Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged at Wednesday’s hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Islamic State is “pumping oil and selling it to the tune of a million dollars a day to fund its brutal tactics.”
But he was evasive when Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked Kerry who was buying the oil. “Who are they selling it to? Which countries are transiting…”
“We have raised with a number of countries in the region the question of how they could possibly be getting oil out of the country. It’s being smuggled out. And what — that’s part of the approach here is to deal… ” Kerry replied before Durbin interjected, “Through which countries do you believe it’s being smuggled out?”
“Well, it’s being smuggled out from the border countries of Syria, obviously, which means either through Turkey or through Lebanon or south…”
“Now, are they joining us in the effort to stop this smuggling?” Durbin asked.
“They are, but, obviously, Turkey has difficulties right now, has 49 hostages that are being held, and they’ve talked about that publicly,” Kerry responded. “And Turkey is — you know, we’ve had some conversations with them, and those conversations will continue.”
In January, the Telegraph reported that Bashar Assad was buying ISIS’ oil and funding the terrorist group. Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra already admitted last year that Assad was buying their oil from Deir Ezzor province.
And an opposition lawmaker in Turkey said his government is buying ISIS’ oil
Ali Ediboglu, a Republican People’s Party member of parliament representing a border region, told Taraf, “$800 million worth of oil that ISIS obtained from regions it occupied this year [the Rumeilan oil fields in northern Syria — and most recently Mosul] is being sold in Turkey.
“They have laid pipes from villages near the Turkish border at Hatay. Similar pipes exist also at [the Turkish border regions of] Kilis, Urfa and Gaziantep,” Ediboglu said. “They transfer the oil to Turkey and parlay it into cash. They take the oil from the refineries at zero cost. Using primitive means, they refine the oil in areas close to the Turkish border and then sell it via Turkey. This is worth $800 million.”
President Obama has had a close working relationship with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former priem minister who recently became president.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) asked Kerry at today’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing if we could bomb the oil fields or refineries to help deprive ISIS of its $1 million-per-day revenue.
“Um, I haven’t heard any objections,” Kerry responded before Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said he’d run out of time and could submit a more detailed answer to the committee in writing.
Kerry did hint, though, at the Assad-ISIS alliance: “We have evidence that Assad has played footsie with them.”