The connection of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan΄s family with the oil smuggling of the “Islamic State” is revealed after Wikileaks΄ revealing of emails from the Turkish energy minister, and Erdoğan΄s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak. Albayrak΄s emails seem to confirm the not-so-recent accusations, since the energy minister is appealing to be the “unofficial” owner of the oil company Powertrance which is importing oil from the Isis΄ land in Northern Irak to Turkey.
by Thanos Kamilalis
At the end of September 2015 a Turkish Marxist hacking organization, Red Hack, claimed that it has access to almost 20 gigabyte of data from Albayrak’s personal email accounts. Information and articles regarding the email’s content began to go online, however the Turkish justice system decided against the publication and reproduction of the emails, thus implying their authenticity. The newest accusations that the Turkish government -and, specifically, members of Erdogan’s family- has an active role in the oil smuggling from areas that are controlled by the “Islamic State”, were between the most important subjects that were temporarily released. The leaking of all the emails from the Turkish energy minister by Wikileaks seem to confirm these allegations.
The accusations against the Turkish government -and most specifically, Albayrak- became even more intense after the shooting down of the Russian aircraft by the Turkish forces on the 24th of November 2015. As well as imposing sanctions to Turkey, Russia also accused Erdogan and his family of involvement in the oil smuggling. In order to support those accusations, Russia delivered satellite images which reveal the routes of the oil from the ISIS grounds to Turkey. A similar research was conducted by the ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway and came to the conclusion that the oil transported from the “Islamic State’s” territories to Turkey is sold in low price. Meanwhile, the American government has also mentioned the ISIS’ oil ends up, through a process, in Turkey. The Turkish president vowed to resign if these allegations correspond to reality.
Albayrak’s emails do indeed prove the Russian accusations, and so do the various international media features which connected him to the oil smuggling. Albayrak appears to act as the unofficial consultant of the oil company Powertrans, which by law is the only oil company allowed to import and export oil to and from Turkey. In about 32 subjected Powertrans emails which he has received, he is asked for his opinion regarding the future actions of the company and his approval in matters such as the organization chart, and the hiring and wages of new executives.
Powertrans’ oil monopoly
The ownership of Powertrans is not clear. As World Policy analyzes, the equities of the company have weirdly “travelled” from Istanbul to Singapore and from there to the Virgin Islands. The published information suggests that the real owner of Powertrans is now Calik Holding, behind which stands Albayrak.
In spite of this fact though, the Turkish government has offered Powertrans the monopoly in oil importing and exporting, in a case which often reminds the “photographic” laws and amendments that are often met in Greece. In November 2011, the Turkish government voted for a law that bans every kind of oil transport in and outside of the country. In the same law, there was a provision of an exception if the oil transportation would serve the interests of the country. A few months later, Erdogan’s government decided to give the exclusive privilege of oil commerce to Powertrans, which he expanded by law, in 2014, by giving the company the monopoly as well.
In the leaked emails published by The Press Project’s official partner, Wikileaks, the connection between the turkish Energy minister , and Erdogan’s son-in-law, with Calik Holding and Powertrans seems rather clear. There are about 30 emails which Albayrak exchanges with Betül Yılmaz -officially the human resources manager of Calik Holding. In almost every conversation between them, the subject is clearly Powertrans, while Yilmaz is constantly asking for his approval in any company’s staff change, mentioning -for example- the planning of the organization chart, the future hirings and wages. The email exchange between Albayrak and Yilmaz lasts for three years, from 2012 until 2015. In another email, dated August 9th 2015, Albayrak talks with Ekrem Keleş who used to work for Calik Holding and is now a member of the staff of Powertrans, The two men discussed the marketing strategy of the company in Northern Iraq.
Perhaps the most strange result, regarding Albayrak’s relation to Powertrans, in the emails is found in a conversation of the Turkish Energy minister and his lawyer, Mustafa Doğan Inal. The two men talk ahead of a rebuttal statement regarding the relations between Albayrak and Powertrans. Doğan Inal had written that “my client has no longer any ties to the company” and Albayrak corrects him by writing “what is that supposed to mean? I never had any ties to the company!”. The rebuttal statement was going to be published in the end of 2015, while Albayrak denied his connection to the company again in October 2016, after the Redhack attack. There are of course tens of emails which mention the company and prove the opposite. However, given that any mentioning of Powertrans stop after the conversation with his lawyer about the rebuttal, there is a chance that Albayrak either pulled out of the company, or kept a distance from its management, under the pressure of the allegations.
Oil: Isis’ treasure
Although in the past weeks the reporting of international media mention that, due to its retreat, ISIS has -partially or totally- the control of important oil wells, for more than two years oils smuggling was the basic financing of this terrorist group. In 2014, The Guardian presented a graphic with the oil transporting routes, from the ISIS to Turkey, Iran and Jordan.
In October 2015, the Financial Times revealed that the average production of the ISIS’ oil was 34.000-40.000 barrels per day, which they sold for 20-45 dollars each. This meant that they had 1,5 million dollars daily income from oil, which was used to fund their fighters in military and terrorist operations. In July 2016, the Washington Post presented satellite photos and claimed that the “Islamic State’s” income from oil have decreased by almost 50% but remain high, at about 20 million dollars per month.
The route of oil from the ISIS-controlled oil wells to Turkey was revealed by satellite photos which were published by Russia in December 2015. According to Russia, the oil is transported by third routes.
The west route, which starts at the “capital” of the ISIS, Rakka, and goes through the camp of Azaz in the Turkish border. From there, the oil is transported -according to the Russian Defense ministry- to Reyhanli and then parts of it are channeled to the Turkish market while the rest reaches the Mediterranean via the ports of Iskenderun and Dortyol.
Another central route starts from Deir Ez-zour in Syria, goes through the Al-Qamishli area and from there to the Turkish town of Batman.
The third route, according to the Russian ministry, runs from Eastern Syria and West Iraq to the Southeastern corner of Turkey.
The photos and documents presented by Russia and the international Media show that ISIS’ oil ends up in various areas of Turkey and the only company that -based on the Turkish legislation- can realize this transportation is Powertrans. Until today, Albayrak and Erdogan refuse any relation to this company. The emails of the Turkish minister of Energy, prove the opposite.