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Apple of Discord: Golan Heights Oil to Add Fuel to the Fire of Syrian War

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An apparent discovery of huge volumes of oil in the disputed Golan Heights brings the stakes of the Russian involvement in Syria to a new geopolitical dimension, F. William Engdahl stresses.

 It is no secret anymore that the Western political establishment and its Gulf allies have facilitated the Syrian turmoil of 2011 which then evolved into a civil war in order to build competing gas pipelines through Syria to Turkey or via Lebanon to the Mediterranean.

However, it is only a part of the story, American-German historian and strategic risk consultant F. William Engdahl underscores.

“Now oil, lots of oil, comes into the play, and Israel is claiming it’s theirs. The only problem is that it isn’t. The oil is in the Golan Heights which Israel illegally took from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War,” Engdahl pointed out in his recent article for New Eastern Outlook.

It would have remained just an Israeli or a Syrian headache if the problem was not a part of Western global energy game.

To understand the extent of a problem “take a little-known Newark, New Jersey oil company, the contested Golan Heights between Syria and Israel, add a reported major oil discovery there just as Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria goes into high gear, shake it vigorously and we have a potential detonator for World War III,” the strategic risk consultant stressed.

“A little known” New Jersey oil company is Genie Energy Ltd., which is no small potatoes.

Indeed, the Strategic Advisory Board of the company includes such figures as Dick Cheney, James Woolsey, Bill Richardson, Jacob Lord Rothschild, Rupert Murdock, Larry Summers and Michael Steinhardt.

Rebel fighters from the First Battalion under the Free Syrian Army take part in a military training on June 10, 2015, in the rebel-held countryside of the northern city of Aleppo

In 2013 Genie Energy “was granted exclusive oil and gas exploration rights to a 153-square mile radius in the southern part of the Golan Heights by the Netanyahu government,” the expert proceeded with the narrative.Then, on October 8, 2015 Genie Energy’s Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil & Gas announced that the company found a huge oil reservoir on the Golan Heights.

“We’ve found an oil stratum 350 meters thick in the southern Golan Heights. On average worldwide, strata are 20 to 30 meters thick, and this is 10 times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities,” Afek Oil & Gas chief geologist Yuval Bartov claimed in an interview to a local broadcaster as quoted by Engdahl.

“The Golan Heights, however, are illegally occupied by Israel,” Engdahl reminded, adding that the UN has repeatedly stipulated that Israel has no rights for the illegally occupied territories of the Syrian Golan Heights.

In light of this, the Syrian government and even Syrian statehood are regarded by US businessmen and Israeli politicians as a stumbling block in the way of their joint oil projects in the region. In contrast, the potential balkanization and dissolution of Syria would play directly into their hands.

“The Netanyahu government [is now] more determined than ever to sow chaos and disorder in Damascus and use that to de facto create an Israeli irreversible occupation of Golan and its oil,” the expert stressed.

The Western grand game in the Middle East has engaged a number of regional and international actors, including the United States and its NATO and Gulf allies.

“Now an apparent discovery of huge volumes of oil by a New Jersey oil company whose board includes Iraq war architect, Dick Cheney, neo-con ex-CIA head James Woolsey, and Jacob Lord Rothschild… brings the stakes of the Russian intervention on behalf of Syria’s Assad against ISIS [ISIL], al-Qaeda and other CIA-backed ‘moderate terrorists’ to a new geopolitical dimension,” Engdahl underscored.

The stakes are high. However, the situation on the ground shows that the US-backed coup in Ukraine and the Syrian turmoil orchestrated by Washington in order to dissolve Russia’s network of allies and mar Moscow’s international image have proved ineffective.

Ironically, the outcome is contrary to what was expected by Washington: Russia is gaining ground in the Middle Eastern region and on international arena, the expert noted.