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Israel businessman working with army has his eye on Syria oil

July 17, 2019 at 3:33 pm

A view of an oil field in Syria, 19 July 2018 [Adnan Alhusen/Anadolu Agency]

An American-Israeli businessman has been granted permission to export oil extracted from Kurdish areas under the control of Syria’s pro-Washington Democratic Forces. Arab news sources have cited Moti Kahana as the person charged with facilitating the sale of crude oil produced in oil fields controlled by the Kurds in eastern Syria to Israel.

Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, which published the story said its claim was based on leaked documents. Kahana however has swiftly came out to reject the story but admitted to Israel Hayom that he has in fact tried to end Syrian oil sales to Iran. On his Facebook page, Kahana wrote that he opposes the Iranian presence in Syria, which he says belongs to the Syrian people.

The leaked Al-Akhbar document contained a letter from the joint president of the Executive Committee of the so-called Democratic Syria Council which is said to have authorised Kahana to represent the Council on all matters related to the sale of Syrian oil in areas controlled by Kurdish militias.

The United States has given strong backing to the Kurdish groups in its fight against Daesh forces, angering Turkey, which considers these militias a terrorist group.

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Explaining his presence in Syria, Kahana told Israel Hayom: “It’s important for me to explain that I do not serve any side in this story because I have one goal – for Syria to be democratic, free and live in good neighbourliness with Israel. I don’t serve Israel, I am an American citizen, but everyone can benefit from this.”

His remarks to the Israeli daily did however suggest that Kahana at least sees himself as having a vital role in the export of Syrian oil if he hasn’t been granted permission already. “The moment the Trump administration gives its approval, we can begin to export this oil at fair prices, and to use it to build and defend democratic Syria, push Iran and ISIS [Daesh] out of the country and usher in progress and democracy,” said Kahana.

A profile of Kahana by the Israeli American Council describes him as “philanthropist who has donated considerable money and time providing support for the Syrian opposition.” It also says that he works in “tandem” with the Israeli army and in “recovering ancient Jewish artifacts, including Torah scrolls in danger of destruction, from synagogues in Syria.”

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