By Heather Gray
April 11, 2017
Justice Initiative InternationalAre you having trouble making sense of the Syrian conflict and the recent bombing by the Trump administration? As in, what is really going on here?
It is likely a “war for oil!
The players in this Syria debacle reported by the media seem to be Syria, Russia and the United States, when the major player is likely Israel.
Also, rarely mentioned in the news regarding the tragic events in the past few weeks, is that in 2015 Israel reported findings of huge oil reserves in the occupied Golan Heights. Therein lies the critical lynchpin of it all.
Ever since it was claimed or illegally occupied by Israel and away from Syrian control after the 1967 war, the Golan Heights is disputed land. Against international law, Israel continues to attempt to claim the land. Here is a brief history of some issues regarding the legalities of occupied land and extraction of resources:
Unlike the other, costlier Israeli oil exploration program, offshore, the drilling in the Golan is cost effective. So far, Afek has spent about $2.0 million in drilling with funding from private sources, and with the entire program falling well within budget. As technically and financially sound the discovery in the Golan might be, such activities could face legal problems as the area of Golan Heights is still technically Syrian territory and considered “occupied.”
This suggests that the exploitation of mineral reserves in the occupied Golan Heights would violate international law. As a precedent, Singapore successfully sued Japan in the International Court of Justice for having exploited Singapore’s oil resources during World War II. (Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.)
International law establishes that an occupying power can operate already existing and operating oil fields first used by the sovereign country under its control. However, the authorities and the law are in absolute agreement that the drilling of new wells, let alone fracking, by an occupying power is illegal. (Profit Confidential)
A review of the cast of characters involved in it all is also telling, regarding the likely recent motivations of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Trump, as well, to undermine and oust the Syrian government.
Without doubt, undermining and overturning the Syrian government serves Israeli interests. After the oil find, and invariably side-stepping the United Nations and international law, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had attempted to encourage President Obama to acknowledge Israel’s right to the Golan Heights. Obama did not work. Now, Netanyahu is seemingly doing the same with Trump and is probably making progress. It appears Netanyahu is of the opinion that if the U.S. is on Israel’s side, regarding Israeli claims to the occupied land, that a major hurdle will have been overcome. The UN Security Council, however, would still need to address the issue.
Regarding the UN and Israel, however, Trump did state the following that certainly expresses his views regarding his hostility toward the UN and support for Israel:
“The UN is not a friend of democracy, it’s not a friend to freedom, it’s not a friend even to the United States… and it surely is not a friend to Israel… I will veto any attempt by the UN to impose its will on the Jewish state… When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one… We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.” – Donald Trump
In this article are the following topics – much of it citing direct sources: (1) Oil Find in the Golan Heights (2) What Syria Planned Regarding the Oil in the Golan Heights (3) Genie Energy and the listing of the Strategic Advisory Board of Genie Energy (4) Rising Tensions between Israel and Syria, and (5) About Children.
Before going further, however, it is important to note that, since WWII, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance.” Most of it is for military purposes. Here is the December 2016 report from the Congressional Research Service:
Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $127.4 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. (Congressional Research Service)
Oil Find in the Golan Heights
Leadership of company behind the find seen as close to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 9, 2015 (UPI) — Genie Energy, a company with headquarters in the United States, confirmed it made a major discovery of oil and natural gas in the Golan Heights.
The New Jersey-based company said data from exploratory wells drilling into the area confirm what it said were “significant” quantities of oil and natural gas.
“We remain optimistic given the results to date,” Genie Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Howard Jonas said in a statement. “We are now working diligently to determine the production costs and total quantity of the resource.”
The company’s Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil and Gas, drilled into a column of reserves about 1,150 feet thick, about 10 times larger than the global average.
Genie said it lacks evidence to determine if the reserves in the Golan Heights can be technically or economically produced.
The Israeli Ministry of Energy and Water Resources awarded a drilling permit to Genie for territory in the southern Golan Heights in 2013. The company at the time estimated the reserve potential in a 150-square-mile southern portion of the Golan Heights was high.
Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney had served as an adviser to Genie. In a profile published by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Genie CEO Jonas was described as one of the primary campaign supporters and U.S. allies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel annexed the southern part of the Golan in 1981, though the United States and most of the international community don’t recognize the claims to sovereignty. Syria still claims the Golan and demands its return. (UPI)
In 2016, after the oil find, Netanyahu stated that Israel will never return the Golan Heights to Syria:
Jerusalem (CNN) Israel’s Prime Minister has declared that the Golan Heights will remain permanently under the country’s control, during Israel’s first Cabinet meeting held in the territory.
“The time has come for the international community to recognize reality, especially two basic facts,” said Benjamin Netanyahu during a Cabinet meeting Sunday.
“One, whatever is beyond the border, the boundary itself will not change. Two, after 50 years, the time has come for the international community to finally recognize that the Golan Heights will remain under Israel’s sovereignty permanently.” (CNN)
What Syria Planned for the Oil in the Golan Heights
Below is an excerpt from an article entitled “Israel exploits Syrian chaos to plan looting of Golan oil” regarding the Israeli exploitation of the Syrian resources and what has been the Syrian government’s plan for the oil.
Looting Syria’s resources
The Golan plateau was occupied by Israel during the 1967 War. UN Security Council resolution 242and several other resolutions since have called for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territory and condemned Israel’s actions there.
These have included: annexation and imposition of Israeli law in 1981, an action the UN Security Council declared “null and void.” Israel has also transferred its own population into the area for the purpose of colonization and the use of the territory’s resources for its own economic interests.
The Golan’s fertile land and water resources have been a strategic interest for Israel and now its energy potential may bring huge financial rewards.
Despite international criticism, Israel’s inherently discriminatory and exploitative policies inside the Golan continue without sanction. Israeli ministers have voiced their desire to capitalize on the destabilization of Syria as an excuse to cement Israel’s illegal hold on the territory.
Whilst Israel continues to exploit the natural resources of the territories it occupies, the international community continues to do nothing to enforce its decisions as the occupation of the Golan verges on reaching the 50-year milestone.
The Syrian government had planned to build a pipeline across the Middle East into Lebanon and the Mediterranean for the European markets. It had signed agreements with Iran and Iraq towards this end.
It seems likely therefore that Israel will have a free hand to loot Syrian oil from the Golan, backed by the West. (The Electronic Intifada)
The oil exploration in the Golan Heights at the behest of the Israel, and reported in 2015, was conducted by the Afek Israeli Energy Company whose interests are held by the U.S. based Genie Energy. Below is information about the company from its website:
Genie Energy is comprised of two divisions: Genie Retail Energy and Genie Oil and Gas:
Genie Retail Energy
Genie Retail Energy is a leading independent supplier of electricity and natural gas to homes and small business in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern United States. The key to Genie Retail Energy’s success is our commitment to consumer choice. We offer a variety of plans that empower consumers. Genie Retail Energy brands include IDT Energy and Residents Energy.
Genie Oil and Gas (GOGAS)
GOGAS is an oil and gas exploration company focused on producing clean and affordable transportation fuels from the world’s oil and gas resources. GOGAS utilizes technologies that will help to preserve the quality of ground water, reduce carbon emissions, and minimize impacts on local landscapes.
GOGAS contains Genie Energy’s interests in Afek:Afek holds an exclusive petroleum exploration license covering 396.5 square kilometers in Northern Israel. The Company believes, based on its preliminary analysis and interpretation of data from its ongoing exploratory drilling program and other geological data, that its exploratory license area contains significant quantities of conventional oil and gas.
The listing below, of the influential Strategic Advisory Board of Genie Energy, speaks for itself! The board members, many well known in the American political and economic arenas, are more than likely weighing in on many of the decisions regarding Syria itself as well as the Golan Heights legal issues. Given the sizable findings of oil in the Golan Heights, the company stands to make huge profits.
Taken from the Genie Energy website, those serving on the Genie Energy Strategic Advisory Board are the following:
Michael Steinhardt (SAB Chairman)
Noted Wall Street investor and Principal Manager, Steinhardt Management LLC. Founder Steinhardt, Fine, Berkowitz & Co., and noted philanthropist.
46th Vice President of the United States. Vice President Cheney also served as President and CEO of Halliburton Company and U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1989 to 1993.Marry Landrieu
United States Senator from Louisiana from 1996 to 2014. Senator Landrieu served as chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. In her capacity as chair, she sponsored and passed the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Bill. The bill fosters partnerships focused on developing resources such as natural gas and alternative fuels, on the academic, business and governmental levels.
Founder and Executive Chairman of News Corporation, one of the world’s largest diversified media companies. News Corporation’s holdings include Fox Entertainment, Dow Jones and Company, the New York Post, HarperCollins and significant media assets on six continents.Bill Richardson
Governor of New Mexico from 2003 to 2011. Mr. Richardson has served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1997-1998), Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration (1998-2001), Chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and as Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.
Jacob Rothschild, OM, GBEChairman of the J. Rothschild group of companies and of RIT Capital Partners plc. Chairman of Five Arrows Limited. Lord Rothschold is a noted philanthropist and Chairman of the Rothschild Foundation.
Dr. Lawrence SummersCharles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University. Dr. Summers served as the 71st Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton and as Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama.
R. James Woolsey
Director of Central Intelligence from 1993 to 1995 and as Under Secretary of the Navy from 1977 to 1979. Mr. Woolsey is co-founder of the United States Energy Security Council and is Chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Regarding the oil find and the Assad government, two of the board members – Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch – were referred to in the 2015 Profit Confidential article entitled “Genie Energy Stock – Golan Heights Oil Discovery Could Shake Middle East Politics:”
Here’s the Bottom Line on Israeli’s Oil DiscoveryThe fact that Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch invested in attempts to search for oil in the occupied Syrian territories suggests they support the overthrow of the Assad government in Damascus.
In that sense, the oil discovery in the Golan will not in itself alter crude prices. But the related geopolitical concerns suggest tensions in the Middle East will increase. This should help in boosting the cost of oil in the short and medium run.
Rising Tensions Regarding Golan Heights Oil, Syria and IsraelSome have noted that it is highly unlikely that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gassed his own people. Progress had been made by the US and Russia regarding Syria. Trump had said earlier he would not go after Assad or encourage overturning the Assad government. The question was/is “Why would Assad initiate a poison gas assault on his own people to essentially commit suicide?” It makes no sense. So the question remains who or what was responsible for the gas assault? Trump, inappropriately, did not insist on an investigation but instead presumed the guilt of Assad.Did Israel play a role in the Syrian gas assault? Some have questioned if that might be the case but there has not been an investigation, as yet, as mentioned.
Also, just before the U.S. bombing, tensions between Israel and Syria had been increasing, as reported by CNN, as well as from Al Jazeera:
(CNN) March 19, 2017
Friday’s (March 17) encounter was the most serious clash between Israel and Syria since the start of the Syrian civil war six years ago. Tension between the two countries de-escalated as the conflict progressed, but the threats have increased between the two countries in recent months, along with Israel’s reported strikes.
An airstrike near Palmyra would be one of the deepest inside Syria since the beginning of the fighting….
Israel carries out air strikes inside Syria
(Al Jazeera) March 17, 2017
The Israeli army says its aircraft have carried out several strikes inside Syria, prompting Syrian forces to retaliate with ground-to-air missiles, one of which was intercepted.
Thursday night’s attack was one of the most serious incidents between the two countries, which remain technically at war, since civil war broke out in Syria in March 2011….And further, in addition to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s widely reported meeting with Trump in February 2017, Trump also “secretly” met with Yossi Cohen, the head of Mossad (Israeli Secret Service), in December 2016 as reported by “The Times of Israel“. We are not to know, but probably the issue of the Golan Heights was discussed.
Mossad Director Yossi Cohen briefed the Trump staff members on the Iranian nuclear deal, the Syrian civil war, terror threats and the Palestinian issue, Ynet reported Saturday. The report did not say when the briefings took place.
There are no innocent players in the mix here. It appears that the concern and outrage about the tragic death of Syrian children, who had been exposed to the deadly gas, was presented as a major catalyst for Trump ordering the launching of Tomahawk missiles against Syria. This bombing by the U.S. was done, even though there was never an investigation regarding who the culprit was that instigated this tragedy.
Nevertheless, if Trump wishes to express concern about children – and he should – then he also needs to look at the Israeli record of killing Palestinian children to also express concern and alarm at Israel for its “apartheid” system and violent treatment of Palestinians. From 2000 to 2017, the reported number of deaths of Palestinian children, thanks to Israeli aggression, was 2,150 as reported by “If Americans Knew.”
“The majority of these [Palestinian] children were killed and injured while going about normal daily activities, such as going to school, playing, shopping, or simply being in their homes. Sixty-four percent of children killed during the first six months of 2003 died as a result of Israeli air and ground attacks, or from indiscriminate fire from Israeli soldiers.” – Catherine Cook
Given the oil find in the Golan Heights and the desire by Israel to own and control it all, it is fairly clear that Israel has a vested interest in both overturning the Syrian government and to install a more compliant government that will serve Israeli interests and perhaps sway international law in its favor.
Especially given the oil find, Israel also has a vested interest in changing the international law regarding the Syrian right to the Golan Heights and to ease any restrictions on Israel extracting the oil for its exclusive use.
To repeat, for all intents and purposes, the U.S. appears to be engaged in a “War for Oil” against Syria to serve the interests of Israel.