When a three star Russian general strolled into the US Embassy in Baghdad on September 30 of last year, US personnel were taken aback by what he said: “If you have forces in the area we request they leave. Airstrikes start in one hour.”
That was the beginning of Russia’s intervention in Syria and it took the US completely off guard. It was vintage Putin and even the Russian President’s detractors couldn’t help but chuckle. Over the next 30 days, a relentless air campaign carried out by Moscow’s warplanes rolled back anti-Assad elements in Latakia while the IRGC and Hezbollah moved into position for an assault on Aleppo.
Then, on November 24, disaster struck. Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 near the Syrian border. One of the pilots was killed.
In the hours after the plane crashed, the world held its breath. Putin, the West figured, would respond with force. Fears only grew when the FSA’s First Coastal Division published a video on YouTube that appeared to show a fighter using a US-made TOW to destroy a Russian search and rescue helicopter.
And then, just when it appeared that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was set to plunge NATO into a world war with the Russians and the Iranians, Putin did something no one expected. Instead of sending the long range bombers to Ankara, he addressed reporters while sitting next to Jordan’s King Abdullah and flatly said the following: "ISIS gets money by selling oil to Turkey."
Over the next two weeks, The Kremlin launched a relentless PR campaign complete with satellite images and detailed slide decks showing what the Russians claimed was unequivocal evidence of Erdogan’s complicity in the illicit (and highly lucrative) ISIS oil trade.
Sergei Lavrov and Maria Zakharova heaped on the pressure and before long, the entire international community began to look with skepticism upon Ankara’s contention that Turkey is as an eager and sincere partner in the “war” on ISIS.
By that time, we had of course documented the Turkey connection exhaustively in the following four-part series:
- The Most Important Question About ISIS That Nobody Is Asking
- Meet The Man Who Funds ISIS: Bilal Erdogan, The Son Of Turkey's President
- How Turkey Exports ISIS Oil To The World: The Scientific Evidence
- ISIS Oil Trade Full Frontal: "Raqqa's Rockefellers", Bilal Erdogan, KRG Crude, And The Israel Connection
In the fourth post listed above, we detailed the route by which ISIS transports illegal, undocumented crude to Turkey via Zakho-based smugglers and how that crude ends up at Ceyhan where tanker rates seem to mysteriously spike around ISIS-related oil events. All of this, we suggested, was done with the help of the Turkish government up to and including Erdogan's son Bilal who owns a shipping company that helps facilitate the transport and sale of oil from the KRG.
The Iraqi Kurds, we remarked, produce some 600,000 b/d of undocumented, technically illegal oil which everyone knows Turkey transports. Turkey can thus claim plausible deniability given that Islamic State production is but a fraction of that and given that once ISIS crude crosses the border from Iraq into Turkey, it's indistinguishable from KRG oil.
Lacking in all of this was hard evidence. Sure, Russia had video and images purporting to show oil tankers streaming across Turkey's highly porous border with Syria, but proving that the government in Ankara was directly involved, let alone buying the oil, was well nigh impossible. Now, RT has released a new documentary which, in addition to depicting official ISIS oil ledgers, features interviews with what the filmmakers say are captured ISIS fighters. You can watch the film for yourself below, but suffice to say, it delivers compelling evidence of Turkey's role in funding and supporting Islamic State:
Meanwhile, even CNBC is running segments implicating Erdogan and his son in the ISIS oil smuggling business and we have to say we're impressed: the network is only six months behind the curve this time. There's usually a 2-3 year lag. Watch below as House Democrat Stephen Lynch, Columbia's David Phillips and even Michelle Caruso-Cabrera indict Anakra in the court of public opinion.
Summing up all of the above in one picture...