WSJ: Syrian Kurds Sell Oil to Government in Damascus
Syrian Kurds seal deal with Damascus to fend off Turkey | DW News
Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes talks on Kurdish autonomy in Syria continue.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the US-allied Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are selling oil from fields in eastern Syria they control, despite US economic sanctions. The Syrian government and Kurds are discussing with Damascus possible conditions for autonomy in light of the expected withdrawal of American troops from the northern part of the country in April, and, according to Arab media, the fate of oil resources is one of the main topics of negotiations..
Arab media reports that a delegation of the Syrian Democratic Forces and representatives of the Syrian government, including intelligence chief Ali Mamluk, have been negotiating autonomy since mid-January, which are taking place in Damascus and at the Russian Khmeimim airbase in Latakia..
The Syrian government is reportedly discussing control over the oil fields in the north-east of the country, which are under the control of the Kurds, as well as the demands of the Kurds to continue the educational program in Kurdish, with which Damascus does not agree..
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the Syrian government’s Qatirji Group buys oil from the SDF and refines it for use in the territories it controls. The US recently imposed economic sanctions against the head of the company.
Professor at the University of Paris Khattar Abu Diab told VOA that he believed that oil sales were mostly carried out on the black market and that the Islamic State also sold oil from the same fields to the Syrian government when controlled them.
According to the expert, American troops plan to complete the withdrawal no later than April and that all parties to the conflict are preparing for this moment to fill the vacuum in the territory east of the Euphrates River. Khattar Abu Diab emphasizes that in this race against time, Turkey is negotiating with both the US and Russia, while the Kurds are negotiating with the US and the Syrian government..
Hilal Kashan, professor of political science at the American University of Beirut, notes that the parties to the Syrian conflict engage in “pragmatic business contacts” rather than discussing “morality”.
“The war in Syria is a proxy war, and everyone here is fighting on behalf of someone else,” he says. – The Kurds need money. If they do not receive them from the Syrian government through the sale of oil, then they can ask the US for money. Therefore, I do not see any ideological problems for the United States. Politics is a pragmatic thing. These people are selling oil. If Assad does not receive oil from the Kurds, he will receive it from another source “.
Lebanese economist and former finance minister George Korm told VOA that he believes Kurds in northern Syria are showing “an interest in constructive dialogue with the Syrian government,” given the “threats of Turkish President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan to create a security zone on north of Syria “.
Syria is being helped by strong countries with economic resources such as China, Russia and Iran, he said, so he does not believe that US economic sanctions will have a significant impact on the Syrian government. He also says that the Syrian economy has traditionally been self-sufficient, so it is less dependent on external forces..
Arab media, however, have reported in recent weeks that the Syrian currency is depreciating against the dollar and that the black market rate is 600-700 Syrian lira per dollar, leading to a worsening economic situation for many people..