One of the most disturbing and depressing aspects of the rise of ISIS is how it is able to finance itself through the sale of oil on the black market.
Back in October when I participated in the Georgetown Leadership Seminar I was appalled to learn from a former State Department official that the United States Government estimated that ISIS was making up to $15 million a day selling oil on the black market. The individual was making a presentation to the assembled group and almost casually mumbled the figure, in much the same way Sir Geoffrey Howe used to speak in the British Cabinet in a quiet, sheepish way to the consternation of Mrs Thatcher who would instruct him to speak up. The other participants and I looked at each other in disbelief as if we had misheard so I asked him to repeat what he had just said and project his voice for the benefit of the group. When it became clear it was indeed the sum of $15 million there was a collective gasp. Not willing to let go, I pressed him further on this and asked who it was that was purchasing the oil for refinement which was helping to fund the barbaric activities of ISIS. On this point he was very vague and stated it was a combination of «entrepreneurs» and «regional governments».
Anyone in the know on these matters understands that «regional governments» is a code for Turkey. Indeed, before I left for Georgetown, the lazy, incompetent and not very academically gifted muppets and puppets of the Whitehall security establishment were a flutter that the Turkish Government of the power crazed, mafioso mad man Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was helping to facilitate the sale and refinement of ISIS oil thus helping to fund the so-called Islamic State. Strangely, it has been well known to American and British intelligence agencies for a long time that the Turkish Government and Turkish companies and businessmen have been and are still involved with the purchase of oil sold from ISIS territory, but due to the barrel that Turkey has the EU over regarding the migrant crisis, they have been unwilling to call out those involved in such disgusting business, or to make any moves to shut down this illicit trade which is in violation of United Nations resolutions, not to mention any sense of morality. It has been left to the Russian Government to take tentative steps towards shedding a public light on this most disturbing and unsavory business.
Back in December 2015 Russian authorities at Moscow’s defense ministry released satellite images showing columns of tanker trucks loading up with oil at an installation controlled by ISIS in Syria, before crossing the border into Turkey unhindered and with no restrictions at the Reyhanli checkpoint. The Russian Defense Ministry even claimed that President Erdogan and his family have been directly profiting from the sale and refinement of ISIS oil in Turkey receiving kickbacks for waving through the ISIS shipments. It has been quite clear to international affairs observers since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011 that President Erdogan and his neo-Islamist Government have always viewed the Turkish Kurds and Syrian Kurds as a greater threat than ISIS and have used the crisis in Syria as an opportunity to clamp down even more brutally than before on its minority Kurdish population while directing efforts at combating the Syrian Kurds rather than ISIS in Syria.
What is more galling is that upon closer inspection it is quite clear who these «entrepreneurs» are in Turkey refining ISIS’s oil. There is, after all, only one company which has the capability to refine oil in Turkey and it’s owner and current Honorary Chairman was awarded a CBE by the British State in its corrupt honours sysrems, a hangover from the disgrace of the British Empire and a lynch pin of the English Apartheid Class System with some people needing ridiculous titles and post-nominals to make themselves feel important rather than being confident and secure in their own sense of self worth. Here I give a cheer to the likes of Jon Snow and John Cleese who refused such silly trappings and Jeremy Irons who recently said he would turn down a Knighthood if offered one.
Tüpraş is Turkey’s only oil refiner company, founded by the Turkish Government in 1983 and operating refineries with a total capacity to handle an annual 28.1 million tons of crude. Tüpraş operates four oil refineries, three of which process imported crude. The three are as follows:
• The Izmit refinery located in Izmit, north west Turkey.
• The Izmir refinery located in Aliagaon Turkey's central Aegean coast. Both the Izmit and Izmir refineries process crude from global markets delivered by tanker.
• The Kirikkale refinery at Kirikkale in central Turkey processes crude delivered to Turkey's Mediterranean oil hub at Ceyhan and transited to the Kirikkale refinery via a bespoke pipeline.
In 2005, a consortium of Koç Holding led by Rahmi Koç CBE and Shell bid over $4 billion to acquire 51% interest from the Turkish Government in Tüpraş. This was through a new joint venture company, EnerjiYatırımları A.Ş. The company’s shares were divided among the shareholders as follows:
• Koç Holding A.Ş. 75%
• Aygaz A.Ş. 20%
• OPET Petrolcülük A.Ş. 3%
• Shell Overseas Investment B.V. 1.9%
• Shell Company of Turkey Ltd. 0.1%.
Tüpraş controls all of Turkey’s refining capacity and owns 59% of the total petroleum products storage capacity; it also has a strong indirect downstream position through its shareholding in Opet. Rahmi Mustafa Koç was awarded by the British State a CBE (Companion of The British Empire) and is a well-known Turkish businessman and billionaire. He was born in 1930 in Ankara as the only son of one of Turkey's wealthiest man Vehbi Koç. Rahmi Koç CBE attended high school at Robert College in Istanbul after his primary education in Ankara. Rahmi Koç CBE then studied at the Johns Hopkins University in the US and received his BA in Industrial Management. His father Vehbi Koç transferred his chairmanship to his son on March 30, 1984. Rahmi Koç CBE retired from this duty on April 4, 2003 transferring his chair to his eldest son Mustafa Koç. Rahmi Koç CBE, however, is still currently Honorary Chairman of the Koç Holding with its 75% stake in Tüpraş.
It is somewhat curious that it has been left to the Russian Government, and not Washington or London; to call out Erdogan’s Turkey over its complicity in the purchase and refinement of ISIS black market oil. Perhaps the embarrassment of Turkey being a NATO member state, prospective EU member and a key player in resolving the European migrant crisis has led some in the United States and Britain to turn a blind eye and adopt a softly-softly approach. However, let us remind ourselves this oil transferred from ISIS controlled Syria to Turkey has been a key source of funding in ISIS’s barbaric campaign of murder and rape, torture and genocide, religious discretion and cultural vandalism. It is no good launching airstrikes against the oil fields in ISIS controlled Syria. That is after all the national property of the Syrian people and a vital resource and commodity which will be an important component in helping to get the country back on its feet once ISIS is crushed and Syria is put on a path towards a much needed peace and reconciliation. Instead, the American led Global Coalition against ISIS must come clean about what it knows is going on inside Turkey’s oil refineries and come down on the Erdogan Government and Rahmi Koç’s Tüpraş like one almighty ton of bricks to put an end to the shameful, indeed grossly immoral, exploitation of ISIS trafficked oil for financial benefit by «entrepreneurs» and Governments alike.
One step which would be most encouraging would be for the Cameron Government, currently embroiled in an offshore tax scandal, to come clean about the position of Mr Koç and if necessary strip him of his CBE. Indeed, the whole issue of the antiquated British Honours System will have to be examined. Too many cases are coming to light of people such as the serial sex offender and predator Jimmy Saville (awarded a Knighthood and OBE) or corrupt banker Fred Goodwin (awarded and later stripped of his Knighthood) being handed out «Honours» when in fact there is nothing honourable about such unsavoury characters. The British Empire ended a long time ago (thank god) and it is most certainly not something to be proud of or held up as a symbol of «Honour».