“We don’t believe the Americans support Daesh, but it is true that most people are saying they do, and they are right to believe that the Americans should be doing much more than they are. It’s because America is so slow that most people believe they are supporting Daesh.”
That’s from Naseer Nouri, a spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. Nouri was commenting to The Washington Post in regard to a story about how in the eyes of most Iraqis, the US is “in cahoots” with ISIS (read our take here). Here is what we said in response to the quote shown above:
“If it walks like a duck Mr. Nouri..”
Well it appears as though Naseer is set to take that to heart when it comes to Moscow’s contention that the Turkish government is complicit in the trafficking of illegal ISIS crude.
In the wake of a Russian Ministry of Defense presentation which detailed Islamic State’s oil smuggling operation and its link to Turkey, Nouri told Russian media today that if Vladimir Putin delivers on his promise to provide evidence of Erdogan’s involvement in the illicit trade, Baghdad will file a complaint with the UN Security Council.
Here’s what Nouri told Sputnik:
"If the Iraqi government receives enough evidence and details, without any hesitation it will file a protest at the UN Security Council and all other relevant international bodies,"
"General information about the smuggling of Iraqi oil by trucks to certain countries, including Turkey is already available. This oil is used to fund Daesh."
"There is evidence, satellite photos and security services’ reports which confirm that Daesh smuggles oil to Turkey."
Bear in mind that Iraq is already hypersensitive to the smuggling of crude oil into Turkey. Iraq's November oil exports rose to a record 100.945m bbl in November, generating some $3.67 billion, but Baghdad received no oil from the Kurds during the month even as the KRG produced 636,153 b/d. That crude is piped straight to the Turkish port of Ceyhan and from there generally ends up in Israel and God only knows where else. This isn't an arrangement Baghdad is particularly thrilled with (read more here) and so the idea that in addition to what's "lost" to the Kurds, ISIS is also skimming from Iraq's oil and selling it via Turkey is simply not acceptable.
Underscoring that sentiment is Asem Jihad, the press attaché of the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, who also spoke to Sputnik on Wednesday (Russian media is loving the MoD presentation hype), and who says that Iraq will ask the Security Council to establish committees tasked with investigating anyone and everyone involved with the smuggling of illegal crude from Iraq and furthermore, Baghdad expects the international community to brand anyone found to be involved, "a criminal." Here's the quote:
"The US Security Council is requested to form committees to put in effect the previously adopted resolutions on smuggling. According to said resolutions, all involved in these activities, be they individuals, companies or states, will be branded as criminals."
Meanwhile, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said at a briefing that while the US can't deny that illegal oil is trafficked across the Turkish border, Washington can say that the Turkish government is not complicit in Islamic State oil smuggling.
So that's the official word from Washington as of now, but as we said earlier this week, "when it comes to criminal conspiracies, the guy who gets caught first usually ends up getting cut loose," so we'll see if the US stands by Ankara once the Security Council (which, you're reminded, includes Russia and China) starts taking a closer look at just who is involved in getting Islamic State crude to Ceyhan.