World View: Russia Accuses Turkey of ‘Industrial Scale’ Oil Purchases from Islamic State

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russia accuses Turkey of ‘industrial scale’ oil purchases from ISIS
  • Russia escalates retaliation against Turkey for downing warplane
  • European Union to end visa restrictions on Turkey’s citizens

Russia accuses Turkey of ‘industrial scale’ oil purchases from ISIS

Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on November 16 (AP)
Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on November 16 (AP)

On Tuesday, after the Russian warplane was shot down by Turkey, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin said:

ISIS has big money, hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, from selling oil. In addition they are protected by the military of an entire nation [i.e., Turkey]. One can understand why they are acting so boldly and blatantly. Why they kill people in such atrocious ways. Why they commit terrorist acts across the world, including in the heart of Europe.

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev alleged on Wednesday that Turkish officials were benefiting from ISIS oil sales, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it was no secret that “terrorists” use Turkish territory.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin on Thursday renewed his accusation that Turkey’s officials were “accomplices of terrorists” for supporting the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has furiously denied such accusations of several occasions.

At a news conference on Thursday, Putin said that Russian spy planes had witnessed trucks carrying “industrial scale” amounts of oil from ISIS sources crossing the border from Syria into Turkey. He said it was “theoretically possible” that Ankara was unaware of oil supplies entering its territory from ISIL-controlled areas of Syria but added that this was hard to imagine.

According to Putin:

Turkish authorities should destroy the oil [coming from ISIS], but we do not see the smoke from the fire in the destruction of oil. I repeat, we are talking about an industrial scale amounts.

Erdogan furiously denied the charges:

Shame on you. It’s clear where Turkey buys its oil and gas … Those who claim we are buying oil from Daesh like this must prove their claims. Nobody can slander this country. I would call them liars [if they do]. If you are seeking the source of weaponry and financial power of Daesh, the first place to look is the Assad regime and countries that act with it.

Most analysts agree that Turkey is not buying oil directly from ISIS, but it is possible that some distributors are buying oil from ISIS and selling it in Turkey. Russia Today and Reuters and APA (Azerbeijan) and Guardian (London)

Russia escalates retaliation against Turkey for downing warplane

Russian and Turkish leaders on each side refused to apologize, but demanded apologies from the other side.

Russia has not declared war over Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane on Tuesday, but is taking a number of hostile steps just stopping short of war.

The forces of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad intensified the shelling and bombing of Turkmen villages in Syria. As we described two days ago, the Turks wish to protect Turkmen rebels in Syria for the same reason that Russia says that it wants to protect ethnic Russians in occupied east Ukraine and Crimea. Russia defended the bombing of Turkmens on Thursday by claiming that they’re terrorists, although that description could just as easily be apply to the Russian separatists in Ukraine.

In addition to accusations that Turkey’s officials were “accomplices of terrorists” and that Turkey was buying oil from ISIS, Russia says that it will adopt a set of economic sanctions having to do with trade, transport, and tourism:

  • Big energy projects, including a gas pipeline and cooperating in building Turkey’s first nuclear plant, may be canceled.
  • Civilian flights to and from Turkey will be limited. In addition, tourism to Turkey will “obviously” be curtailed, because of the danger of terrorism.
  • Food safety checks on agricultural imports from Turkey will be increased. Every shipment will now have to be inspected, which will result in substantial delays.

As we wrote earlier this week, Turkey and Russia have had centuries of bloody, genocidal generational crisis wars with each other, and there is certainly a new one on the horizon. ( “25-Nov-15 World View — Turkey shoots down Russian warplane, evoking memories of many Crimean wars”) However, there is tremendous international diplomatic pressure to keep the current situation from spiraling into war, so it is hoped that there will not be a war at this time. But with Turkey and Russia on opposite sides of the crises in Ukraine, Crimea and Syria, it is clear that no simple band-aid will fix the current problems. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Today’s Zaman (Istanbul)

European Union to end visa restrictions on Turkey’s citizens

Ever since Russia’s warplane was downed, it has been easy to forget that Turkey is involved in at least one more major international crisis: the refugee crisis in Europe. There are still thousands of refugees each day, mostly from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, crossing into Turkey, across the Aegean Sea, into Greece.

The refugee crisis has overwhelmed Europe, and the recent terror attacks in Paris have raised terrorism alert levels in several countries.

As we described a month ago, the crisis has forced the EU to reopen and take seriously negotiations for Turkey to join the European Union. ( “20-Oct-15 World View — As winter approaches, thousands of European refugees may be trapped in the cold”)

A European Union draft document is expected to be released on November 29, with some of the following terms:

  • October 2016 will be set as a target date for visa exemption for Turkish citizens. (I believe that this means that Turkish citizens will be able to enter the EU without a visa, which makes sense when you consider that a million or so migrants this year have entered the EU without a visa.)
  • Turkey will control the flow of refugees from Turkey into Europe.
  • The EU will supply 3 billion euros at the start, to be increased later, to help Turkey support the 2 million refugees that Turkey is currently hosting, mostly from Syria.
  • For the first time, Greek and Turkish Cyprus will be merged, and Turkey will recognize Greek Cyprus.

Hurriyet (Ankara)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Turkey, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Dmitry Medvedev, Ukraine, Crimea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Greece, European Union, Cyprus
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