In 2010 Russia signed a deal to protect Syria in exchange for control of its gas development and a veto over the gas pipeline which would run from Iran into the European market. Think about it. Under what conditions would Canada sign a deal with the US to decide when and how to develop and where to ship our oil and gas?
In Russia "the energy sector (and that means Gazprom) currently accounts for approximately two-thirds of Russia’s exports, around 30 percent of Russia’s GDP, and almost half of the Federal budget.
Russia is the principal energy supplier to Eastern Europe and has a habit of cutting off their pipelines to make threats and raise prices. This is a big deal. It also explains why Russia's only naval base in the Mediterranean (Tartus) has proven merely awkward, not a casus belli, even after Israel bombed some equipment from Russia near the docks.
The clincher? The Saudis are trying to buy Russia out of the deal. July 31st the Saudis asked Russia to quit backing Assad's Syria. The deal would include supporting Russian influence in the new Syria, buying $15 billion in arms from Russia and guaranteeing that the new Syria would never sign off on the Iranian pipeline or on the competing one from Qatar that Assad rejected in 2009.
Putin says Nyet.
That leaves the puzzling behaviour of the US. Warnings to Assad about "red lines" which were ignored when breached. War ships steaming towards Syria? The simplest explanation is stupid pills in the White House.
UPDATE: September 4th. From Zero Hedge: Senate committee approves pro Qatari/Saudi and gas pipeline language.
U.S. policy is to "change the momentum on the battlefield in Syria" in way that brings about negotiated settlement of conflict, leading to a democratic govt in Syria. In other words: a pro-Qatari/Saudi coalition government that will permit the passage of natgas pipelines under Syria, through Turkey and into Europe, breaking Gazpromia's marginal energy monopoly over the broke continent.
|Self interest, all the way down.|