In a shocking statement to the world press, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan claims that he has irrefutable proof that the Obama administration has been supporting ISIS and Kurdish rebels in Syria.
Erdogan held a press conference in Ankara this week, where he told reporters that “It’s very clear,” that the United States was supporting ISIS.
“They were accusing us of supporting Daesh,” Erdogan said, using the Arabic-language acronym for ISIS. “Now they give support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG, PYD. It’s very clear. We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos and videos.”
He is referring to allegations from a year ago that Turkey was funding ISIS by purchasing their stolen petroleum on the black market.
Under that scheme, ISIS militants were seizing oil from regions they had conquered in Iraq and Syria, and smuggling the oil to Turkey via thousands of petroleum trucks, where it was purchased by the Turkish government.
The oil sales were bringing ISIS three million dollars every day, at their high point. Russian airstrikes methodically destroyed some of the key supply routes, cutting ISIS oil revenue in half after just two months of bombing.
They laughed at me when I said to bomb the ISIS controlled oil fields. Now they are not laughing and doing what I said. #Trump2016
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2015
“Today, we are presenting only some of the facts that confirm that a whole team of bandits and Turkish elites stealing oil from their neighbors is operating in the region,” said Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov in 2015. He explained that the oil enters Turkish territories via “live oil pipelines,” consisting of thousands of oil trucks.
“According to our data, the top political leadership of the country – President Erdogan and his family – is involved in this criminal business.” said Antonov. He also charged that Turkey is the main buyer of all smuggled oil coming out of Syria and Iraq.
Russian airstrikes hit 32 oil complexes, 11 refineries, and 23 oil pumping stations, Rudskoy said, adding that the Russian military had also destroyed 1,080 trucks carrying oil products.
There is additional evidence that arms were provided in exchange for oil.
Up to 2,000 fighters, 120 tons of ammunition and 250 vehicles have been delivered to Islamic State and Al-Nusra militants from Turkish territory, according to Russian military sources.
Responding to the Russian allegations, President Erdogan has said that nobody had a right to “slander” Turkey by accusing it of buying oil from ISIS.
The United States quickly stepped in to defend Turkey against Russian allegations.
“We flatly reject any notion that the Turks are somehow working with ISIS. Preposterous. And really very, kind of ridiculous,” Steve Warren, Pentagon spokesman, said. He said that Turkey is “a great partner” to Washington in the fight against ISIS.
“They’re hosting our aircraft. They’re conducting strikes. They’re supporting the moderate Syrian opposition,” Warren explained.
Fast forward a year later, after a failed coup attempt, and President Erdogan is kicking at the hornet’s nest before Obama leaves office.
In making the charge that U.S. forces under Obama were arming radical Islamic terrorists, Erdogan adds more weight to President-Elect Trump’s allegations regarding Obama, Hillary, and ISIS. He also reveals a slippery nature – a willingness to engage in double-dealing.
Obama’s handling of ISIS was one of the primary issues of the Trump campaign. Again and again he pounded home the points that Obama, as Commander in Chief, had not only been weak and indecisive regarding ISIS, but that he had actively helped them grow stronger by providing arms and funding.
So Obama wants to bomb ISIS in Iraq & arm them in Syria? What is he doing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2014
As the American people watched Syria spiral into chaos, Trump’s words resonated more strongly.
In its eagerness to topple the Assad regime in Syria, the U.S. supported the guerilla insurgents who fought against the official Syrian army. It should be no surprise when they turn out to be some pretty bad guys.
Just as Hillary Clinton was hitting her stride as Secretary of State, the conflict escalated from civil disobedience to all-out war. Her successor John Kerry has done little to quell the fighting, and the war rages on today.
In the power vacuum that resulted from America’s failed leadership, Russian forces have stepped in to do the lion’s share of work in defeating ISIS and restoring government control of the country.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2016
But they have done so with Obama fighting them every step of the way, instead of acting as an ally to extinguish the threat of ISIS once and for all. President-Elect Trump has vowed that this will change as soon as he takes office.
Instead of treating ISIS as a reluctant bedfellow in the fight to oust Assad, Trump promises to work closer with Russia to crush ISIS first and foremost, before solving the other problems in the region.
At this point any new approach would be welcomed. The war has already claimed more than 400,000 Syrian lives, and displaced almost 5 million Syrians. It has triggered an international refugee crisis, which has burdened Europe with economic hardships and a ceaseless wave of brutal terror attacks.
Say what you will about Assad’s government, but much like we have seen in Libya and Iraq, a strongman is what’s needed to maintain authority in many Middle Eastern and Northern African nations. As soon as the iron-fisted leader is removed, all hell breaks loose, and it is no longer contained within national borders. We’ve seen this more than enough times for the lessons to sink in.
Is Turkey a reliable ally in the war on terror? That remains to be seen, but based on their past it is highly doubtful. They have a penchant for talking out of both sides of their mouths. President Trump will do well to cast a weary eye on Erdogan during any negotiations regarding Syria. He’s likely well ahead of the curve on Erdogan’s duplicity already.
It is unknown whether Turkey will produce their so-called proof of Obama’s dirty dealings, or if it is just another negotiating ploy.
One could argue that the U.S. foreign policy of supporting insurgent rebel groups to unseat democratically-elected leaders is a failure. It will be fascinating to watch the Trump Doctrine unfold across the Middle East, and see if a combination of bellicose militarism and masterful negotiation can win the battles that Obama lost.