Making of Syrian Crisis

Published date01 January 2015
Date01 January 2015
Subject MatterArticles
Making of Syrian Crisis:
The Energy Factor
Vrushal T. Ghoble1
The West Asian region holds a critical position in the global hydrocarbon regime.
The largest source of oil and huge natural gas reserves have made it a strategically
sensitive region. The excessive presence of external powers, especially the United
States which at one stage defined its national security in terms of secure oil supply
from the region, has made the region a centre of competition and conflict. It is
well documented that oil was one of the crucial motives behind the overthrow of
President Saddam Hussein. It is the contention of this article that the Syrian crisis
too can be explained in terms of competitive politics of global and regional powers,
to possess regional hegemony and have control over energy resources.
Having looked at the changing global energy dynamics, the article evaluates the
ongoing Syrian war, emphasizing that the crisis was significantly, if not primarily,
due to the energy pipeline geopolitics and not confined to merely a regime change
or a sectarian factor. In the years up to 2011, Syria was exporting more than
150,000 b/d of crude to the international market, which was not much but a
sizeable fraction. The crisis has not just sent Syria’s energy sector into turmoil, but
has also caused a serious humanitarian catastrophe. The article also underlines,
how the recent finds in the East Mediterranean, especially offshore Syria, which are
expected to be around 3,450 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas and 1.7 billion
barrels (bill. Bbls) of oil reserves, pose a serious competition for the Gulf.
The article is divided into four sections. It begins by underlining the changing
energy geopolitics and identifying Syria in the East Mediterranean energy finds.
The article then talks about the pipeline geopolitics and the Syrian crisis, which
leads to the fourth aspect of the article discussing the regional and external
actors, and their stake in the Syrian conflict.
Regime change, sectarianism, energy, pipeline geopolitics, Syria
International Studies
52(1–4) 38–52
2017 Jawaharlal Nehru University
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0020881717714676
1 Assistant Professor, Centre for West Asian Studies, School of International Studies, JNU, New
Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Vrushal T. Ghoble, Assistant Professor, Centre for West Asian Studies, School of International Studies,
JNU, New Delhi-67, India.

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