Experts: Turkey might be tried for financing ISIL, arms trafficking

Tensions between Turkey and Russia have been running amok over the past few days, as on Tuesday NATO’s second largest army the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) downed a Russian Su-24 jet near the Syrian border, after repeatedly warning it over airspace violations.

Moscow blames Turkey and has set about bolstering its military presence in the region, dispatching several S-400 air defense systems to bolster its Khmeimim air base in Syria’s Latakia province. The Kremlin is also determined to punish its one-time friend with economic sanctions such as refusing to buy poultry from Turkey and ordering Russian tourists not to visit the country.

However, the biggest damage Turkey may incur in the fallout of the fallen jet may come after the statements made by Russian leaders, which claim that they will take the issue of ISIL’s financial avenues to the UN Security Council — and that may cause Turkey a much-unneeded headache.

President Vladimir Putin called the downing of the jet a stab in the back administered by “the accomplices of terrorists,” referring to Turkey and ISIL.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov echoed Putin, when he said on Wednesday that the Turkish action came after Russian planes successfully targeted the oil infrastructure used by ISIL.

More importantly, Lavrov alleged that Turkey benefited from the oil trade and said Russia will ask the UN Security Council to examine information on how terrorists are financed.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defied those claims on Thursday saying, “Those who claim we [AK Party] have brought petrol from Daesh [the Arabic term for ISIL], are required to prove their claims, otherwise I will call them [Russian leaders] slanderers.”

This is not the first time Turkey has been accused of intermediating ISIL’s oil. In July a senior Western official claimed that information gathered at the compound of Abu Sayyaf, ISIL’s officer responsible for oil smuggling operations, pointed to high-level contacts between Turkish officials and high-ranking ISIL members, according to a report by the UK-based Guardian newspaper.

Turkey, which only started to take an active part in the international coalition against ISIL, reluctantly, and after two years, has also been accused of turning a blind eye to the crossing of militants into Syria to join ISIL, if not openly facilitating militants’ border crossings to join ISIL in Syria.

While giving voice to veiled criticisms of Turkey’s dubious dealings with ISIL, Western officials had refrained, until very recently, from directly critiquing Turkish authorities. Russia’s recent disclosures indicate that Turkey may be the target of international scrutiny.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN

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