Kurdish forces agree to extend oil provides to Syrian authorities in trade for reopening of crossings

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The Syrian authorities closed the al-Tabqa, al-Hawra and al-Sabkha crossings within the countryside of Raqqa on March 21. The closure stopped civilians and business vans from passing between government-controlled areas in northeast Syria and people held by the Syrian Democratic Forces and led to a rise within the costs of foodstuffs, constructing supplies, medicines and medical tools within the SDF-controlled areas.

The closures look like supposed to strain the SDF to permit extra gas into regime-controlled areas which might be in a stifling gas disaster, as most oil wells are positioned within the space are beneath the management of the SDF. 

On April 4, the crossings had been reopened after the SDF agreed to provide oil to the regime-held areas. In return, the federal government agreed to permit the importation of meals, medical and different provides into the SDF-held areas. 

According to the understandings, the SDF will provide the government-held areas with 200 truckloads of oil per week, and business automobiles coming from the government-controlled areas to the SDF-held areas can pay a transit price of as much as 30% of the worth of products. Individuals getting into SDF areas fromgovernment-held areas can pay a price of 5,000 Syrian kilos  ($1.50). 

A supply within the Kurdish-led autonomous administration of north and east Syria informed Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity, “The areas that we control need produce and other food that can only be secured by importing them from neighboring areas, and after the Syrian regime closed the crossings, our areas became short on foodstuffs. As a result, the available products in the market were sold at higher prices since no one knew when the crossings would reopen. We contacted the Syrian regime to see why the crossings were closed in the first place. We were told that regime areas are suffering a fuel crisis after Iran could not supply it with oil due to the Suez Canal blockage.”

He mentioned, “After several rounds of negotiations, we reached an agreement on providing the regime-controlled areas with 200 oil tankers per week, to be transported by the Qatirji Company, at a price ranging between $3,240 and $3,960 per tanker that includes 180 barrels of oil, so that the price per barrel ranges between $18 and $22, depending on the quality of the oil. Fees were imposed on commercial goods as well as travelers. … More than 200 oil trucks owned by the Qatirji Company crossed through al-Tabqa crossing coming from the Rumaila wells toward the Homs refinery during the past two days.”

Hassan al-Nifi, a political analyst who writes for a number of native and Arab newspapers, informed Al-Monitor, “The crossings are the economic lungs of both the SDF authorities and the regime. The SDF seems to be in urgent need of outlets to sell its oil … and to supply its areas with food and vegetables. The SDF prefers to sell oil to the regime because it realizes the regime’s dire need for oil allows it to name its price.”

Nifi added, “The economic crisis that worsened after the Caesar Act entered into force has pushed the Syrian regime to seize any opportunity to secure its oil needs, as its areas are completely paralyzed amid the lack of fuel. However, this [understanding] will not solve the problem, nor will the regime-controlled areas fully recover from this crisis by importing oil from the SDF. The regime is also preparing for the upcoming harvest season in the next few months and is seeking to reach deals with the SDF to secure oil.”

Wael Olwan, a researcher on the Jusoor Center for Studies based mostly in Istanbul, informed Al-Monitor, “The regime closing and reopening crossings with the SDF-controlled areas comes in the context of political and economic extortion to obtain more financial and economic benefits under the auspices of Russia. The closure coincided with leaks about an agreement between Russia and Turkey to open crossings with the opposition-controlled areas in Idlib, which affected the SDF’s negotiating position, as it was forced to agree to the regime’s conditions in terms of the fees imposed, the number of trucks and the increase in the amount of crude oil [supplied to the regime].”

Olwan mentioned, “For a number of years now, the SDF-controlled areas have supplied the regime with oil, gasoline and agricultural merchandise along with massive quantities of {dollars} that circulation each day from the SDF areas to the regime’s, which helps the regime to bypass the US sanctions imposed on it beneath the Caesar Act. Despite this, the regime is effectively conscious that it’s a lifeline for the SDF, and if it doesn’t cooperate, the SDF will plunge into monetary and financial issues.” He said this understanding is simply an interim agreement, with each party realizing it needs the other at the moment.

About 30 tons of greens and perishable foodstuffs resembling cheese, cream and baked items went dangerous as 35 vans had been caught on the al-Hawra crossing in western Raqqa when the crossings had been closed. Several retailers had been pressured to promote their vegetable items as fodder for livestock within the Anbaj space, western Raqqa.

A truck driver in the SDF-held areas told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity April 6 after the crossings were reopened, “We were forced to pay large transit fees.” The trucker additionally mentioned that if the charges had not been paid, the house owners of the products would have suffered super financial losses.