Claim: Turkey involved in DAESH oil trade

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Claim: Turkey involved in DAESH oil trade

2015-12-17 03:35 GMT
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On 2 December 2015, the Russian Defense Ministry held a media briefing and accused Turkey of smuggling oil from ISIS

Defense Ministry of Russia held a media briefing on 2 December 2015.

On 2 December 2015, the Russian Defense Ministry held a media briefing and accused Turkey of smuggling oil from DAESH. 12 The Ministry claimed to have proof, and showed videos and a map of three main routes of the alleged smuggling. However, considering the facts, there are many problems with the allegations of the Russian Defense Ministry. Russia's speculations were rejected by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He defined the speculations as ‘slander’.3 Also the US, Germany and the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) rejected such allegations.

The map shown by Russia was not up to date as some areas in Syria like Afrin, Al-Hasakah, and Qamishli were shown as being under DAESH control, even though they are in fact currently under the control of the YPG (People's Protection Units). Regarding the allegation about the three oil routes, the following problems exist:

●     The first route takes oil produced at fields near the city of Raqqa in Syria to the town of Azaz on the border with Turkey and passes to the Turkish border city of Reyhanli. This road passes through Afrin, which is under the control of an enemy of DAESH - the YPG.

●     The second route takes the smuggled oil from Deir ez-Zor and carries to the Syrian border at al-Qamishli, then the oil is passed to the city of Batman in Turkey for refining. The problem here is that the refineries in Deir ez-Zor is under the control of the Syrian regime and Qamishli is held by the YPG. Between Qamishli and Batman there is no road. Further, the refinery in Batman is run by Turkish Petroleum Refineries (TUPRAS) and TUPRAS also made a statement denying such claims.4

●     The third route takes oil from eastern Syria and western Iraq into the south-eastern corner of Turkey. The KRG spokesman Safeen Dizayi dismissed Russian allegations that DAESH sells oil to Turkey through the Kurdish region. KRG’s energy commission head Serko Cevdet said, "The KRG exports its oil via pipelines and tankers to Turkey for sale to buyers around the world" and that the Russian satellite images showed tankers carrying oil from the Kurdish region to Turkey’s Port of Ceyhan. 5

There are also other problems with the videos shown by the Russian Defense Ministry. The vehicles displayed that are allegedly transferring oil and crossing the Turkish border are not oil tankers but trucking rigs with containers. It is logistically impossible to transfer oil with containers.67

In addition to these problems regarding Russia’s alleged ‘proofs’, many statements have been made denying the allegations of Russia. U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner rejected these allegations, saying: “There is no Turkish government complicity in some operation to buy illegal oil from the DAESH. We just don’t believe that to be true in any way, shape or form." 8

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Julia Mason also refused the allegations, saying, “We reject the premise that the Turkish government is in league with ISIL to smuggle oil. We have seen no evidence to support such an accusation.”9 

U.S. Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Adam Szubin said in a press briefing in the White House on 16 December 2015, “We don't see any evidence that the Turkish government is purchasing oil from ISIL”.10 

German Foreign Ministry deputy spokeswoman Sawsan Chebli said that there is no evidence to support Russia's speculations. "The Assad regime has received large amounts of oil from [DAESH]. We have evidence. We have indications showing that this is the case," she added.11 German newspaper Der Spiegel also refuted the claims of Russia by addressing various problems.12