US ‘found no involvement of Turkey in ISIL oil trade’

US ‘found no involvement of Turkey in ISIL oil trade’

US ‘found no involvement of Turkey in ISIL oil trade’

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The United States has not discovered any involvement by Turkey in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) oil trade, the country’s ambassador to Ankara has said.  

“As we work together between our governments to further investigate the matter, we were able to determine there was not, any longer, or on any scale, the kind of oil smuggling that we had feared was occurring, and we acknowledged that to the Turkish government,” John Bass, the U.S.’ envoy to Ankara, said Dec. 23 in a televised broadcast on private broadcaster NTV. 

“There were some initial indications that some of that oil was coming out through the Turkish-Syrian border,” he said. “The Turkish government took some important steps in 2014 and early 2015 to eliminate those small-scale smuggling efforts.” 

A Foreign Ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News on Dec. 16 that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Central Intelligence Agency had “apologized” to Turkey over allegations in 2014 about the oil trade between Ankara and ISIL.

Meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on the sidelines of a U.N. Security Council meeting in 2014, Kerry said they had information that Turkey was importing oil from ISIL, the source said, adding that Çavuşoğlu denied the claim at the time.

After requesting the document of the allegations in a number of meetings with Kerry, Çavuşoğlu was given a file that included information on coordinates in Turkey.

The file was then investigated by Turkish intelligence agencies, and Ankara determined that the coordinates belonged to an asphalt worksite of Kilis Municipality, on the border with Syria.

After this information was conveyed to the U.S., Kerry apologized and the CIA filed a written apology to Ankara, said the official.

Being asked whether or not the U.S. had apologized to Turkey, Bass said he “did not want to get deep into the communications between individual ministries in government.” 

“I’d just say, look, we acknowledged that some of the initial assessments that we had were either corrected or were off-target a bit,” Bass said. “And we constantly do that. We admit when we make mistakes. We often wish that some other governments would do so as well.” 

Commenting on the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), and its military wing, the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), forming cantons in northern Syria, Bass said the U.S. objects to such a plan. 

“The other goal we have had is to approach this problem set in Syria and to ensure we conduct military operations in ways that do not create a long-term strategic problem for Turkey, our NATO ally. That is an important reason why we do not support [and] have never supported, the connection of the so-called Kurdish cantons in Syria. That is why we do not support anyone on the ground changing demography or changing political governance structures unilaterally based solely on their military success against Daesh,” Bass said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL. 

Turkey and the U.S. stand on different sides when it comes to the PYD and YPG. While Turkey says they are terrorist organizations due to their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the U.S. regards the YPG and PYD as reliable partners on the ground against ISIL. 

Turkey objects to Syrian Kurdish forces joining their cantons as part of a federation in northern Syria.