The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has condemned “in the strongest terms” a reported deal between a US oil company and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The ministry described the agreement as theft and struck by “robbers and thieves”. It went on to say that the deal was an assault on Syria’s sovereignty and continued US aggression towards the country. Turkey has also criticised the move.
Senator Lindsey Graham, referencing a discussion he had with the SDF’s Mazloum Kobani, last week asked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo whether he was supportive of the deal with the US company. “We are”, said Pompeo. “The deal took a little longer than we had hoped, senator, but now we’re in implementation.”
Graham said the agreement would “be a great way to help everyone in northeast Syria”. The exchange took place on July 30, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Syria did not name the US oil company involved. Al-Monitor has reported unnamed sources naming the company as Delta Crescent Energy, registered in Delaware.
The US has imposed sanctions on doing business in Syria. The report claimed Delta Crescent had a licence from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
The Syrian ministry went on to say the deal between the company and the SDF was null and void, with no legal effect.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry also came out against the deal. Ankara flagged up the links between the SDF with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a separatist group in Turkey, and the YPG.
This deal “has clearly demonstrated [the SDF’s] ambition to advance its separatist agenda by seizing the natural resources of the Syrian people. The natural resources of Syria belong to the Syrian people,” said Turkey.
The move by the US to support this agreement disregards international law, violates territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Syria, Turkey said. The deal also should be considered as falling “financing terrorism. This act, which cannot be justified by any legitimate motive, is utterly unacceptable.”
The Iraq Oil Report has named three businessmen, John Dorrier, Jim Reese and James Cain as being behind Delta Crescent Energy.
Dorrier was the founder of Gulfsands Petroleum, which holds the suspended Block 26 in Syria’s northeast. Dorrier sold his stake in Gulfsands in 2009.
Reese retired from the US military in 2007, where he had reached the role of Lieutenant Colonel for Delta Force. He went on to establish TigerSwan, a North Carolina-based security company. The company has said Reese is no longer associated with it.
The US appointed Cain to serve as the ambassador to Denmark in 2005. Following this appointment, he returned to Kilpatrick Townsend, co-founding of the law company’s Raleigh office. Cain has not responded to requests for comment.
An October 2019 article in the Washington Examiner put forward the case for a US company to develop Syrian oil. The article, based on a discussion with Reese, noted the three men had filed an application with the US government on working there.