US connived with Islamic State’s oil trade


M. K. Bhadrakumar

Nov. 28, 2015


The latest crackdown by the Turkish President Recep Erdogan on two prominent personalities in the country’s print media underscores his acute sensitivity over the cascading allegations regarding Ankara’s covert support of the Islamic State (IS). The stakes are high for Erdogan, since, according to the grapevine, some very powerful people close to the president make tons of money out of selling the oil dispatched to Turkey by the IS. It must be a double whammy for anyone doing business with the IS’ oil, because with the money generated through oil sales, the terrorist group procures weapons via Turkey. No wonder, Turkey shot down the Russian strike aircraft targeting the northern Syrian border region through which the IS convoys reach Turkey.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin made some extensive remarks to the media on Friday regarding Turkey’s nexus with the IS in oil trade. At one point, he finger-pointed at Turkey for being “mentors” of the IS. Putin said:

  • At the G20 summit, which took place in Turkey as it happens, in Antalya, I showed a photograph… taken by our pilots at a height of 5,000 metres. Vehicles transporting oil made a long line that vanished over the horizon. It looks like a living oil pipeline. These are industrial-scale oil supplies coming in from parts of Syria now in the terrorists’ hands… We see from the air where these vehicles are heading. They are heading for Turkey day and night. I can imagine that perhaps Turkey’s senior leaders are not aware of this situation. It is hard to believe, but theoretically, it is possible.
  • This does not mean that the Turkish authorities should not attempt to put an end to this illegal trade. The UN Security Council passed a special resolution that bans direct purchase of oil from terrorists, because these barrels coming in are filled not just with oil but with our citizens’ blood, and because terrorists use the money from this trade to buy arms and munitions and then carry out bloody attacks.
  • If the Turkish authorities are destroying this oil, why do we not see smoke from the fires? Let me say again that this is oil supply on an industrial scale. You would need to build entire special facilities to destroy this oil. Nothing of this sort is taking place. If Turkey’s senior leadership is not aware of the situation, let them open their eyes to it now.
  • I would be willing to believe that some corruption and shady deals might be involved. Let them sort out just what is going on there. But there is absolutely no question that the oil is heading for Turkey. We see this from the air. We see that loaded vehicles are heading there in a constant stream and returning empty. These vehicles are loaded in Syria, in territory controlled by the terrorists, and they go to Turkey and return to Syria empty. We see this every day. (Transcript).

However, the really shocking thing is that the United States didn’t move a little finger so far to stop IS’ oil business. If the Russian pilots could spot the IS convoys stretching for miles heading for the Turkish border day in and day out, how could the lone superpower’s satellites have missed it? Of course, the Obama administration damn well knew. But it chose to look away. Period.

Just think of it: IS has killed American nationals and yet the Pentagon has been ordered to handle the IS with kid gloves! President Barack Obama waxes eloquently about his determination to “degrade and destroy” the IS, but the Pentagon is under instructions not to disrupt the IS’ oil trade! This is cold-blooded statecraft. Obama probably knows all about the Turkish elite’s flourishing business, but then, he has uses for Erdogan, too. Simply put, the regime change agenda in Syria got precedence over cutting off the IS’s funding sources.

Yet, the Obama administration sounded enthusiastic about the UN Security Council resolution, which was unanimously passed in February, making it obligatory for the US to take steps to prevent the extremist groups in Iraq and Syria from benefiting from trade in oil. Taking part in the discussion, US ambassador Samantha Power even bragged that because of actions of the coalition against ISIL, securing resources had become harder for it and the resolution would help cut off further sources of funds and help end the ongoing brutality of the group. (UN News).

This brings attention back to the robust Russian (and French) efforts currently to form a broad international coalition under the UN auspices to fight the IS. Clearly, Obama wants neither Russia nor the UN in his Clausewitzean war in Syria. (See my article in Asia Times Obama has uses for Turkey-Russia tensions.)


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