On Sunday, the Syrian government strongly condemned a recent deal between a US oil company and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that control the country’s northeast. A government source told Syrian state media that the SDF and US effort to “steal” Syrian oil is “null and void” and has no “legal effect.” The source described the deal as an “integrated and aggravated theft.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed rumors of the deal in a Senate hearing on Thursday when asked about it by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Graham said he spoke with an SDF leader about the agreement, and asked Pompeo if the administration was supportive of the deal.
“We are,” Pompeo responded to Graham, “The deal took a little longer … than we had hoped, and now we’re in implementation.” So far, neither US nor Syrian officials have named the company involved in the agreement.
After President Trump announced his plan to withdraw US troops from northeast Syria in October 2019, Senator Graham, along with retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, urged the president to stay and protect the region’s oil fields from falling into the hands of Iran or ISIS. Trump eventually decided to stay in Syria to “secure the oil.”
The Syrian government considers the US presence in the country to be illegal, so naturally, any US extraction of oil in the region will be regarded as theft. Syria is struggling to rebuild after nine years of war, and heavy US sanctions are only making the situation worse, recent measures specifically target construction and energy sectors.