On Wednesday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had proof that Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan and his family were profiting from the illicit smuggling of oil from ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria. The allegations come after President Vladimir Putin earlier this week said Russian intelligence received confirmation that oil from ISIS-controlled fields goes through Turkey on an industrial scale.
Turkey’s “Senior Political Leadership” Involved
Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said in a Wednesday briefing in Moscow, “Turkey is the main consumer of the oil stolen from its rightful owners, Syria and Iraq. According to the information we’ve received, the senior political leadership of the country- President Erdogan and his family- are involved in this criminal business.”
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov; Source: eng.syria.mil.ru*
Antonov and other defense ministry officials displayed satellite images which they said revealed columns of oil tanker trucks loading with crude at ISIS-controlled installations in Syria and Iraq, and then crossing the border into Turkey. (Watch the entire briefing below.)
“What A Marvelous Family Business!”
The officials did not specify what exact evidence they held indicating that Erdogan and his family have been complicit in this illegal action.
Russian Defense Ministry officials at Wednesday’s briefing in Moscow; Source: eng.syria.mil.ru
Antonov then went on to reference the involvement of Erdogan’s family in Turkey’s energy sector. He said, “Maybe I’m being too blunt, but one can only entrust control over this thieving business to one’s closest associates…In the West, no one has asked questions about the fact that the Turkish president’s son heads one of the biggest energy companies, or that his son has been appointed energy minister. What a marvelous family business!”
He continued, “The cynicism of the Turkish leadership knows no limits. Look what they’re doing. They went into someone else’s country, they are robbing it without compunction.”
The Russian Defense Ministry also alleged that the same criminal networks that were smuggling ISIS oil from Syria and Iraq into Turkey were also providing equipment, weapons and training to the terrorist group.
Russia-Turkey Relations Sour
Relations between Russia and Turkey have further deteriorated since November 24, when a Turkey downed a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Russian border. Russia and Turkey are on opposite sides concerning the four-year Syrian conflict. Turkey supports the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad and has thrown its support (like the US) behind moderate opposition rebels. And Russia remains one of the few global players that supports the current regime.
Russia further angered Turkey in September when it launched its first air campaign in Syria. Turkey accused Russia of focusing the brunt of its attacks on moderate rebels rather than ISIS terrorists.
Erdogan’s Denials Become Louder & More Frequent
Erdogan has vehemently denied that Turkey procures oil from ISIS. He said the country is taking measures to prevent the smuggling of oil. In addition to challenging anyone who accused his government of working with ISIS to prove their allegations, he said Monday that he would resign if such proof could be proffered.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan
“We are not that dishonest as to buy oil from terrorists. 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],” TASS quoted Erdogan as saying earlier this week.
Watch Wednesday’s Briefing: