On Friday, Donald Trump made a claim about the conflict in Syria that baffled foreign policy and energy industry experts, according to a Bloomberg News report. Trump told reporters that the United States had “taken control of the oil in the Middle East.”
A video posted online this week, however, shows Russian mercenaries in control of a former U.S. military base in a major Syrian oil city, after Trump ordered the U.S. troops there to leave.
The statement echoed a tweet posted by Trump earlier on Friday, in which he claimed that the U.S. had “secured the oil.” But Trump did not elaborate on what he meant by the statements, except to add, “the oil that we’re talking about, the oil that everybody was worried about.”
Trump’s comment puzzled energy analysts and experts on the Middle East region, Bloomberg reported. Oil fields in northeast Syria contained about 2.5 billion barrels of oil reserves as of last year, according to the Bloomberg report, but how the U.S. would “control” that oil was unclear, with Trump ordering troops withdrawn from the region.
Prior to their defeat by U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, the Islamic State controlled most of the oil fields in Syria, selling the oil to finance their activities to Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Jordan at cut-rate prices — mainly channeling the oil through the Syrian city of Manbij, according to an Al-Jazeera report.
But on Trump’s orders, U.S. troops pulled out of Manbij on Tuesday, leaving the city to Russian and Russia-backed Syrian government troops, according to The Independent.
The Independent obtained video footage, seen below on this page, of Russian mercenaries occupying the abandoned U.S. military base in Manbij, an indication that Russia may now control the oil channeled through the city. The mercenaries are employed by the private security firm Wagner Group, according to a Business Insider report.
Wagner Group is owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch known as “Putin’s chef,” because he grew close to Russian President Vladimir Putin when he owned a high-end restaurant where Putin dined frequently.
Prigozhin’s name may be familiar to Americans, because he also owns the Internet Research Agency, the Russian “troll farm” that ran a massive social media fake news and propaganda campaign designed, according to special counsel Robert Mueller, to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election. Prigozhin was indicted by Mueller for his election interference activities, as The Inquisitr has reported.
Given Trump’s claim that he will order all U.S. troops to withdraw from Syria, his statement that American troops have “secured the oil” becomes additionally baffling, though as the Bloomberg report noted, the statement may indicate that Trump, in fact, plans to leave some troops in Syria after all.
Trump’s claim that Americans have now “taken control of the oil,” echoes a theme that he repeated often during his 2016 campaign for president when, as The Inquisitr reported, he advocated waging war against countries in the Middle East to “take their oil.” Crowds at his campaign rallies broke into chants of “Take the oil! Take the oil!” when Trump said that the U.S. should have seized Iraqi oil during the 2003 American invasion of that country.