US reported to be building two bases near Syrian oil fields

Posted Nov 7, 2019 by Ken Hanly
Local sources in eastern Syria report that the US appears to be preparing to build two substantial military bases in the Soor area which is close to major oilfields that the Trump administration claims it will retain.
Turkish and Russian military vehicles carry out a joint patrol in the Syrian town of  Derbasiyeh
Turkish and Russian military vehicles carry out a joint patrol in the Syrian town of Derbasiyeh
Trump appears to have revised plans for Syria
Trump withdrew US troops from the 30 km so-called safe zone along the Turkish border with Syria. This allowed Turkey to enter the zone and Kurds had to withdraw. In an agreement with Russia there have been joint controls in parts of the area with Russians.
Although some of the US troops were withdrawn into Iraq, Trump announced that some troops would remain to keep control over the oil fields in Kurdish-controlled areas. He even talked of extracting oil from the area. Recent US military deployments appear centered on oilfields in the east of the country. Originally the purpose of US troops was to guard the oil fields against being seized by Islamic militants. No doubt the US also wants to deprive the Syrian government of access to the oil.
A recent article notes that US seizing the oil could be a war crime: "After President Donald Trump said on Monday the U.S. will be "keeping the oil" in northeastern Syria, his administration is looking into the "specifics," according to a senior State Department official -- but it's prompted renewed cries that doing so is a war crime."
Building bases in the area makes sense.
Since US troops will be staying in the area it is not surprising that bases are being built. It shows that the oil decision led to quick planning and that the US is likely to remain in the area for an indefinite but long period.
As a recent Digital Journal article notes Russian news has predicted the US will take oil worth $30 million per month. Trump has actually claimed even more, $45 million per month in his own comments.
Maintaining US troops in Syria will be costly
The cost of building the two new bases will not be insubstantial and maintaining troops in them will add to the cost.
Trump seems to assume that Syrian oil will pay for these added expenses.
There appears no legal basis for seizing and selling Syrian oil
A recent article notes Trump's position and its lack of any legal basis: "Trump has a long history of calling for the U.S. to "take the oil" in the Middle East, in Iraq and Syria in particular. But any oil in both countries belongs to their governments, and according to U.S. law and treaties it has ratified, seizing it would be pillaging, a technical term for theft during wartime that is illegal under U.S. and international law."We're keeping the oil," Trump said Monday to a conference of police chiefs in Chicago. "I've always said that -- keep the oil. We want to keep the oil, $45 million a month. Keep the oil. We've secured the oil.""
Although Trump talks of getting companies such as Exxon-Mobile involved in extracting the oil, so far no large oil company has even expressed interest in such a scheme as there are bound to legal issues arising immediately upon any attempt to extract and claim ownership of the oil.