A new report by the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute emphasises the need for “US security and military support” to its key allies in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly Israel, over access to recent vast discoveries of regional oil and gas.
The Army study, released earlier in December 2014, concludes that extensive US military involvement “may prove essential in managing possible future conflict” in case of “an eruption of natural resource conflict in the East Mediterranean,” due to huge gas discoveries in recent years.
Visible US engagement is also necessary to ward off the regional encroachment of “emerging powers and potential new peace brokers such as Russia – which already entertains a strong interest in East Mediterranean gas developments – and notably China.”
Fossil fuel bonanza in the Levant
Since 2000, the Levant basin – an area encompassing the offshore territories of Israel, Palestine, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon – has been estimated to hold as much as 1.7 bn barrels of oil and up to 122 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas. As much of the region’s potential resources remain undiscovered, geologists believe this could be just a third of the total quantities of fossil fuels in the Levant.
The new US Army report argues that these hydrocarbon discoveries are of “tremendous economic and geostrategic significance,” not just for its allies, but for the United States itself. Israel especially stands to “gain considerably from their newly discovered gas wealth” in terms of cost-effective energy for domestic consumption and revenues from gas exports.
But while the discoveries offer the prospect for closer regional cooperation, they also raise “the potential for conflict over these valuable resources.” The potential for resource conflicts over oil and gas relates directly to intractable border conflicts between Israel, the Palestinians, Lebanon and Syria, as well as the unresolved Cypriot question between Greece and Turkey. US interests are to minimise the risk of conflict between its core allies, while maximising their capacity to exploit these resources.
Continue Reading Article By Nafeez Ahmed: US Army report calls for ‘military support’ of Israeli energy grab