The Turkish President, Tayip Erdogan, said that he will to resign if the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, proves that Turkey is buying oil from the oil fields controlled by ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The largest western newspapers have written that ISIS sells oil to everyone, even to its enemies i.e. Bashar al Assad in Syria. See for example Business Insider “ISIS is selling oil to the Syrian regime”, November 2015.
Besides, I would expect these sales to take place through agents, and therefore the buyer can even claim that he did not know from whom he was buying. Therefore I am sure that Turkey is also buying oil from the oil fields controlled by ISIS.
But if the oil of the Islamic State was the main reason that Turkey and Russia are fighting in Syria, Russia should have undisputed photographic material to make her case. Putin, except of accusing the son of Tayip Erdogan for buying oil from ISIS, he also said that there are so many trucks carrying the oil of the Islamic State to Turkey, that they form a moving oil pipeline. But if this is true where are the photographs supporting Putin’s claims?
After all, the Financial Times, and all major newspapers, estimate the oil revenue from all the oil fields controlled by ISIS to 1,5 to 2 million dollars per day. See for example Financial Times, “Inside Isis Inc: The journey of a barrel of oil”. That means an annual income of 700 million dollars in oil revenue for ISIS. That’s a huge amount for a terrorist organization, and a huge amount for a businessman like Bilal Erdogan, but it is peanuts when compared to national incomes. For example, only from oil exports, Russia received 415 billion dollars in 2013. See Forbes “Russia’s Oil Industry Is Doing Fine, Which Is Great News For The Kremlin”, January 2013.
Therefore, without ignoring the importance of illegal oil trade in Syria and Iraq, the main reason that Turkey and Russia are fighting in Syria is Syria’s great geostrategic importance. It is up to Syria to decide whether the Sunni pipeline i.e. Qatar-Turkey, will be constructed, avoiding at the same time Kurdistan, and it is up to Syria to decide whether the Shiite Pipeline i.e. Iran-Iraq will reach the Mediterranean Sea, thus bypassing Turkey. Both of these pipelines hurt Russia, since Russia’s main market is Europe. But obviously the Sunni Pipeline hurts Russia a lot more. See also “Who is Responsible for the War and the Immigrants”.
That’s where the big money is, that’s what the war is about. Peanuts do play a role but they are just peanuts. You can have fights for peanuts but you don’t have global wars for peanuts.
Map 1 Sunni-Shiite Pipelines
For the articles see:
“Turkey’s Erdoğan Vows to Resign If Putin Proves ISIS Oil Claims”, December 2015
“Russia’s Oil Industry Is Doing Fine, Which Is Great News For The Kremlin”, January 2013
“ISIS is selling oil to the Syrian regime”, November 2015
“Inside Isis Inc: The journey of a barrel of oil”