Trump Expands War for Syrian Oil, Raising Legal Questions

Troops stuck in complicated operation with details yet to be worked out

Following new meetings with defense leaders last week, President Trump has signaled intentions to expand his new war in Syria, which is a war entirely built around military control of oilfields in Eastern Syria from which he intends to extract oil.

All of this is raising ever-growing legal questions, both about what the legal ramifications of an overt war for oil would be, and about what the military is actually supposed to do in this environment, and against whom.

President Trump has so far side-stepped questions about the legality of taking other countries’ oil by arguing that it’s a lot of money the US could make every month in doing so. As far as military orders, those still haven’t been issued, and moreover officials concede a lot of details are “yet to be worked out.”

Despite lack of clarity on what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and who it’s against, the US troops in Syria are doing something, and Kurdish YPG forces were also reported to have gotten involved, sending some troops of their own to help guard the oil fields.

The Kurds are reportedly helping the US guard the oil from ISIS, and while that’s a pretty straightforward mission for the Kurds, it’s a lot more complicated for the US, with a lot of the people the US is keeping away from the oil having nothing to do with ISIS.

Unspoken is that the US mission is to keep Syria’s oil away from Syria, and experts are being very clear that that notion is very illegal under international law. So far that doesn’t seem to be phasing officials, but anyone participating outside of US command is going to be trying to style this as about ISIS.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.