STAR- Columnist Zeynep Gurcanli comments on oil politics in the Middle East after regime change in Iraq. A summary of her column is as follows:
Here’s the outcome of the war: With the US invasion of Iraq and the downfall of the country’s regime, all of the oil agreements Russia and France made with Saddam Hussein in the past have now been rendered null and void. And Israel has replaced Russia and Germany, two countries dead set against the US war, in the Iraqi oil bazaar.
The Israeli government has already begun laying the necessary groundwork to pump oil extracted in the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk to its own soil. The plan is very simple, namely reopening the long-defunct oil pipeline from Mosul to the Mediterranean port of Haifa in northern Israel. Israeli daily Haarezt reported on March 31 that Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzky was seriously considering the possibility of resuming oil flow through the Mosul-Haifa pipeline. The pipeline has been inoperative since 1948, when the British dominance in the Middle East came to an end. Apparently the US-led invasion of Iraq meant for Israel killing two birds with one stone. After getting rid of its old foe Saddam Hussein, Israel is now likely to enjoy an opportunity to reduce the nation’s energy bill through replacing expensive Russian imports with oil from northern Iraq. However, the Israeli plan is not without its difficulties. There is one obstacle, and a very serious one: the existing administration in Syria.
The Mosul-Haifa oil pipeline passes through Syrian territory to reach the refinery at Haifa. Given the state of war that still exists between Syria and Israel, the Assad government seems unlikely to allow such a plan to proceed. Pumping oil from Mosul to Hafia via Jordan may be an option, but it would be too expensive. So a second regime change in the region, this time in Syria, would make the Israelis much happier. Given all this, Washington’s pointing the finger at Damascus makes much more sense now. Reopening the pipeline would also serve US interests in the long run.
Two US-made ‘democratic’ regimes in the region, one in Baghdad and the other in Damascus, would secure the flow of Iraqi oil to Israel and free the country from its dependence on pricey Russian oil. The entire Middle East will be reshaped in line with these concerns.
What about Turkey’s place in this new project? When our Parliament last month rejected a US request to deploy troops in the country for an invasion of Iraq, Turkey not only blew off US grants and loans but also cast the future of the existing Kirkuk oil pipeline, which terminates in southern Turkey’s Yumurtalik, into jeopardy. No one should be surprised if the US throws its weight behind the Mosul-Hafia pipeline, which it deems more secure, to seize Iraq’s oil resources rather than behind the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik line.
SOURCE: OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER, DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF PRESS AND INFORMATION