Putin: Turkey Is Buying Oil From ISIS.
Discussing the matter during the Paris climate change summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow intelligence confirmed that oil from fields controlled by the terrorist organization is transported to Turkey.
“At the moment we have received additional information confirming that oil from the deposits controlled by Islamic State militants enters Turkish territory on industrial scale,” Putin said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was also in attendance at the Paris climate change talks and denied Putin's accusations, saying that the country does not cooperate with the group, aka ISIS. Erdogan said the countries from which Turkey imports oil are "well-known."
“We are not that dishonest as to buy oil from terrorists," Erdogan told the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union. "If it is proven that we have, in fact, done so, I will leave office. If there is any evidence, let them present it; we’ll consider [it]."
Iraqi former National Security Adviser Mowaffak al Rubaie accused Turkey Sunday of there being more than $800 million worth of oil purchases on the black market in the country.
"This is Iraqi oil and Syrian oil, carried by trucks from Iraq, from Syria, through the borders to Turkey and sold ... [at] less than 50 percent of the international oil price,” al Rubaie told RT News.
While at the conference, Putin reiterated his belief that it was not necessary for Turkish air force to shoot down the jet Nov. 24. He also acknowledged the faulty relationship between the two countries.
"Problems do exist, and they emerged a long time ago, and we have been trying to resolve them in dialogue with our Turkish partners,” he told RT News.
No steps were taken Monday to resolve matters between the countries; Putin confirmed the two leaders did not meet privately.
World leaders are gathered near Paris for a series of talks between 195 countries regarding climate change. The summit will run until Dec. 11.
Smugglers on the Turkish side of the border often do not know whether they are buying oil from IS sources. As Tolga Tanis, a Washington-based Turkish journalist, noted, “Oil changes hands so quickly that buyers do not know that they are getting oil that originates from IS.” In addition, as Tastekin reported, smugglers in Hacipasa, a Turkish village near the Syrian border, “prefer to think of the Free Syrian Army, not IS, as benefiting from the trade.”
The key question is how much of an illegal trade is there? The New York Times cited experts who placed the figure “at $1 million to $2 million a day.” Speaking to Al-Monitor, a presidential adviser who preferred to remain anonymous dismissed this claim. He said, “This is impossible. A barrel of oil would be sold for about $50 on the black market. This means 400,000 barrels of oil a day passing illegally from Iraq or Syria to Turkey. Yet, such an amount is impossible to carry by any of the smuggling methods, such as hoses, trucks or mules. There is indeed smuggling on the Turkey-Iraq and Turkey-Syria borders, but certainly not at these levels.”
The official also noted that such large amounts of oil could only be in the form of crude oil, but none of the two refineries in Turkey, at Tupras and Aliaga, could process smuggled oil. Concerning the broader picture, he said that the rise of IS confirmed Turkey’s earlier warnings to the West: The Free Syrian Army did not get the support it deserved in the earlier phase of the conflict, and this mistake paved the way for the rise of more militant groups, such as IS.
The bottom line is that while IS oil sales via the Turkish border is a real problem, it is not something condoned by the Turkish government, as emphatically noted by Energy Minister Taner Yildiz in a press conference. Turkey’s Western allies would be wise to approach Ankara with an understanding of the nuances involved and aim for more cooperation, rather than blaming Ankara for things that are beyond its full control.