Many observers say that ISIS militants enjoy targeted support of a number of countries, including Turkey. According to Turkish oppositional media, Bilal Erdogan, the son of Turkey’s President, and Berat Albayrak, his son-in-law, monitor flows of smuggled oil from regions of Syria captured by ISIS to bulk plants and refineries located in Turkey. However, up to now, most mass media has tried ignoring this subject. The Turkish leader rejects similar accusations, too. Nevertheless, there is the secret to very few people that Turkey has capitalized on the Syrian civil war rather well through rendering comprehensive assistance to various terrorist groups. More and more often one can hear that the 900 km long Turkish-Syrian border is the one which makes it possible for ISIS to exist and prosper.
Syrian Kurdish journalist Fehim Tastekin has long watched illegal sales of Syrian oil to Turkey. According to his story, ISIS has got many Syrian oil fields under its control and developed schemes of sale of hydrocarbons to Turkey even before the capture of Iraq’s ‘oil fields’. The volume of illicit sales in many Turkish border areas is so large that in some villages almost 80% of natives are involved in it. As a rule, the oil is transported from Syria to Turkey through do-it-yourself pipelines, made up of plastic small size pipes (with diameter of about 4 to 6 inches). Sometimes variations of the landscape’s level are used, and ‘black gold’ flows by gravity, but more often it is pipelined with the help of primitive pumps. The pipes are earthed at a shallow depth and extended to the nearest Turkish settlements.
When oil pumping begins on Syrian side, the ISIS representative sends a text message to a mobile phone of its Turkish ‘client’. The latter fills up his half-barrel cans and then sells the raw material at an average price of 1.25 Turkish pounds.
Sometimes the client does not block the flow of oil in time, and a few barrels are poured upon the ground. But nobody pays any attention to it as the oil comes very easy. This business is so much profitable that local residents can afford to buy Japanese pipe-laying equipment!
In case local authorities receive an order from Ankara, they begin to maintain a facade of violent activity in their ‘struggle’ against the illicit oil trade. But in reality they refrain from any actions, aimed at it as most of officials have strong links with this business, and some of them even directly support the islamists in Syria. There were several recorded cases when Turkish military had exhumed or cut handmade pipelines. But it seems to Syrian Kurds that they are on the contrary guarding them. And only the authorities of Hatay province in southern Turkey are actively fighting against oil smuggling. Here the army has not only blocked off oil traffic, but also stationed the checkpoints in the border areas. Overall, though Turkey’s government and border guards turn a blind eye to this problem.
Now ISIS exploits nearly six major oil fields in the occupied territories, namely in provinces of al-Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. Besaslan, the town on the Turkish-Syrian border, controlled by ISIS militants, is one of the key terminals on the route of smuggled materials’ delivery to Turkish refineries. There are no inhabitants here; they’ve long gone, being in flight from the war. According to conservative estimates only here, in Besaslan, extremists make $1 mil a day on sale of oil, produced in eastern part of Syria. And the discount ranges from 15 to 25 dollars per barrel, which is considerably cheaper than the real market value of oil. According to other sources, Besaslan is a drop in the bucket as the main oil transfer is run from other regions. Turkish independent journalists make no secret of the fact that oil and oil products are flowing into the country from everywhere, along the entire length of Turkish border, which is worth hundreds of millions dollars for ISIS and those people from Erdogan’s entourage, who cover illegal traffic of ‘black gold’.