US stealing Syrian national treasure is a long-time crime: envoy
Published: Sep 14, 2022 07:19 PM
Syrian Ambassador to China Mhd. Hasanein Khaddam Photo: Pang Yue/GT

Syrian Ambassador to China Mhd. Hasanein Khaddam Photo: Pang Yue/GT

Editor's Note:

News that US forces stationed in Syria looted huge amount of oil has caught worldwide attention recently. In early August, the Syrian Oil Ministry said that the US and its mercenaries are stealing an average of 66,000 barrels of oil per day in Syria, about 80 percent of Syria's oil production. "For the US, it is a game of high politics, but for the Syrians it is real suffering," said Syrian Ambassador to China Mhd. Hasanein Khaddam(Khaddam) in an exclusive interview with Global Times (GT) reporter Wang Wenwen.

GT: Recently, the US' stealing Syrian oil has attracted worldwide attention. Through which channel does the US steal? What does it do with the oil?

The US stealing Syrian national treasure is a long-time crime. In fact, the US' occupation forces on Syrian territories have continued what ISIS was doing - stealing and destroying oil fields and pipelines machinery. The US' occupation forces learned all that from ISIS, and followed the same ISIS deeds, no difference whatsoever, to steal the Syrian oil in tanks on weekly, and sometimes daily basis, and smuggle it outside the country.  

Just search on the net you will read many quotes by former US president Donald Trump saying that the US army is in Syria for oil, while the current US administration has its own claims. The two administrations have been stealing Syrian oil and gas, the same way ISIS did. 

What matters for the Syrian people is they are deprived of their natural wealth, which is stolen midday. The crime is stealing, and the thief is "the leader of the free world" or the worst terrorist group. They share the same vision and policies and commit the same crimes. Please notice that the US is the richest country in the world, stealing a third world country, and imposing illegal unilateral measures to suffocate the economy and people of this country , and "starve and freeze the people to death' as one US politician described US policies in Syria.

GT: The Syrian Oil Ministry once said that the US and its mercenaries are stealing an average of 66,000 barrels of oil per day in Syria, about 80 percent of Syria's oil production. What are the losses to Syria? What is the impact on the Syrian economy and society?

There are direct losses of $24.2 billion until the end of the first half of 2022. Among them, $18.2 billion result from extraction, smuggling and illegal trade in Syrian oil, gas and mineral resources under the auspices, protection and support of the US forces illegally present in Syria. $3.2 billion result from sabotage and theft of facilities for the extraction and transportation of Syrian oil, gas and mineral resources by armed terrorist groups, and $2.8 billion result from bombing and aggression carried out by the forces of the so-called illegal "international coalition" on the Syrian oil and gas facilities.  

The indirect losses totaled $82.9 billion which represents the values of lost Syrian production of crude oil, natural gas, LNG, various oil derivatives, and mineral wealth. The decline in production of planned rates within the framework of normal working conditions, came as a result of the crimes of sabotage, destruction, theft and illegal trade, which are being committed by armed terrorist groups and separatist armed groups that exist and are active in the areas of oil, gas and mineral resources fields, under the cover of the illegal American forces occupation.  

The US aim of stealing Syrian oil is to cut Syria from its own oil. While we used to export electricity to Jordan and Lebanon, now we don't have the oil to generate electricity. We were sufficient in gas. Now gas is a treasure for Syrian families that need about 70 days to change a gas cylinder. It's real suffering. In winter nights, the temperature is always minus in many parts of Syria. It's really cold. We don't have the heating oil, and we don't have the electricity to use for heating and cooking.

The losses are not about wealth. Syria is now importing. Instead of using your own, you are buying at the international market price. The Americans and their agents were also burning crops so that the Syrians don't have it. 

GT: Where did the oil theft begin? Can Syria stop it? What can other countries do to stop the US from stealing oil?

If you wait for Western media to write about this crime, just look for the past seven years, there is hardly any coverage. In fact, Syria raised the issue repeatedly with the UNSG and the presidencies of the UNSC. But we are grateful to friendly countries such as China and Russia and many other friends, that expressly called on the US to stop their robbery of Syrian national wealth and asked the US to recompense the Syrian people their stolen national wealth. 

I don't think the US feels ashamed of what it is doing, even if what they are doing is a replay of what ISIS did before. The way to stop them is when truth becomes more public knowledge. 

Syria is a strategically independent country, and does not accept dictates from other countries. They want Syria to be an agent country of them. Syria seeks friendships with all countries of the world, based on mutual respect of national interests, and the principles of international laws, dialogues in the light of the day. We don't have anything to hide. What we have is the confidence that we will be winning in the end.

GT: As far as you know, is the US stealing oil also happening in other Middle East countries?

I don't want to give examples, but we know the record of American invasions and wars all over the world. You don't need more evidence.

GT: The US military has deployed troops and military equipment in northeastern Syria, and the Pentagon claims that it is to prevent oil fields in the region from falling into the hands of terrorists. What do you think is the real purpose of the US military?

It's self-contradictory, because they are hosting the terrorists and training them. The US uses terrorism as a tool in its foreign policy. 

The Americans have their own agenda to reshape the region to fit their own interests. We really follow with amazement the US preaching of rules-based order in East Asia and other geographies, and compare their words with their deeds in the Middle East. It is hypocrisy of high caliber. Just look at the US policy in the Middle East and you can tell the real implementation of this rules-based order - robbery, destruction, perpetual wars for more than 60 or 70 years. They have managed and succeeded in creating the most unstable region in the world.

It's totally immoral, but they are masters of ambiguity and with ambiguity and playing with semantics, the devil becomes an angel. This is what's going on not only in the Middle East, but also in other areas, even in East Asia. They call it constructive ambiguity, which cannot be more destructive.

GT: The US military presence in Syria has been for more than seven years. What is the attitude of the Syrian people toward US military presence?

How do you believe the Syrian people would look at the country that is starving them and destroying and stealing their national treasures? If you ask, how do you feel if you are facing the thief that is robbing your country of his treasures? For the US, it is an international game for hegemony, i.e to divide this country because we couldn't handle it. For them it is a game of high politics, but for the Syrians it is real suffering.

GT: You have worked in the Syrian embassy in the US, and you have also worked in the Syrian embassy in China. In your opinion, what are the differences between China's diplomatic philosophy and that of the US?

There is in no way you can compare. There is a country that looks for peace, grew up after one century of humiliation from the same countries that we suffer humiliation from and arose peacefully and achieve economically and scientifically, and has its own deep civilization. It throughout its history never invaded anybody or any country. I don't think there is any country that achieved more added value like China. Tradesmen came to China to buy Chinese products. 

Let me sum up for you in a simple story how you would feel. During my stay I worked on the Congress, there was a bill against Syria that passed as "Syria Accountability Act." Congressmen we met then said that the bill is not related to Syria-US relations, it is internal US politics. So countries are used as bargaining chips to settle internal US scores.

There is hope for Syria and all developing world, which is the rise of Asia, and China in particular. What will change is the changing dynamics in international relations and the rise of civilizations. This will make the civilized area much wider. We hope that certain Western countries cope with the changes peacefully and learn from other civilizations how hard their people work, how to have deep memory and respect your grandfathers. That is what we wish they learn from Asia in general, and China in particular. It is high time hegemon stops being the free-rider of the equation of losers and winners of WWII. We are looking for a fairer, more representative world order built on multipolarity, which is being shaped now.