The organisation, which includes the terrorist PKK group’s Syrian wing, could benefit from US control of oil fields in the north. But without permission from the Syrian regime, this could be counted as a crime.

In this Oct. 28, 2019, US forces patrol Syrian oil fields.
In this Oct. 28, 2019, US forces patrol Syrian oil fields. (Baderkhan Ahmad / AP)

Pentagon Spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman has announced that the revenue from the oil fields in northern Syria will go to the SDF. The SDF is the umbrella organisation which contains the PKK terrorist group's Syrian wing, the YPG, and its political wing the PYD.

Hoffman added that in the fight against Daesh: “[The] US is still working with SDF fighters, providing them with ability and support." 

This announcement contradicts US President Donald Trump’s previous statement in which he stressed that Daesh has been defeated “100%”.

The PKK’s war on Turkey has led to the deaths of nearly 40,000 people in Turkey, including women and children, over the past three decades. 

Despite its long-term NATO ally Turkey’s concerns, the US has provided military training and given military support to the YPG, primarily partnering with the group in northeastern Syria to defeat Daesh. 

Turkey strongly opposes the YPG's presence in northern Syria, which has been a major strain Turkey-US relations.

A US general (C) with YPG militants near the northeastern Syrian town of Derik on April 25, 2017
A US general (C) with YPG militants near the northeastern Syrian town of Derik on April 25, 2017 (Reuters Archive)

Is the US violating international law?

According to Berdal Aral, an international law expert and professor at Istanbul Medeniyet University, this decision violates international law as the US’s decision on oil fields has not been approved by the UN Security Council.

“In order to take action on this issue, the US must get an approval,” said Aral.

He added: “It is against Syria’s sovereignty, income distribution of oil fields by single-acting intervention is also against international law and it damages international peace and security. In addition, the decision also contradicts with the self-determination principle of the countries because according to international development law, every society has right on its natural sources.”

While talking to National Public Radio (NPR), James G. Stewart, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law at Allard Hall University of British Columbia said: “What exactly is Trump planning to do with the oil? Because it really makes quite a difference if they're securing it and protecting it for the true owners, as distinct from taking it without the consent of the owners. One would probably be more acceptable; the other would be a war crime.”

Aral added that without the permission of the Syrian government, it would be pillaging, which is a war crime, and there is no authorisation for their actions.

“The US got assurance authorisation from the UN because of Daesh for its military operations in Syria...However, in this case, the US has no right, approval or authorisation to realise this issue.”

In this Oct. 28,2019, U.S. forces patrol Syrian oil fields
In this Oct. 28,2019, U.S. forces patrol Syrian oil fields (AP)

Who gave the US the right to decide?

After the raid against Daesh leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, Trump has made his intentions with regards to the oil fields in Syria clear. The fields were a crucial source of revenue for Daesh and also could be for the Syrian regime. 

As NPR reports,the sending of additional troops and equipment to the region raises questions about what Trump intends to do with that oil. 

On October 28, Trump said: “But we have now tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners under tight supervision. And now we want the countries in the region to police their own borders.  We don’t want to be a policeman, in this case, of two countries that haven’t gotten along for centuries. But we’re keeping the oil — remember that. I’ve always said that, ‘keep the oil’. We want to keep the oil. Forty-five million dollars a month? Keep the oil.”

Trump added: “It can help us because we should be able to take some also. And what I intend to do perhaps is make a deal with an Exxon Mobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly. Right now it's not big. It's big oil underground, but it's not big oil up top.” 

What will the US do with the oil?

On October 27, Trump told reporters: “We are leaving soldiers to secure the oil. “ He added: “And we may have to fight for the oil. It's OK. Maybe somebody else wants the oil, in which case they have a hell of a fight. But there's massive amounts of oil. And we're securing it for a couple of reasons. Number one, it stops ISIS [Daesh], because ISIS [Daesh] got tremendous wealth from that oil. We have taken it. It's secured. Number two — and again, somebody else may claim it, but either we'll negotiate a deal with whoever is claiming it, if we think it's fair, or we will militarily stop them very quickly. We have tremendous power in that part of the world.”

Source: TRTWorld and agencies