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Six weeks ago in a conference in a hotel in Istanbul, Turkey the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (NOC) decided to establish the Syrian Interim Government (SIG).

It was an interesting development because the SIG is ostensibly going to govern the areas in northern Syria which are under rebel control, even though these areas are under the control of several different rebel groups and none of them are willing to cede their control to anyone else.

I've been thinking about this move by the NOC and at first I could only think of three reasons why they did it.

1- It's what the SNC/NOC do best - conferences, usually with only a few dozen people, often in a hotel in Istanbul, pretentiously held to decide the future of Syria.

2 - It's a good show for the Friends of Syria Group and gives the media something else to unquestioningly report.

3 - 'We were here first.' Now any attempt in the future to establish an 'interim government' can easily be labeled illegitimate.

But then last week two more reasons, which seem to be the real reasons, came out.

1 - There is now international discussion of easing the embargo on buying Syrian oil - but only for oil sold by the rebels. So the SNC/NOC suddenly needed a 'government' that can sign contracts and receive payments so that oil controlled by the rebels can be 'legally' bought by companies around the world, but most probably by Turkish companies.

2 - The SNC/NOC, who are financially and politically supported by the US, have been preparing a Sharia legal code - in Istanbul under the tutelage of Qatar and Saudi Arabia - and they need a 'government' to 'govern' with this code.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

    by InAntalya on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 11:19:12 AM PDT

  •  Islamist extremists are our enemies, er, friends, (4+ / 0-)

    er, enemies, er, ...

    Oh look, drones watching over US cities to protect us! From our friends, er, enemies, er...


    Actual Democrats is the surest, quickest. route to More Democrats

    by Jim P on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 11:33:33 AM PDT

  •  I think Europe is already buying oil (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InAntalya, Jim P

    from rebels.

    •  I understand that there is now only (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim P

      a very small amount of smuggling of oil out of Syria to Turkey - near the Turkish town of Akçakale, which is essentially the only area which could be used for this.

      Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

      by InAntalya on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 12:07:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Did not know Syria had oil to sell (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InAntalya, marsanges

    Might this refer to Iraqi oil moved by pipeline to Syria ports?

    I think your first points 1-3 are sufficient. Your second set of points 1 and 2 don't sound very convincing in the sense that having a fake government at this stage is pretty much meaningless in these projects. A pretend gov't in exile can't do much if anything to make those things happen.

    •  Some information about Syrian oil, gas and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund, Fire bad tree pretty

      pipelines can be found here:

      http://www.eia.gov/...

      For example:

      In 2011, Syrian total petroleum consumption was 258,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) while total production was 330,800 bbl/d, ...

      In the 12 months prior to the onset of protests in March 2011, approximately 99 percent of Syria's crude exports went to Europe (including Turkey) ...

      There is talk of oil being shipped to Turkey in tankers from areas near Deir ez-Zor which are controlled by the Arab tribes' rebel groups and maybe even from the area around Qamishli which is controlled by Kurdish groups.

      The SNC/NOC want to make sure that they have as much control over this as possible.

      Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

      by InAntalya on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 02:41:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        InAntalya

        So Syria produces about 70,000 bbl/day excess or about 22,600,000 bbl in a year which is IIRC about one day's worth of global production. So not nothing but enough for a rebel group to want to control that's certain.

        What I meant though is, doesn't the control of armed groups on the scene count for more than the proclomations of an exile government startup venture?

        •  Yes and no. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fire bad tree pretty, Quicklund

          Rebel groups can have control of the oil on the scene but can't do much with it because it can only be 'legally' sold through a 'government' - who also receive the payments for the oil.

          This 'government' can use this as leverage to get a cut and/or to try to impose itself on the rebel groups.

          Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

          by InAntalya on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:38:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not totally sold on this (0+ / 0-)

            Why can't rebel groups sell this much petrol on the black market? Plenty of transactions occur w/o formal paperwork ... especially when the seller is a civil war combatant in need of cash.

            But it is an angle to consider.

  •  fun fact (3+ / 0-)

    the first written codification of a sharia legal code was carried out by the british east india company, who were of the opinion that rather than following the mughal legal system, each sect in india would be tried by an unambiguous written legal code based upon what the brits felt was that group's key sacred texts. indians at the time were sort of baffled by the textual literalism. the EAC were also responsible for codifying the laws of manu and enforcing the indian caste system, through censuses and such.

    imperialism is a funny thing.

  •  Thanks InAntalya (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InAntalya

    given the gains that the SAA has made on the ground in recent weeks, as well as the infighting among different groups around Deir Ez-Zor about the oil, this agreement by Syrian exiles may well prove moot.

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