Iran, Iraq and Syria are building a pipeline together. – Escobar


"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."  Pepe Escobar


"The costliest and riskiest U.S. option is direct intervention. To be truly effective, this would require a “no-fly zone” over all of Syria, covering all air and helicopter movement. The United States could, however, begin with arms transfers that would have a far greater chance of success if they included man-portable surface-to-air missiles and antitank guided weapons. U.S. officials could make clear that either the rebels will succeed with such weapons, leading to a negotiated departure of Assad’s government and the installation of a new national government, or the United States will join with allies in creating a no-fly zone.
No one is advocating a serious U.S. air campaign, with substantial money committed and probably significant U.S. air casualties.
"  Cordesman




 If Cordesman believes that a process of creating a no-fly zone in Syria could be done in such a way that the US would not soon end up fighting the Syrian government and an unknown number of other opponents, he is wrong.  General Dempsey sees that clearly and has told the senate and the president that the risks are uacceptable.    Have we forgotten that Russia is "in the mix?" 

Israel is not pleased that our obstinacy over Syria has caused them difficulty in their normally prodective relations with Russia.

Syria, Iraq and Iran are going to build a pipleine to a Syrian port for Iranian gas.  Think about that. pl


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52 Responses to Iran, Iraq and Syria are building a pipeline together. – Escobar

  1. Matthew says:

    Col: So the Shia Crescent is a commercial threat to the Sunnis? It certainly is to Qatar.
    BTW, is Cordesman’s calculus based on the belief that Russia won’t do anything? It’s almost as if he doesn’t perceive them to be an actor.

  2. robt willmann says:

    At the Senate hearing last Thursday, Senator Carl Levin asked Gen. Martin Dempsey to give an unclassified assessment of using military force in Syria. Gen. Dempsey replied in a letter dated 19 July 2013.
    You have to click on the link in the second paragraph of the web page to get Gen. Dempsey’s letter in the pdf format. It speaks to costs of $1 billion per month at least and candidly states that the “decision to use force” is “no less than an act of war”.
    Then on 19 July, Senators Levin and McCain sent Gen. Dempsey a letter with six questions about Syria and five about Afghanistan. The letter is reproduced on the following web page and can also be obtained as a pdf file from a link on the web page–
    Some of the questions call more for a political evaluation than a military one.

  3. Tony says:

    “Then it could go under the Mediterranean to Greece and beyond….” I am sure someone has done the homework, but wouldn’t the cost be way too much if the pipeline is to go under the Mediterranean? Wouldn’t Israel sabotage such a pipeline given its animosity toward Iran (and such a pipeline may pose a direct competition to Israel’s export of natural gas)? A pipeline through Turkey makes much more sense.

  4. Russia is opposed to the proposed pipeline referenced!

  5. The Twisted Genius says:

    So there’s an economic aspect to this mess in addition to the Gulf dreams of Wahabbist expansion and the Israeli dream of an isolated and destitute Iran. Something for everyone. General Dempsey’s letter to Congress is excellent. I don’t think it needs any editorializing. However, I doubt many in Congress have the intellect or attention span to carefully read this three page document. As a good friend of mine said, “Like pigs looking at a wristwatch, a little curiosity but precious little comprehension.” The letter is available at scribd.
    Those responsible for our foreign policy can’t think past a campaign slogan or war cry. Just look at the mess that came from “Anybody but Saddam.” Although “Perdicaris alive or Rasouli dead!” does have a certain poetic ring to it

  6. JohnH says:

    Such a pipeline would provide enough gas to put pressure on prices, putting Israel’s deep water gas projects in question. Could that be a major reason Israel that is so exercised about Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program.
    Also hurt would be Noble Energy, a company that hired Bill Clinton as its lobbyist.

  7. turcopolier says:

    I guess that is it then. pl

  8. Fred says:

    Isn’t that “Israeli deep water gas” actually off the coast of Palestinian Gaza?

  9. The Twisted Genius says:

    “Russia is opposed to the proposed pipeline referenced!”
    And yet Russia is not keen to see the region in absolute chaos and turmoil in pursuit of their economic interests. Perhaps they, like General Dempsey, find the idea of rushing into war without adequate reason to be absurd. Or they may be more concerned about enabling the jihadists than we are.

  10. Eliot says:

    The pipeline would cut the Russians out, no?

  11. Amir says:

    No as the pipeline would divert the Iranian gas to Iraqi and Syrian markets rather than European and East Asian markets. LNG is a long way from home and building a pipeline to Europe would take another 20 years. Also remember that GECF is in full swing and it is a supplier world not a buyer’s.

  12. The Twisted Genius says:

    Earlier this year Russia and China signed some major oil and gas deals. I doubt a gas pipeline from Iran to Europe would cause too much consternation in the Kremlin.

  13. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    If this proposed pipeline were to be built, perhaps it might indeed cut into Russia’s sales to Europe. But then, there might be other customers quite willing and able to take up the slack: 1) China, which faces horrendous particulate pollution problems from its reliance on coal-fueled power production; 2) Japan, where the populace – justly, in my estimation – have little faith in a return to such a heavy reliance on nuclear power plants for energy production. There are countervailing forces against increased uses of natural gas in both of these nations, of course, both political and economic; but the Chinese would be wise to hedge their bets in any event, since the continued supply of natural gas from Iran could be interrupted in the event of hostilities, and Japan is still learning the cost of the disaster at Fukujima that originated in a reliance upon a mortally dangerous technology for a nation beset with earthquakes and tsunamis. Nuclear plants require ready access to coolant water, and this makes it seem logical to locate by the ocean. As is now being learned, proximity to an ocean when you live in a highly active tectonic environment can throw issues at your engineers beyond their skills. But even if you have confidence that the engineering is sufficient to anticipate and to build in multiple redundancies to obviate the inherent dangers of the situation, actually constructing to that standard might be just too expensive to be cost effective.
    The politics of energy may lead to some major reassessments of many nations’ long term interests. The past will no longer be prologue in that event. Our erstwhile swaggering behaviors on the world stage will be even more maladaptive in these changed circumstances. Arrogance not only loses you friends and influence, it renders you heedless to preventable errors.

  14. Bill H says:

    Yes. The idiots in Congress will read the letter as saying simply, “Yes, we can do it,” and treat it as a blessing to encourage the President to declare war on Syria. Note that they should do the war declaration themselves, of course, but Congress long ago ceded that power to the executive branch.

  15. taras says:

    I guess we know who won the war.

  16. eakens says:

    Russia is also opposed to the Israeli dream of resurrecting the Mosul-Haifa pipeline. Their preference is that neither pipelines come to fruition, but take a guess which one they prefer even less so.

  17. b says:

    @WRC “Russia is opposed to the proposed pipeline referenced!”
    Only as long as Gazprom isn’t involved. For a share of 25.1% plus an exclusive license to drill for gas along the Syrian (and Lebanese) coast Gazprom and Russia will happily support the project.

  18. The argument that “oil” is fungible meaning a world wide market should be of interest to all. IMO I don’t believe it. The Western Hemisphere is largely self sustaining in oil if correctly produced and distributed. OPEC membership of interest always but it does appear that the Eurasian Continent for varoius reasons does need MENA oil for the next 100 years. I am fascinated that key figures and statistics on oil are seldom available to the public. But wondering how much time, effort and money is spent by the IC on “oil” issues. I long ago concluded that the civil agencies in the US government, including the DoE lack oil expertise and rely on organizations like API for their basic statistical inputs. It is also clear that the FEDERAL RESERVE and Treasury Department have not a clue as to “oil” issues. Does STATE DEPT.? Not sure! ODDLY the real expertise on BIOFUELS does exist in the Department of Agriculture. The Western Hemisphere is the real player on BIOFUELS.

  19. confusedponderer says:

    Without a reason?! What hyperbole, Sir!
    Isn’t beating Iran over the head plenty reason enough by itself? As long as there is one country in the region not inferior militarily to Israel, and not under Saudi influence, and not submissive vis a vis America that country must be put down!
    Because it is that spark of independence that lets Leviatan sleep restless – after all, the absence of complete full spectrum dominance (and if possible beyond, just to be super safe) is the seed of future disaster. Did I say disaster? Holocaust!
    If the Iranians have their way, build the pipeline, sell their natural gas tomorrow, they will thwart US efforts to economically cripple Iran, making the US lose face, suggesting US weakness. Since the appearance of weakness is tantamount to a devastating defeat, and scratches the egos of politicos building their career on calls to bomb this, that or that other country, this must not stand (be it only to not provide attack ad material to the opposition)!
    I went though something similar in Kindergarten, it left me scarred for life. Just kiding.
    That said, that sort of infantile nuttiness is something equally manifest in D.C. as it is in Netanyahoo’s fever ravaged brain.
    What about Turkey’s abandoned “no problem with the neighbours” policy as a template for the Middle Easter? Wouldn’t that be stunningly sensible (and isn’t that sadly utterly unrealistic)?

  20. confusedponderer says:

    Dictated by geography, inevitably so.
    “… 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.”

  21. confusedponderer says:

    In face of Israel’s naval blockade, the Palestinians can’t enforce their right to these oil and gas fields, and don’t have the capability to exploit them, so the Israelis firmly hold them at the throat.
    From an Israeli point of view, judging by their record on building settlements on occupied lands, that probably means they see the fields as up for grabs and keeps.
    Internsational law is in this regard not an Israeli concern. The Israelis have to the best of my knowledge not signed UNCLOS, so that’s out. The US will protect them at the UN, and they will not consent to international jurisdiction over the matter.

  22. jonst says:

    I get the sense that if this nation is buffaloed into any misadventures in Syria, in the face of clear (albeit weakly stated)opposition from JCS, and ambiguous opposition out of SOME parts of the Executive Branch, the President, ostensibly leading this ambiguity, if we get in in Syria in the face of this opposition, we will have crossed some kind of Rubicon. And Carter would be correct…we no longer have a functioning democracy.

  23. breathdair says:

    OT, my apologies.
    Col Lang, have you read the articles in the Sydney Herald and Telegraph about disillusioned defectors from the rebels to Assad?

  24. turcopolier says:

    Is there a website? pl

  25. JohnH says:

    The gas fields are closer to Cyprus than to Gaza.

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Potentially, US & EU companies could sell a lot of equipment; Caterpillar’s turbines come into mind.

  27. bth says:

    Sir, Qatar is known as a funding source for the rebels. Qatar needs pipelines to move its enormous gas resources. I had read somewhere that their interest in Syria had to do with gaining a right of way for gas pipelines. Both Iran and Qatar would use this pipeline. If true, do you think Iran would offer this pipeline to Qatar as mentioned as a method of throttling in the Syrian rebels’ funding sources from Qatar?

  28. Matthew says:

    TTG: And doesn’t Russia benefit if Iran profits over Saudi Arabia or Qatar? The Russians get zero benefit from a rich Saudi Arabia.

  29. Matthew says:

    taras: The recent EU designation of Hezbollah as a “terrorist organization” is the best proof of that.

  30. Matthew says:

    “Disillusioned”? Did they witness one Chechen head-chopping too many–or did Qatar put a stop payment on their checks?

  31. Oddly the USA in its policies loves pipelines wherever and to whomever they go. Many former government employees spend time and effort lobbying formally or informally on pipeline issues almost all in favor of their construction. This includes Kissinger Associates and Scowcroft Associates.
    The only pipeline the US government ever warned about was President Reagan’s warning to the EU about its building a pipeline for Russian Gas. That was ignored BTW.
    Russian needed both the pipe and wielding technical skills to build that pipeline.
    What I am unsure about is whether has engaged in blackmail for political ends with all of its gas and oil pipeline activity. Putin long ago said Russian energy policy would be handled as a National Security issue including offense and defense. The huge Russia China recent deal on energy is a wonder to behold. Each of those players thinks they got the best of the deal. Well always use a long spoon when supping energy from the devil. Modified Daniel Webster quote?

  32. Charles I says:

    News of the plot thickening with a pipeline through these three threats to the Nation makes me look for my tinfoil hat just by reflex.

  33. PL or others request? No rush! I would love to see a crude or better ranking of MENA nation-states based on the following:
    1. Support for secular institutions;
    2. governance benefiting the population writ large;
    3. health of the economy;
    4. dependence on international marketing of commodities produced including oil and gas;
    5. refugee population including IDPs [internally displaced persons];
    6. breakdown of religions;
    7. quality of air defense systems;
    8. quality of armed forces generally;
    9. average annual FDI [foreign direct investment];
    10. annual donations from other countries;
    11. number of citizens living abroad;
    12. currency controls for its citizens!
    Again my ignorance of MENA probably beyond repair but still of interest. And again except for PL’s musings and often interesting and amusing posts I do find the MENA discussion the best around.

  34. turcopolier says:

    “And again except for PL’s musings and often interesting and amusing posts I do find the MENA discussion the best around.” Is there any reason that I should not ban you for insult? You are correct. You know nothing about the ME and seem unreachable. No, I love you too, but don’t presume to tell me what to write. Try to think of this as something like “Tristram Shandy,” only less worthy of attention. pl

  35. A fool may ask more questions thana wise man or wise woman may answer!

  36. Alba Etie says:

    I would say that since there is zero support from the public – particularly the voting public & that since the 2014 election campaigns are already engaged we will not be buffaloed into going to Syria.
    And , respectfully, I would take issue with the claim of weak opposition from the JSC . IMO Gen Dempsey has been quite on point about opposition to going to Syria.

  37. turcopolier says:

    Incomprehensible. pl

  38. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Look man, why don’t you start to think or to study?
    You are some sort of Juris Doctor; do they all behave like you – refusing to learn and coming up with sophomoroic questions?
    I mean, you are not in that fraternity anymore; trying to impress some young coed.

  39. The Twisted Genius says:

    I don’t think you realize the scope of what you are asking. That is a major undertaking. I suggest you start with the CIA World Fact Book for a general overview of the countries you’re interested in and then go to Wikipedia entries for those thing you are more curious about. This is not something you will learn over a cup of coffee. I spent several years as the desk officer for Iraq, Iran and the Arabian Peninsula as well as Libya and I’m still a babe in the woods.

  40. NY Times reporting that an ice free Arctic Ocean is allowing Russia to ship gas directly to China. The Northwest passage now open for business?

  41. Thanks Babak and TTG! I needed that!
    And PL and others one further question some might be able to answer? Where is the largest cluster of fluent Arabic speakers in the Federal Government?

  42. Fred says:

    Previous CBC news reports showed a total of a dozen ships passing through in 2012. That is hardly “open for business”.

  43. r whitman says:

    Another silly question. It has to be at the US embassies and consulates located in Arabic speaking countries.

  44. steve g says:

    Maybe WRC is auditioning for a
    writers slot on the Late Show
    with David Letterman. He could
    always use another voice on the
    top ten lists!! I hear they do
    have some charming co-eds as
    interns. Letterman married one!

  45. Poul9 says:

    The Russian may not like competion but they can live with it. Your cannot stop your customers from seeking a better price or increased supply security.
    The Turks look like the biggest losers, economic and influence-wise. The Persian Pipeline will not be Iran’s only path to the European market. Besides cementing their alliances with Iraq and Syria the Iranians will not be dependent on Turkey’s goodwill.

  46. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There will be no Iranian gas to Europe; that option was destroyed by European leaders for the next few decades.

  47. Al Arabist says:

    A question for you: What’s your belief about the significance of fluent Arabic speakers in the government? As a fully networked person I can divulge that they often like falafel and kababs.

  48. different clue says:

    Global Warming on the march. A sumertime-icefree Arctic Ocean coming up.

  49. Al Arabist! Me too! As to my question IMO without full language fluency you never have correct insights into other cultures that have a different language. Could be wrong of course. With over 50 dialects Chinese friends often confirm that parts of China really have no clue as to the other parts with different dialects.
    I think there are still about 5000 languages on the face of the Earth but not sure of how many dialects.

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