Trump’s Scheme to Take Syrian Oil Draws Rebukes

Professors see major legal challenges to seizing oil

President Trump has indicated that he intends to keep US troops in Syria to maintain military control over oil in the country’s east, and wants a US oil company to take some of that oil while they’re at it.

The scheme is being endorsed by only a handful of officials, like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who argues that it’s common sense to take Syria’s oil. More broadly,  law professors and analysts are rejecting the idea, saying it is “immoral and possibly illegal.

Emory Law professor Laurie Blank says that “international law seeks to protect against exactly this sort of exploitation.” Other analysts said convincing a big US company to operate there would be a “tough sell,” while both Exxon Mobil and Chevron denied all comment on the matter.

Understandably, some countries are also rejecting the idea that the US can just take oil militarily, with Russian officials accusing the US of “international banditry.” Russia is allied with Syria and understandably opposed to Syria losing its oil to an occupying power.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.