Trump Commits “Oil Piracy”: Seizes Oil from Iran and Syria

August 17th, 2020 - by Dave DeCamp / & Moon of Alabama

President Trump Says Stolen Iranian Fuel Sent to Houston

Dave DeCamp /

 (August 16, 2020) — The US confirmed on Friday that it seized 1.116 million barrels of Iranian fuel that was bound for Venezuela. President Trump said the four oil tankers that are carrying the fuel are headed to Houston.

“We have four tankers. They are going to Houston, and they’re there … Iran is not supposed to be doing that. And so we did — we seized the tankers, and we’re moving them, and moved, to Houston,” President Trump said at a press conference on Friday.

It is not clear how exactly the shipment was seized. With US sanctions on Venezuela targeting the maritime industry, it is possible the shipowners were threatened with the loss of registration or insurance, which could have been enough for them to comply and sail to a US port.

The Department of Justice said in a statement on the matter that the US filed a complaint “seeking to forfeit all petroleum-product cargo aboard four foreign-flagged oil tankers.” The DOJ statement said with “the assistance of foreign powers,” the seized fuel is now in “US custody.”

With both countries under heavy US sanctions, Venezuela and Iran are natural trading partners. Venezuela is facing a gasoline shortage, with US sanctions making it impossible for the oil-rich country to process oil into gasoline. Iranian tankers carrying gas made it to Venezuela in May, drawing the ire of Washington.

Syria: Trump’s ‘Keep The Oil’ Occupation Runs Into Trouble

Moon of Alabama

(August 11, 2020) — Turkey’s occupation of some areas in north Iraq is in trouble as is the US occupation of northeast Syria.

Turkey has for some time taken positions inside north Iraq to prevent Kurdish PKK fighters from infiltrating into Turkey. It also uses drones to hit PKK positions. The corrupt leader of the ruling Kurdish clan in north Iraq, Masoud Barzani, has no problem with Turkey hunting his brethren as long as Turkey buys oil from him. But the Iraqi government in Baghdad sees every Turkish intrusion as an attack on Iraq’s sovereignty.

Turkey reported today that it ‘neutralized 7 PKK terrorists in north Iraq’. That was however not the case:

BAGHDAD — A Turkish drone strike killed two senior Iraqi security officials, Iraq’s military said Tuesday, marking the first time Turkey’s operation to root out Kurdish rebels in Iraq’s north produced fatalities among high-ranking Iraqi personnel.

The drone targeted a vehicle belonging to the Border Guards in the Bradost area, north of Irbil, the military statement said, causing the deaths of two commanders and the vehicle’s driver.

Gen. Mohammed Rushdi, commander of the Border Guards’ 2nd Brigade and Brig. Zubair Hali, commander of the 3rd Regiment, were killed in the attack Ihsan Chelebi, the mayor of Bradost, told The Associated Press. He said they had been establishing new posts in the area.

The operation drew the ire of Iraqi officials who on two occasions summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Baghdad to deliver a protest note. The killing of the high-ranking Iraqi officials is expected to further strain Iraq’s relations with Turkey.

This will add another hostile nation to Erdogan’s ever growing portfolio of these.

Washington’s “Oil Occupation” of Northeast Syria

A different situation involving the PKK is the US occupation of northeast Syria between the Turkish boarder and the Euphrates River. The US proxy force are local PKK fighters under Mazloum Kobani Abdi who have renamed themselves Syrian Democratic Forces so that the US can pretend that they are not the enemies of its NATO ally Turkey. Mazloum recently had a meeting with Barzani who the PKK views as a more or less hostile element.

There have recently been additional incidents that put Mazloum and the SDF into a very bad light. Islamic State fighters and their families who are imprisoned in camps guarded by the SDF have been let go by heavily bribed guards. A Sheik of an Arab tribe in east Deir Ezzor governorate has been murdered by SDF members. The tribe has rebelled and set an ultimatum to the SDF to hand over the killers.

Then there is the oil that Trump claims to keep. Mazloum first tried to sell it to an Israeli company. That did not work out but in late July, a deal was signed between Mazloum and a small US company. That angered not only Syria and Turkey but has now led to the rejection of Mazloum by the PKK itself.

Today Cemîl Bayik, one of the five founders of the PKK, condemned the oil deal (machine translation):

The PKK’s roof structure, KCK’s Co-chair Cemil Bayık, regarding the oil agreement signed with the US company in Rojava, said, “Syria is an internationally accepted state. That is why all of Syria’s underground and aboveground resources belong to the people, not to anyone. I mean, nobody can do these things.

Speaking to the media close to the PKK, Cemil Bayık said that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) signed an oil agreement with a US company, “We are also following some things from the press. I don’t know exactly what is the reality. For example, it is said that an alliance was made through an oil company, and even the Syrian regime said that it did not accept it, it was illegal, it said things like “they are stealing our oil”.

Saying that “Syria is an internationally recognized state”, Bayık said:

“That is why all of Syria’s underground and aboveground resources belong to the people, not to anyone. So nobody can make these things property. We say that the Autonomous Syrian administration, oil, underground and aboveground wealth are all of the Syrian peoples. …”

Local Leaders Tell US Military to Leave

Mazloum’s oil deal is illegal says the leader of the PKK. It seems that Mazloum has thereby lost his authority. Also today, the Arab tribes of Deir Ezzor held another meeting, which ended with a demand to the US and the SDF to leave their areas:

The Al-Akidat tribal leaders demanded, as quoted by the Sputnik Agency, that “the administration of the region be for our people. Arabs exclusively, and the emphasis on the unity and independence of Syria.”

The news agency quoted local sources in the countryside of Deir Ezzor as saying that nearly 5,000 people, including a large number of notables and sheikhs of the Al-Akidat Tribe and other tribes, held an expanded meeting in the house of the tribe’s chief general, Ibrahim Khalil al-Hafl, in the village Dheban and gave the US-led Coalition forces only one month to fulfill the demands that came out of the meeting, the most important of which are the disclosure of the perpetrators of the assassinations, the release of detainees, and the removal of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its affiliates.

The reporter added that the tribal meeting condemned the state of security chaos, administrative and military corruption, and the assassinations, the latest of which was the assassination of Sheikh Mutashar Al-Hafil and his relative, Dara Mikhlif Al-Khalaf, for which the Al-Akidat Tribe held the SDF and the US Coalition responsible.

The US troops in Syria and their SDF proxies may soon see a full blown rebellion against their occupation. This while Mazloum’s authority over the Kurds of north Syria has been seriously weakened. Trump’s instinct to pull the troops out of Syria was right. After he ran into resistance from the Pentagon and hawkish senators, he invented the ‘keep the oil’ excuse to justify his lack of insistence. That will now come back to haunt him. Losing troops in Syria during the campaign season may well cost him votes.

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