Israel will play a role in the invasion and occupation of Syria, the Saudis will lead it — with US weapons. And taxpayers everywhere will lose from it.
On 16 April 2018, the internationally respected analyst of Middle-Eastern affairs, Abdel Bari Atwan, headlined about Trump’s increasingly overt plan to break Syria up and to establish permanent US control over the parts it wants, “Attempting the Unachievable”. He stated that “The coming few months are likely to prove very difficult for the Americans and very costly, not just in Syria but also in Iraq.” He closed: “Who will cover the costs of this American move? There are no prizes for guessing the answer: it has already been spelled out.” The only country that his article mentioned was Israel: “It would not be surprising if Israel and the various lobbies that support were behind this American strategic volte-face. For Israel is in a state of panic.”
The US already donates $3.8 billion per year to Israel’s military, in order for Israel to purchase US-made weapons. However, Atwan argues that the costs of this invasion-occupation of Syria are likely to run into the trillions of dollars. The Gross Domestic Product of Israel is only $318.7 billion as of 2016. So, America now already donates a bit more than 1% to that amount, and Atwan’s thesis is that Israel will now become instead a net donor to America’s international corporations (funding some of the Pentagon, which then will pay that money to America’s weapons-firms), in order to avoid adding the enormous costs of this increasing invasion-occupation of Syria, onto America’s taxpayers, fighting forces, etc.
I do not consider this enormous reversal of Israel — from recipient to donor — to be likely. Far likelier, in my view, is Saudi Arabia, to finance the invasion.
The GDP of Saudi Arabia is $646.4 billion as of 2016, more than twice Israel’s — and the Saud family, who own that country, are accustomed to paying for the services they buy, not having them donated (unless by their fellow fundamentalist Sunnis, to spread the faith). Furthermore, the royal family, the Sauds, are extremely close to America’s leading oil families, who also donate heavily to Republican politicians. Ever since at least 2012, the Sauds have been the US Government’s main partner in the long campaign to overthrow and replace Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, by a Sharia-law, fundamentalist-Sunni, regime, which will do what the Sauds want.
America’s oil companies and pipeline companies, and military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, profit from America’s invasion-occupation of Syria, but US President Donald Trump isn’t doing it only with their welfare in mind; he has an international campaign to press America’s allies to foot a larger percentage of the cost to US taxpayers for America’s military.
He wants America’s allies to pay much more, in order for them to be able to enjoy the privileges of staying in America’s alliance against Russia, China, and other countries whose economies threaten to continue growing faster than America’s. US aristocrats fear that such challengers could replace them as the global hegemon or Empire, the über-aristocracy. Empire is expensive, and the general public pay for it, but Trump wants foreign taxpayers to pay a bigger share of these costs in order to relieve part of the burden on US taxpayers. His famous comment about the invasion-occupation of Iraq, “We should have taken the oil”, is now being put into practice by him in Syria. However, that money goes only to corporations, not to the US Treasury.
Which allies could finance escalated war against Syria?
On 24 September 2017, the Wall Street Journal bannered, “US-Backed Forces Seize Syrian Gas Plant From Islamic State”, and reported:
US-backed forces said Sunday they were advancing through eastern Syria after seizing a gas plant there from Islamic State, striking a blow to the terror group’s dwindling finances, which rely heavily on its control of Syria’s oil and gas fields. The plant, one of the most important in the country, is capable of producing nearly 450 tons of gas a day.”
Trump wants the profits from that to go to American companies, not to Syrian ones. That’s the type of arrangement Trump has been favoring when he says “We should have taken the oil.” Syria is allied with Russia, and with Iran, The US is allied with Saudi Arabia and Israel, which are the two countries that call Iran an “existential threat” — and which have been urging a US invasion to overthrow Assad.
The Sauds and their allied fundamentalist Sunni Arab royal families are considering to finance an American-led invasion of Syria. Turkey’s newspaper Yeni Safak headlined on 15 June 2017, “Partitioning 2.5M barrels of Syria’s oil”, and reported:
A meeting was held on June 10 for the future of Syrian oil on the premise of the intelligence of Saudi Arabia and the US in Syria’s northeastern city of Qamishli, which borders with Turkey. One of the US officers who visited terrorist organizations in the Sinjar-Karachok region after Turkey’s anti-terror operation in northern Syria and spokesman for the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh, Colonel John Dorrian, attended the meeting. Representatives from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, as well as some tribal leaders from Syria and senior Democratic Union Party (PYD) members attended the meeting. The delegation gathered for the purpose of determining a common strategy for the future of Syrian oil, and decided to act jointly after Daesh. Former President of the National Coalition of the Syrian Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, Ahmed Carba, determined the tribal and group representatives from Syria, and Mohammed Dahlan determined which foreign representatives would attend the meeting. Representatives agreed on a pipeline route. Radical decisions were made regarding the extraction, processing and marketing of the underground wealth of the Haseke, Raqqah and Deir ez Zor regions, which hold 95 percent of Syrian oil and natural gas’ potential.
That’s “taking the oil.” There could be lots of it.
This article also reported that, “Syria produced 34,828,000 barrels of crude oil in the first quarter of 2011 and reached 387,000 barrels per day during the same period” and that, “there are 2.5 billion barrels of oil reserves in Syria.”
On 16 April 2018, Whitney Webb at Mint Press bannered “How the US Occupied the 30% of Syria Containing Most of its Oil, Water and Gas”, and reported:
Though the US currently has between 2,000 to 4,000 troops stationed in Syria, it announced the training of a 30,000-person-strong ‘border force’ composed of US-allied Kurds and Arabs in the area, which would be used to prevent northeastern Syria from coming under the control of Syria’s legitimate government.”
She noted, regarding the area in Syria’s northeast, where US-armed, Saudi-funded, Syrian Kurds are in control: “those resources – particularly water and the flow of the Euphrates – gives the US a key advantage it could use to destabilize Syria. For example, the US could easily cut off water and electricity to government-held parts of Syria by shutting down or diverting power and water from dams in order to place pressure on the Syrian government and Syrian civilians. Though such actions target civilians and constitute a war crime, the US has used such tactics in Syria before.”
She says: “Given the alliance between Syria and Iran, as well as their mutual defense accord, the occupation is necessary in order to weaken both nations and a key precursor to Trump administration plans to isolate and wage war against Iran.”
That type of plan could be worth a lot to Israel, but Yeni Safak headlined on 18 April 2018, “US to build Arab force in NE Syria as part of new ploy: The US is seeking to amass an Arab force in northeastern Syria comprised of funding and troops from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.” This report said:
The Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that the kingdom is willing to send troops to Syria in a press conference on Tuesday. The minister noted that discussions on sending troops to Syria were underway. “With regards to what is going on now, there are discussions regarding what kind of force needs to remain in eastern Syria and where that force would come from. And those discussions are ongoing,” said al-Jubeir. He stressed that troop deployment in Syria will be done within the framework of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition and also suggested Saudi Arabia would provide financial support to the US.
How likely is it that Israel would be funding this huge escalation in The West’s invasion-occupation of Syria — an escalation in which fundamentalist-Sunni armies would then be serving Israeli masters? Though Arab royals might find it acceptable, their soldiers would not.
The Sauds are the world’s wealthiest family, and they can and do use the state that they own, Saudi Arabia, as their investment asset, which they aim to maximize. This war will be a great investment for them, and for their allies, in US, UK, Israel, and elsewhere. Israel can’t take the lead in such a matter. But the Sauds and their friends could.
Funding by the Sauds would be the likeliest way. On 21 May 2017, I headlined “US $350 Billion Arms-Sale to Sauds Cements US-Jihadist Alliance” and reported that the day before, “US President Donald Trump and the Saud family inked an all-time record-high $350 billion ten-year arms-deal that not only will cement-in the Saud family’s position as the world’s largest foreign purchasers of US-produced weaponry, but will make the Saud family, and America’s ruling families, become, in effect, one aristocracy over both nations, because neither side will be able to violate the will of the other. As the years roll on, their mutual dependency will deepen, each and every year.” That turned out to be true — and not only regarding America’s carrying the Sauds’ water (doing their bidding) in both Yemen and Syria, but in other ways as well. Now the Sauds will pitch in to pay tens of thousands of troops in order to dominate over Iran and Shiites, whom the Sauds hate (and have hated since 1744).
On 21 March 2018, CNBC bannered “Trump wants Saudi Arabia to buy more American-made weapons. Here are the ones the Saudis want”, and reported what Trump had just negotiated with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, which was a step-up in that $350 billion sale, to $400 billion. So: Trump is working on the Sauds in order to get them to take over some of the leadership here — with American weapons. It’s a business-partnership.
On 16 April 2018, which was the same day that Atwan suggested Israel would take the lead here, the Wall Street Journal bannered “US Seeks Arab Force and Funding for Syria: Under plan, troops would replace American military contingent after ISIS defeat and help secure country’s north; proposal faces challenges,” and reported that:
The Trump administration is seeking to assemble an Arab force to replace the US military contingent in Syria and help stabilize the northeastern part of the country after the defeat of Islamic State, US officials said. John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, recently called Abbas Kamel, Egypt’s acting intelligence chief, to see if Cairo would contribute to the effort, officials said. The initiative comes as the administration has asked Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to contribute billions of dollars to help restore northern Syria. It wants Arab nations to send troops as well, officials said.
Israel will participate in this invasion-occupation, but the Sauds will lead it — with US-made weapons. And taxpayers everywhere will lose from it, because invasions just get added to the federal debt. The invading nation goes into debt, which that nation’s public will pay. The invaded nation gets its wealth extracted and sold by the invading aristocracy. It’s happened for thousands of years.
Top Photo | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before the start of their meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 6, 2018. With Netanyahu, are from left, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Sen. Ron Johnson, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Ranking Member, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Eric Zuesse is a writer and investigative historian.