of Gamla.[18] As of October 2015, an estimate of the volume of resources and to what extent they may be extractable is unknown.[19]

Human rights groups have said the drilling violates international law as Golan Heights is an occupied territory.

Genel Energy
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Genel Energy
Traded as LSE: GENL
Industry Oil and gas industry
Predecessor Genel Enerji
Founded 2011
Headquarters London
Area served
Iraqi Kurdistan
Key people

Tony Hayward (Chairman)
Murat Özgül (CEO)[1]


Genel Energy plc is an oil company with a registered office in Jersey and field office in Turkey. The company is listed at the London Stock Exchange. It has its exploration and production operations in Iraqi Kurdistan with plans to expand its activities into other Middle East and North African countries.[2] The company owns rights in six production sharing contracts, including interests in the Taq Taq, Tawke, and Chia Surkh fields.[3]

Genel Energy was created in 2011 as a result of the reverse acquisition of Turkish Genel Enerji by Tony Hayward led investment company Vallares.[2] Vallares was set up by Tony Hayward, financier Nat Rothschild and banker Julian Metherell.[2] Genel Enerji was controlled by Mehmet Emin Karamehmet through Çukurova Group (56%) and Mehmet Sepil's family (44%). In 2009, Genel Enerji planned to merge with Heritage Oil; the deal subsequently collapsed.

In reply to by man of Wool

Grandad Grumps Wed, 06/07/2017 - 03:18 Permalink

Wow how stupid!

How can the Assad regime benefit from smuggling when it is the rightful government of Syria? Isn't smuggling the result of illegal resource transport? So ISIS is smuggling, but Assad is exporting.

By all accounts Syria was a peaceful and modern country until the Saus, Israelis an d US government decided to depose Assad. There was no religious persecution.

smacker Wed, 06/07/2017 - 03:47 Permalink

Any partitioning of Syria needs to include a plan to deal with ISIS which from the map above clearly still controls a large land mass. But ISIS is not one of the Syrian ethnic groups mentioned, so it would still have to be dealt with violently and totally expunged. The US would have to withdraw from Syria and cease funding it.Apart from that, v/recent events involving Qatar initially suggest that it may now be rethinking its plan for a Qatar gas pipeline across Syria. If true, one major reason for the civil war goes away and the issue would then become of how to eliminate ISIS and return Syria to some sort of normality as a unified country.I think before anybody talks about partitioning, ISIS must be obliterated and Western powers (read: Washingtown, CIA, UK, MI6, France et al) then need to withdraw. 

Fireman smacker Wed, 06/07/2017 - 03:57 Permalink

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"Well, it ain’t Iran’s truly honest elections which swayed the Amir of Qatar, Tameem bin Hamad `Aali Thaani, to switch loyalties to Iran.  And, it wasn’t anything to do with the largest American military base in the region at Al-‘Udayd.  In fact, the switch to Iran while hosting the U.S. would seem an unlikely coupling.  But, not if you are a mini-state on the verge of self-destruction through a disadvantaged economic position. You see, folks, once the natural gas pipeline is completed from Iran, across Iraq, to Syria’s coast, Qatari gas will be so expensive that the country will float on its cash reserves for a couple of years and then, implode.  No more Qatar. Hmmmm.  The Iranians thought.  What if we let the Qataris in on the deal?  What if we share the natural gas pipeline?  What if we can drive a wedge between Qatar and the rest of the Arabian trash on the Gulf?  Wouldn’t that be British of us?"

In reply to by smacker

smacker Fireman Wed, 06/07/2017 - 04:38 Permalink

Yeah, I don't disagree with any of that. It suggests that Qatar and Iran are closing the gap between themselves and ringing alarm bells down the Gulf.As I alluded to, this suggests that one of the major reasons for the Syrian civil war goes away and Qatar's funding of it will evaporate. More alarm bells ringing down the Gulf.Qatar's big problem is that Saudi & Co may decide to actually invade Qatar and wipe out the al Thani ruling family. The US Centcom will stock up on popcorn and sit there watching.

In reply to by Fireman

HowdyDoody smacker Wed, 06/07/2017 - 16:53 Permalink

"Any partitioning of Syria needs to include a plan to deal with" ...

The fact that Russia has stated that Syria's national integrity is sacrosanct and that its future is for the Syran people to decide.

The Kurds are 8% of Syria's population and they are trying to claim 33% of the land. They will need good luck defending that when they are outnumbered 10:1. The Kurds have also aligned with the FSA (the carefully vetted moderate head-chopping rebels) and some ex-ISIS factions (those that swapped black and white on their flags). Not a good move. But then again the Kurds always have been dumb.

In reply to by smacker

hooligan2009 Wed, 06/07/2017 - 05:50 Permalink

iintersting - who are these people that beleive in breaking up the US, the UK, Spain, Belgium, Syria, Iraq et al. could it be that they all need to sit down and drink a huge cup of STFUi am betting that none have shed any blood in defence of their own homes ad families - or witnessed the mass slaughter of theres - agents instigateurs, not provocteursi am sure they enjoy there cokctail parties and superior conversations

pocomotion Wed, 06/07/2017 - 07:40 Permalink

There will be no trials, nobody held accountable.  This shit show, including the formation of the NWO, is out of our hands.  Our children and their offspring will kneel to the beast or swim with the fishes.