War Against Iran, Iraq AND Syria?
July 23, 2013
Clearing House -
Amidst the incessant
rumble in the (Washington) jungle about a possible Obama
administration military adventure in Syria, new information has
come to light. And what a piece of Pipelineistan information
Picture Iraqi Oil Minister Abdelkarim al-Luaybi, Syrian Oil
Minister Sufian Allaw, and the current Iranian caretaker Oil
Minister Mohammad Aliabadi getting together in the port of
Assalouyeh, southern Iran, to sign a
memorandum of understanding for the construction of the
Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, no less.
Times Online and also elsewhere I have been arguing that this
prospective Pipelinestan node is one of the fundamental reasons
for the proxy war in Syria. Against the interests of Washington,
for whom integrating Iran is anathema, the pipeline bypasses two
crucial foreign actors in Syria - prime "rebel" weaponizer Qatar
(as a gas producer) and logistical "rebel" supporter Turkey (as
the self-described privileged energy crossroads between East and
The US$10 billion, 6,000 kilometer pipeline is set to start in
Iran's South Pars gas field (the largest in the world, shared
with Qatar), and run via Iraq, Syria and ultimately to Lebanon.
Then it could go under the Mediterranean to Greece and beyond;
be linked to the Arab gas pipeline; or both.
Before the end of August, three working groups will be
discussing the complex technical, financial and legal aspects
involved. Once finance is secured - and that's far from certain,
considering the proxy war in Syria - the pipeline could be
online by 2018. Tehran hopes that the final agreement will be
signed before the end of the year.
Tehran's working assumption is that it will be able to export
250 million cubic meters of gas a day by 2016. When finished,
the pipeline will be able to pump 100 million cubic meters a
day. For the moment, Iraq needs up to 15 million cubic meters a
day. By 2020, Syria will need up to 20 million cubic meters, and
Lebanon up to 7 million cubic meters. That still leaves a lot of
gas to be exported to European customers.
Europeans - who endlessly carp about being hostages of Gazprom -
should be rejoicing. Instead, once again they shot themselves in
their Bally-clad feet.
Want war? Here's the bill
Before we get to the latest European fiasco, let's mix this
Pipelineistan development with the new Pentagon "discovery" -
via the deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA),
David Shedd, according to whom the proxy war in Syria may last
"multiple years". If that happens, bye-bye pipeline.
One wonders what those Pentagon intel wizards have really been
doing since early 2011, considering they had been predicting
Bashar al-Assad's fall every other week. Now they have also
"discovered" that jihadis in the Syrian theater of the Jabhat
al-Nusra and al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) mould are actually running
the (ghastly) show. Shedd admitted there are "at least 1,200"
disparate "rebel" factions/gangs in Syria, most of them
Attesting to the appalling average IQ involved in foreign policy
debate in the Beltway, still this information had to be spun to
justify yet another military adventure on the horizon -
especially after President Barack "Assad must go" Obama declared
he would authorize the "light" weaponizing of "good" rebels
only. As if the harsh rules of war obeyed some Weapon Fairy
Godmother high up in the sky.
Into the ring steps General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff. On the same day that Tehran, Baghdad and
Damascus were talking seriously about the business of energy,
Dempsey wrote to US senators of the John McCain warmongering
variety that the US getting into yet another war would lead to
Dempsey wrote that weaponizing and training the "good" rebels
(assuming the CIA has a clue who they are) would cost "$500
million per year initially", require "several hundred to several
thousand troops" and risk weaponizing al-Qaeda-style jihadis, as
well as plunging Washington, according to Dempsey's Pentagonese,
into "inadvertent association with war crimes due to vetting
In case the Obama administration caved in to the warmongers'
favorite option - a no-fly zone - Dempsey also said "limited"
air strikes would require "hundreds of aircraft, ships,
submarines, and other enablers", to a cost "in the billions",
and all that to achieve little else than a "significant
degradation of regime capabilities and an increase in regime
Dempsey at least was frank; unlike Gaddafi in Libya, Bashar
al-Assad's forces would not fold because of a no-fly zone. And
nothing substantially would change because the Syrian government
"relies overwhelmingly on surface fires - mortars, artillery,
and missiles". And even a limited no-fly zone - what former
State Department star Anne-Marie Slaughter euphemistically
defined as a "no-kill zone" - would cost "over $1 billion a
month". And who will be paying for all this? China?
Even with Dempsey playing god cop and sporting the voice of
reason - something quite astonishing in itself; but anyway he's
been to Iraq, and saw first hand the ass-kicking by a bunch of
towelheads with second-hand Kalashnikovs - US pundits are still
relishing the internal debate in the Obama administration over
the "wisdom" of yet another war.
Round up all the Prada jihadis
And while the "wisdom" debate is slated to go on, the European
Union decided to act; meekly bowing to US and Israel pressure,
the EU - itself pressured by the UK and the Netherlands -
blacklisted the armed wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist
The pretext was the bombing of a bus carrying Israelis in
Bulgaria in 2012. Hezbollah said it had nothing to do with it.
Bulgarian investigators said positively yes; then maybe; and now
they admit even circumstantial evidence is shaky.
So the pretext is bogus. This is the EU - after the despicable
denying of overflying rights to the Bolivian presidential plane
- once again meekly playing poodle, with the Brits and the Dutch
trying to weaken Hezbollah just as it has staked its ground in
the Syrian/Lebanese border and has actually fought those jihadis
of the Jabhat al-Nusra and AQI kind.
As a graphic illustration of utter EU cluelessness - some might
say stupidity - Britain, the Netherlands and France, especially,
followed by the others, have just branded the organization that
is fighting jihadis on the ground in Syria/Lebanon "terrorists",
while the jihadis themselves get away with it. So much for
So what's next? It's not far-fetched to imagine the EU totally
forgetting about a pipeline that will ultimately benefit its
citizens and issuing - under US pressure - a directive branding
Iran-Iraq-Syria as a terrorist axis; lobbying for a no-fly zone
applying to all; and recruiting jihadis all over for a Holy War
against the axis, supported by a fatwa issued by Sheikh Yusuf
al-Qaradawi. But first they would need Washington's approval. As
a matter of fact, they might even get it.
Pepe Escobar is the author of
Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid
War (Nimble Books, 2007),
Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge
(Nimble Books, 2007), and
Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be
article was originally published at
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