A $500 million per annum spigot for Washington's frenemies left open
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — ISIL has been reliant on funds raised from selling crude originating in oil-rich Iraq. Last year, they captured the country's largest oil refinery in Baiji. The Iraqi military reportedly retook the facility earlier in October.
In February, the Pentagon claimed that oil was no longer the main source of ISIL funds. US officials said that Islamists were now more likely to rely on donations and a "black market program."
"[The secret trade continues] because they're not trying," former Canadian government official Patrick Armstrong told Sputnik.
Armstrong explained part of the problem was that US policies on fighting the Islamic State were being shaped by officials in the White House and the State Department rather than experienced intelligence officials.
Clandestine oil smuggling continues to flourish "because it’s not US Intelligence that's in charge, but people at State [Department] and the White House," he added.
Former CIA counter-terrorism expert and whistleblower John Kiriakou told Sputnik on Thursday that he too believed US policymakers had not given sufficient importance and priority to combatting the Islamic State oil smuggling.
Kiriakou also said he believed the main route for the Islamic State’s oil exports appeared to be through Turkey.
Elements of the Turkish military, he noted, may have been bought off to support the trade even though Turkey is a US ally and NATO member.
Executive Intelligence Review Senior Editor Jeff Steinberg told Sputnik that US reluctance to act forcefully against the oil smuggling routes through Turkey reflected the complexity of US relations with Turkey and the Kurds.
"The Obama administration has created a no-win situation by forging a ‘coalition’ with some of the major states backing [the Islamic State], including Turkey and Saudi Arabia," Steinberg said.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is expected to win reelection in the next general election on Sunday, is benefitting from the secret trade through the country on behalf of the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, Steinberg maintained.
"The AKP is virtually financing its desperate election campaign on the basis of black market business dealings with ISIS [Islamic State] and the Nusra Front," he said.
Steinberg noted the Turkish military has also intervened against the Kurds on behalf of the Islamic State and the Nusra Front to keep the oil transporting routes operating.
"When the Kurds in Syria began moving to cut off the main transit routes between Turkey and Raqqa, the Turkish Air Force started bombing the Kurds to keep the logistical lines between Turkey and [the Islamic State] open," he said.
On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told senior newspaper editors in an interview that he was determined to wipe out the terrorist Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and any forces involved with it.