Moscow: Erdogan buys oil from the Islamic State. The reply: "Slander"
Ankara (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected the accusations laid by Russia, that he and his family benefit "directly" from the proceeds of oil traded on the sly with the Islamic State. Turkey’s President says Moscow claims - that Ankara is the largest buyer of crude oil produced in the areas under the control of the jihadists with proof of traffic - is "slander." Erdogan adds that, if the allegations are proven, he is willing to step down.
For days, the diplomatic and military tensions between Moscow and Ankara have been escalating following the shooting down of a Russian jets involved in the bombing of the militias of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria. The Russian aircraft is reported to have crossed over into the Turkish territory and, after several warnings (according to Ankara) and was hit. The Russian version says the jet was still in Syrian territory and received no warning messages from Turkey.
Now the clash between the two countries - which have strong economic and commercial ties – has begun a new chapter with Moscow blaming the highest political and institutional figure in Turkey of benefiting "directly" with his family from the traffic of jihadists’ oil.
Responding to the attack, President Erdogan said that "no one has the right to advance slander against Turkey, saying that Turkey is buying oil from Daesh [Arabic acronym for the IS]." However, he also added that he intends to work on relations with Moscow and calls for a calming of tension, a position already taken in the days after the shooting down of the Sukhoi-24.
The charges against Erdogan were made by the Russian deputy defense minister Anatoly Antonov who, during a press conference with the heads of the military authorities indicated Turkey as "the main consumer of stolen oil " in Syria and Iraq. He added that "according to available information" the highest level of leadership of the country including the President and his family "are directly involved in this criminal activity." Finally, he called for "a control of this theft".
In support of the allegations, the deputy defense minister Antonov showed satellite images that portray columns of trucks loaded with oil, crossing the territories of Syria under the control of the Islamic State and Turkey’s border.
An estimated 200 thousand barrels per day cross the territory, a quantity that allows jihadists to earn two billion dollars a year. In the opposite direction, there is instead the passage of weapons and vehicles from Turkey to Syria, which then end up in the hands of the jihadists.
Last week alone "2 thousand militants, over 120 tons of ammunition and about 250 vehicles" crossed Turkeys borders. Finally, the Russians claim to have shown only "part of the evidence" that proves its charges against Erdogan and Turkey.
The US government has also intervened in defense of its Turkish ally. However, a spokesman for the US State Department admitted that there has long been an ongoing controversy over oil transported illegally into Turkey from territories under control of the IS.
The US government, however, specifies that this traffic is the work of individuals and Ankara is cooperating actively with NATO allies to close its borders. "There is no evidence or indications – says the US official - in support of the allegations [Russian]." On the contrary, Washington claims it is the "regime" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Russia, "to buy oil produced by IS".