December 03, 2019

The Madcap Scheme to Take Syria's Oil

Featuring Peter Harrell

Source: Reason

Journalist Matthew Petti

A retired Army intelligence officer, a successful Kurdish-American businessman, a former Syrian diplomat, and an eccentric entrepreneur from New Jersey met in January over food and drinks to discuss a vexing problem: what to do with Syria's oil.

U.S. troops were guarding the largest oil field in eastern Syria, and in February 2018 they had fought a bloody battle with Russian mercenaries to keep it. But under U.S. sanctions law, no American could invest in or trade Syrian oil, leaving the black gold either untapped or in the hands of smugglers. Mordechai "Moti" Kahana, an Israeli-American rental car tycoon turned philanthropic adventurer, had a plan: He could get a green light from the Trump administration to trade Syria's oil for humanitarian aid.

Read the full story and more in Reason.


  • Peter Harrell

    Former Adjunct Senior Fellow, Energy, Economics and Security Program

    Peter Harrell is a former adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He is a leading expert on U.S. economic statecraft, including sanctions, export cont...