As is usually the case in theaters of combat, reality on the ground differs widely from the sharp and clear lines that are presented to uninformed outside observers.  Good case in point is the state of Syrian oil.  I am told by a well-informed source that the Syrian Democratic Forces led by the Kurds have been selling much of the oil in northeast Syrian territory they controlled until recently to the Syrian National Oil Company–the Assad government.

Some of that oil has also been sold to the Turks, who may be in turn shipping it by tanker truck to Iran and the Iranian are shipping it on to North Korea.

As we know, in the past, when ISIS controlled some of the Syrian oil, they were trucking it across the border to Turkey and selling it to Erdogan's minions at a steep discount.  the SDF has continued doing that.

Noteworthy that President Trump thanked Russia, the Syrian Government, Turkey and Iraq for their help in the tracking and killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  Questions:  What was the nature of the help?  Who gave overflight permission for the U.S. teams sent in to kill or capture al-Baghdadi.  Likely answers to these questions will remain classified for some time.  But again, it's worthwhile as a thought exercise to think through the operational requirements and details of this successful mission.  Was there a link between the Turkish assistance or silence and the lifting of sanctions announced just prior to the al-Baghdadi mission?


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  1. BraveNewWorld says:

    >”Some of that oil has been sold to the Turks, who may be in turn shipping it by tanker to Iran and maybe even on to North Korea.”
    So Iran risked the start of the great ME war to get a tanker to Syria so they could ship oil back to Iran? Those tanker lines that Daesh was running into Turkey were done with the blessing of the US. It was the resistance and in particular Russia that blew all that up. And what does Iran need oil for? They are going to give hard currency which is in very short supply to Turkey when they have more than they can sell right now?

  2. turcopolier says:

    What Harper meant to say is that some of the oil goes by tanker TRUCK from Turkey to Iran. The oil thus trans-shipped to Iran is sold on as refined product to North Korea. The Turks have been getting it at a very cheap prices from the SDF The Iranians add these products to domestic production shipped east.

  3. Babak Makkinejad says:

    So, an oil-swap deal?
    Just like the currently defunct gas-swap deal that used to obtain between Iran and Turkmenistan a few years back.
    Kurds and Turks acting like middlemen; how very Middle-eastern!

  4. JP Billen says:

    The SDF/SNOC oil deal was negotiated by Russia 18 months ago. The SDF does NOT sell the oil to the SNOC. Under the Russian deal, they get a share of the oil. The rest is turned over to a broker from Raqqa who transports it in tanker trucks to Baniyas and Homs refineries.
    If any oil is being diverted to Turkey, the it is the Raqqa brokers doing so. They are the reportedly the brokers that used to deliver ISIS oil to Turkey via Erdogan’s son-in-law.

  5. turcopolier says:

    JP Billen
    “The SDF does NOT sell the oil to the SNOC. Under the Russian deal, they get a share of the oil.” A distinction without a difference.

  6. JP Billen says:

    True! But it was a deal negotiated by Russia with full agreement of Assad and his government and the SNOC. My understanding is also that they did not choose the middleman from Raqqa. Apparently he was the only one with tankers and with drivers who had no problem driving through areas controlled by SDF, other areas controlled by SAA, and a few risky areas where Daesh hijackings were a possibility.

  7. oldman22 says:

    Russian Defense Ministry publishes evidence of US oil smuggling from Syria
    The Russian Ministry of Defense has published satellite intelligence images, showing American oil smuggling from Syria.
    According to the ministry, the photos confirm that “Syrian oil, both before and after the routing defeat of the Islamic State terrorists in land beyond the Euphrates river, under the reliable protection by US military servicemen, oil was actively being extracted and then the fuel trucks were massively being sent for processing outside of Syria.”

  8. turcopolier says:

    a crock. The Russians are doing this because our neocon and Israeli driven policy has made them want to take revenge against us.

  9. turcopolier says:

    oldman 22
    The KKK was a White Supremacist organization in its second incarnation in the 20s. The evangelical message was subordinate to the Supremacy doctrine. The first KKK during reconstruction included Jewish members. ISIS is a specifically salafi group that seeks to create what it imagines the theory and practice of Islam was in its first hundred or so years. Their doctrine and practice mirrors what it thinks the practice of Islam was then. Al Qaida wants to do the same thing but they are rivals in that goal. Cole has unfortunately become an apologist for these groups. Idlib Province contains pockets of both groups as well as other jihadi groups. They often fight each other.

  10. oldman22 says:

    So do you think the Russian story is untrue, and photographs are fake?
    Please understand, I mean to ask, not to express any opinion.

  11. turcopolier says:

    We know that oil was exported from east of the Euphrates to Turkish middlemen by ISIS. There were lots of satellite photos of that. The Obama Administration would not allow USAF bombing of these obvious long lines of trucks with oil barrels on them. Their reasoning was that they did not want to damage local infrastructure in Syria and Iraq. This was discussed extensively on SST. The Russians are choosing to interpret this data to claim that we were sponsoring the exports because they are understandably angry with us. We have and extensive archive on SST that has a search engine.

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