IV. Iran-Iraq-Syria Pipeline and the South Pars Gas Field
One important point to note regarding the above map is that it predates the 2011 Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline deal, “a deal for the construction of the Middle East’s largest gas pipeline, which would transit Iranian gas from Iran’s South Pars gas field to Europe via Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea.” The signing of a defense agreement between Iran and Syria in 2006 had tied the fate of both these countries together – the agreement affirming that an attack on one, was an attack on the other – and foreshadowed the pipeline deal.
This agreement between Iran, Iraq, and Syria is the primary reason why Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been heavily funding the Syrian rebels:
“Saudi Arabia and Qatar are paying salaries to rebel forces fighting in the Syrian revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, an Arab diplomat said on Saturday. ‘The payment has been going on for months and the agreement was made on April 2  by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with logistical organization from Turkey where some Free Syrian Army factions are based,’ said the source, who requested anonymity. “
In 2009, Assad refused a proposal by Qatar to run a gas pipeline from Qatar’s North gas field “through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey”. Instead “Assad pursued negotiations for an alternative $10 billion pipeline plan with Iran”:
“The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline plan was a ‘direct slap in the face’ to Qatar’s plans. No wonder Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, in a failed attempt to bribe Russia to switch sides, told President Vladmir Putin that ‘whatever regime comes after’ Assad, it will be ‘completely’ in Saudi Arabia’s hands and will ‘not sign any agreement allowing any Gulf country to transport its gas across Syria to Europe and compete with Russian gas exports’, according to diplomatic sources. When Putin refused, the Prince vowed military action.”
The following three maps show the location of the Proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria Gas Pipeline – marked in yellow in the first and by a dashed line in the second – and the Location of the South Pars Gas Field – the big red patch right in the middle of the Persian Gulf, just north of Qatar. It is important to note that this is the largest discovered gas field in the world, dwarfing all others in comparison (see table below).