QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – Syrian Kurdish officials said on Saturday the US deal with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to invest oil fields in Syria implied the first US political recognition for the Kurdish administration in the country and an exemption from the US sanctions on Syria.
Kurdish officials said the US has been supporting the SDF militarily in the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) since 2014.
When it comes to politically supporting and recognizing the Autonomous Administration, officials said the US stance was always vague.
But when the US approves signing a deal with the SDF, the military force of the autonomous administration, this implies the first step of political recognition, especially the deal enables the administration to trade oil without the need of the central government approval.
“This decision aims at supporting the SDF-held areas to mitigate the harms of US sanctions on Syria,” Ahed Al-Hindi, a Syrian political analyst told North Press.
Under the oil deal with the SDF, the US is going to supply two refineries to northeast Syria to produce around 20,000 barrels of oil per day and meet part of the oil-rich region’s needs.
Analysts believe that Trump administration wants to use the oil deal in addition to its latest sanctions on the Syrian regime to pressure Damascus and Moscow to accept several conditions, including “stopping support for terrorism and cutting military ties with Iran and its militias.”
The oil agreement is expected to anger Turkey, which rejects the formation of a Kurdish entity in northern Syria.
Damascus is also expected to reject the deal because it would worsen its economic crisis and would give Kurds the upper hand in any negotiations between them and the Assad regime.
Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham revealed that the SDF signed a deal with an American oil company to modernize oilfields in northeast Syria.
“I talked to General Mazloum yesterday, with the SDF,” Graham said during testimony from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the State Department’s budget for the next fiscal year.
“Apparently, they’ve signed a deal with an American oil company to modernize the oil fields in northeastern Syria. Are you supportive of that?” Graham asked Pompeo.
“We are,” Pompeo replied, and Graham responded, “That would be a great way to help everybody in northeastern Syria.”
“The deal took a little longer than we had hoped,” Pompeo added, implying that the State Department had been involved in arranging it.
But “we are now in implementation, and it can be very powerful,” Pompeo added, as Graham praised him for the work.
Sources named the oil company as Delta Crescent Energy LLC, a corporation organized under the laws of the state of Delaware.
The Kurdish-led autonomous administration controls most of Syria’s oil wealth, which is concentrated in and around the Rmelain fields close to the Turkish and Iraqi borders and in the Al-Omar fields in Deir Ezzor province further south.