Saturday, November 28, 2015
Vance Davis and Bill Pawelec
New Energy Source
Disclosures From Bill Pawelec
Once upon a time, “Black Friday” was a major event in the United States. Yes, the mainstream media is still endlessly hyping it up, and major retailers are still rolling out their “incredible deals”, but it appears that most Americans are tiring of this particular gimmick. Or perhaps it is just that U.S. consumers don’t have as much discretionary income as they once did. As you will see below, retail traffic this Black Friday was “much, much slower” than anticipated. And expectations were not great anyway – the number of shoppers was down last year, and it was being projected that there would be another decline in 2015. Yes, there were still a few fights on Black Friday, but mostly the “holiday” was marked by giant piles of unsold merchandise sitting around collecting dust. The inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has surged to levels not seen since the last recession, and so the truth is that most retailers were hoping for much more contrived chaos on Black Friday than we actually witnessed.
Personally, I wish that this whole phenomenon would just simply disappear, because it definitely doesn’t bring out the best in the American people.
Who wants to see fellow citizens trampling one another and fighting with one another for cheaply made electronics that aren’t even manufactured in this country anyway?
Black Friday was always a disgusting spectacle, and now it appear to be fading.
Let’s start with Thanksgiving sales. More stores than ever are opening on Thanksgiving Day itself, and according to SunTrust that was a total “bust” this year…
We believe Thanksgiving shopping was a bust. We note that traffic seemed below last year both on- and off-mall. Members of our team who went to the malls first had no problem finding parking or navigating stores. Crowds were tame and, with some exceptions there seemed to be more browsing than buying and less items purchased. We heard many people discussing that deals were not that compelling compared to years past. Interestingly, many retailers closed at midnight- which contributed to a sharp decline in traffic shortly thereafter. Off-mall, members of our team visited Walmart and Target for the openings and had no problem finding parking. Customers at both were focused on electronics. Lines, even early, were about half of what they were last year and quickly dissipated. The only off-mall big box retailer we visited with consistently long lines and customers making multiple item purchases was Kohl’s — where buys were focused on deals not available online.
Once Black Friday rolled around, things didn’t get any better. For example, one analyst said that traffic at the Mall of America didn’t “look much busier than an average Saturday morning”…
At the Mall of America in Minneapolis, the largest in the country, Edward Yruma, managing director at KeyBanc Capital Markets, said he’s seeing less traffic than years past as well. He was there from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. last night and arrived again at 8 a.m. this morning.“It doesn’t look much busier than an average Saturday morning,” said Yruma.
And in North Carolina, retailers saw “much less traffic than was anticipated”…
Jeff Simpson, a director at Deloitte Consulting LLP’s retail practice, surveyed shopping centers in North Carolina and saw smaller crowds than expected for Black Friday.“Across the board, much less traffic than was anticipated,” he said. “Much, much slower.”
Of course this wasn’t much of a surprise. A global recession has already begun, and investors were dumping retail stocks ahead of Thanksgiving in anticipation of a horrible shopping season. The following comes from the New York Post…
Wall Street, fearful that consumers are running out of cash heading into the crucial Christmas retail season, are selling off retail stocks and everything else sensitive to consumer spending.
So why are consumers running out of cash?
Well, it is because the middle class is dying, poverty in America is explodingand the cost of living continues to soar.
Just look at what is happening to healthcare costs. It turns out that employees that work for medium and large companies in the U.S. are now paying more than double for health insurance than they were a decade ago…
Employees of midsize and large companies in 2015 paid an average of $4,700 for their health insurance, up from $2,001 in 2005, according to recent analysis from Aon Hewitt.
For much more on how the cost of living is absolutely crippling families all over this nation, please see my previous article entitled “Inflation Is Crushing The Middle Class“.
Meanwhile, things continue to get worse around the rest of the globe as well. The number of unemployed job seekers just hit a brand new record high in France, Puerto Rico is on the verge of a major debt default, and on Friday there was an absolutely massive stock market decline in China…
In China, equities saw a significant sell off as a result of investigations by the Chinese securities regulatory body into several brokerages for breaking regulations. The Shanghai Composite closed 199 points, or 5.48 percent, lower; the Shenzhen Composite closed 6.1 percent lower, the Chinext was down 6.1 percent, and the CSI300 Index saw a decline of 5.38 percent.Chinese brokerages took major hits, with Citic Securities, Founder Securities, and China Merchants closing 10.1, 10, and 9.98 percent lower after news broke that the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has launched investigations into these firms to weed out short selling and speculation.
I hope that you enjoyed this Thanksgiving as much as you possibly could, because all of the underlying economic numbers are absolutely screaming that hard times are ahead.
This year, Americans are going to spend an average of $130 on “self-gifting” and more than $800 on the holiday season overall. People are spending money that they don’t have on things that they don’t need, and meanwhile very few of us are actively preparing for what promises to be a very challenging 2016.
So yes, let us enjoy the time that we have with our families, but let us also not be completely oblivious to the huge changes that are literally happening all around us.
Credit to Economic Collapse
At this point, is there anyone that still doesn’t know that ISIS is selling hundreds of millions of dollars of stolen oil in Turkey? As you will see below, this is very much an open secret, but the mainstream media in the United States is being strangely silent about this. Why? Well, because if the truth came out Turkey would have to be kicked out of NATO and Barack Obama would probably be facing impeachment proceedings. He claims to be fighting ISIS, and yet an endless parade of trucks carrying oil that ISIS has stolen goes back and forth over the Turkish border with his full knowledge and approval. Barack Obama is very much aware that Turkey is buying oil from ISIS and he refuses to do anything about it. If the Republicans are looking for a scandal which could completely wreck Obama’s presidency and essentially secure the 2016 election for them, this is it.
Do you want to know why the Turkish government ordered the shooting down of a Russian Su-24 bomber on Tuesday?
It is because the Russians have been bombing the trucks that transport oil from ISIS into Turkey.
The Turks claim that the Russian aircraft violated their airspace for approximately 17 seconds. But as Paul Craig Roberts has pointed out, in order for the SU-24 to fly only 1.15 miles in 17 seconds would mean that it was flying at stall speed the entire time, which is ridiculous. Clearly there is something very fishy with the official story, and the Russians say that they never violated Turkey’s airspace at any time.
But no matter who was right and who was wrong, normally countries go out of their way to avoid an international incident. Instead, it appeared that the Turks were quite eager to shoot down the SU-24, and since that time Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has refused to apologize. In fact, he has warned Russia “not to play with fire” and he insists that it is the Russians that need to apologize…
“Those who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologize. Our pilots and our armed forces, they simply fulfilled their duties, which consisted of responding to … violations of the rules of engagement. I think this is the essence.”
Is he insane?
What in the world would cause Erdogan to behave so irrationally?
Well, the truth is that Erdogan has been very upset these days because the Russians have been interfering with the illegal oil smuggling that his family has been conducting.
One of the ways that Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded to the downing of the SU-24 has been to drop “truth bombs” on Turkey. Just check out some of the comments that he made this week following a meeting with French President Francois Hollande…
Commercial-scale oil smuggling from Islamic State controlled territory into Turkey must be stopped, Putin said after meeting Hollande in Moscow.“Vehicles, carrying oil, lined up in a chain going beyond the horizon,” said Putin, reminding the press that the scale of the issue was discussed at the G20 summit in Antalya earlier this month, where the Russian leader demonstrated reconnaissance footage taken by Russian pilots.The views resemble a “living oil pipe” stretched from ISIS and rebel controlled areas of Syria into Turkey, the Russian President stressed. “Day and night they are going to Turkey. Trucks always go there loaded, and back from there – empty.”“We are talking about a commercial-scale supply of oil from the occupied Syrian territories seized by terrorists. It is from these areas [that oil comes from], and not with any others. And we can see it from the air, where these vehicles are going,” Putin said.
If the Russians can see this very clearly, do you think that the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence agencies can see this too?
Of course we can. We have even better surveillance capabilities than the Russians do.
Without a doubt, Obama knows exactly what is going on.
The SU-24 was shot down over an area that is used to transport ISIS oil into Turkey. This is a point that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been careful to highlight. The following comes from Sputnik News…
Lavrov also pointed to Turkey’s role in the propping up the terror network through the oil trade.“The Russian Minister reminded his counterpart about Turkey’s involvement in the ISIS’ illegal trade in oil, which is transported via the area where the Russian plane was shot down, and about the terrorist infrastructure, arms and munitions depots and control centers that are also located there,” the statement read.“Sergei Lavrov specifically said that this act by Turkey will have serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relations and will not go unanswered.”
It would be one thing if everyone was just finding out now that ISIS is selling oil in Turkey.
But the truth is that this has been known about for quite a long time.
For instance, the U.S. uncovered “undeniable” evidence that Turkey was buying oil from ISIS back in July…
Western officials have long harbored suspicions about Turkey’s links to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh. One official told The Guardian’s Martin Chulov in July that a US-led raid on the compound housing ISIS’ “chief financial officer” produced “undeniable” evidence that Turkish officials directly dealt with ranking ISIS members, mainly by purchasing oil from them.
So why didn’t Barack Obama do anything about it?
Why has he continued to allow oil trucks to go back and forth between ISIS and Turkey “day and night” ever since then?
We have clearly been betrayed by Obama. Even our top military commanders know what is happening. Just this week, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark went on television and admitted that oil from ISIS is “probably going through Turkey”…
Asked whether he agreed with Vladimir Putin that Turkey was aiding ISIS, Clark responded, “All along there’s always been the idea that Turkey was supporting ISIS in some way,” before going on to accuse Ankara of funneling ISIS terrorists through Turkey and buying ISIS’ stolen oil in the black market.“Someone’s buying that oil that ISIS is selling, it’s going through somewhere, it looks to me like it’s probably going through Turkey,” said Clark, before also going on to accuse Putin of supporting terrorists through his allegiance with Bashar Al-Assad.
So why is Barack Obama completely silent about this?
And it isn’t as if the Turkish government is just turning a blind eye to what is going on.
No, the truth is that the Turkish president’s own son is the one buying and exporting the oil. The following comes from Sputnik News…
Turkey downed the Russian Su-24 Fencer bomber over Syria in response to the destruction of hundreds of semi-truck oil tankers sent to Turkey from Syria by the Islamic State, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said.The information minister said that oil smuggled into Turkey was bought by the Turkish president’s son, who owns an oil company.“All of the oil was delivered to a company that belongs to the son of Recep [Tayyip] Erdogan. This is why Turkey became anxious when Russia began delivering airstrikes against the IS infrastructure and destroyed more than 500 trucks with oil already. This really got on Erdogan and his company’s nerves. They’re importing not only oil, but wheat and historic artefacts as well,” al-Zoubi told RIA Novosti in an interview.
It is Bilal Erdogan that is the head of the company that is buying oil from ISIS, and he is shipping much of it to Japan. BMZ Ltd. is described as a “family business”, and many of President Erdogan’s “close relatives” hold shares in the company. The following is an excerpt from an excellent article by F. William Engdahl…
The prime source of money feeding ISIS these days is sale of Iraqi oil from the Mosul region oilfields where they maintain a stronghold. The son of Erdogan it seems is the man who makes the export sales of ISIS-controlled oil possible.Bilal Erdogan owns several maritime companies. He has allegedly signed contracts with European operating companies to carry Iraqi stolen oil to different Asian countries. The Turkish government buys Iraqi plundered oil which is being produced from the Iraqi seized oil wells. Bilal Erdogan’s maritime companies own special wharfs in Beirut and Ceyhan ports that are transporting ISIS’ smuggled crude oil in Japan-bound oil tankers.Gürsel Tekin vice-president of the Turkish Republican Peoples’ Party, CHP, declared in a recent Turkish media interview, “President Erdogan claims that according to international transportation conventions there is no legal infraction concerning Bilal’s illicit activities and his son is doing an ordinary business with the registered Japanese companies, but in fact Bilal Erdo?an is up to his neck in complicity with terrorism, but as long as his father holds office he will be immune from any judicial prosecution.” Tekin adds that Bilal’s maritime company doing the oil trades for ISIS, BMZ Ltd, is “a family business and president Erdogan’s close relatives hold shares in BMZ and they misused public funds and took illicit loans from Turkish banks.”
Does Barack Obama know all of this?
Of course he does.
Our intelligence agencies would have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to have uncovered all of this by now.
The president of Turkey’s own family is working directly with ISIS, and Obama is doing nothing.
In fact, President Erdogan’s own daughter is even helping to provide “extended medical care” for wounded ISIS militants in Turkish hospitals…
A discontented nurse working clandestinely for a covert medical corps in Şanlıurfa—a city in south-eastern Turkey, close to the border with neighboring Syria— divulges information about the alleged role which Sümeyye Erdoğan plays in providing extended medical care for ISIS wounded militants transferred to Turkish hospitals. Living in a dilapidated apartment in Istanbul’s outskirts along with her two children, a 34-year- old emaciated nurse who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, disclosed her seven-week agonizing ordeal of working in secret military hospital in Şanlıurfa, 150 km (93 miles) east of Gaziantep and 1,300 km (808 miles) southeast of Istanbul. “Almost every day several khaki Turkish military trucks were bringing scores of severely injured, shaggy ISIS rebels to our secret hospital and we had to prepare the operating rooms and help doctors in the following procedures.”
Clearly, the Turkish government is on the same side as ISIS. It has also been documented that ISIS fighters have trained in Turkey and that the Turkish government has been funneling weapons into Syria.
But desperate attempts have been made to keep this information away from the public. In fact, two Turkish journalists that were working to expose the funneling of weapons into Syria have just been arrested and could be facing life in prison…
Two journalists from an opposition Turkish newspaper have been arrested, accused of spying by an Istanbul court following reports that Turkey’s intelligence agency sent weapons to Islamist rebel groups in Syria.In another case of journalists facing criminal charges and censorship, editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, the newspaper’s Ankara bureau chief, were taken into custody on Thursday night, Turkish media reported.The two men are accused of spying and “divulging state secrets”, according to reports, as well as being members of a terror organisation. Another charge included the violation of state security after the release of the footage.Such charges could see the men face life imprisonment.
And the Turkish government even got Joe Biden to apologize for comments that he made that exposed Turkey’s role in supplying the jihadists in Syria. The following comes from CNN…
“They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world,” Biden told students.“We could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them,” he said.On Turkey’s alleged role, Biden said, “President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan told me, he’s an old friend, said, ‘You were right. We let too many people (including foreign fighters) through.’ Now they are trying to seal their border,” he said, according to transcripts.
Biden later “apologized” for saying those things, but were they true?
Of course what Biden said was true.
The government of Turkey desperately wants to see the Assad regime toppled, and so they are training ISIS militants, funneling weapons to them, buying their oil, and tending to their wounded in Turkish hospitals.
This is being done with the full knowledge and complicity of the Obama administration, and it is a betrayal on a level that is almost unspeakable.
Once again, if the Republicans are looking for a scandal that could destroy Obama’s presidency and deliver the 2016 election into their hands, this is it.
Sadly, just like on so many other occasions, the Republicans will probably find a way to fumble this football too.
But the American people deserve to know the truth. Please share this information with as many people as you can on Facebook, Twitter and through email. If we can get enough people screaming bloody murder about this, perhaps we can get someone in the mainstream media to take notice of what potentially could be the scandal of the century.
Credit to End of the American Dream
Over the course of the last four or so weeks, the media has paid quite a bit of attention to Islamic State’s lucrative trade in “stolen” crude.
On November 16, in a highly publicized effort, US warplanes destroyed 116 ISIS oil trucks in Syria. 45 minutes prior, leaflets were dropped advising drivers (who Washington is absolutely sure are not ISIS members themselves) to “get out of [their] trucks and run away.”
The peculiar thing about the US strikes is that it took The Pentagon nearly 14 months to figure out that the most effective way to cripple Islamic State’s oil trade is to bomb... the oil.
Prior to November, the US “strategy” revolved around bombing the group’s oil infrastructure. As it turns out, that strategy was minimally effective at best and it’s not entirely clear that an effort was made to inform The White House, Congress, and/or the public about just how little damage the airstrikes were actually inflicting. There are two possible explanations as to why Centcom may have sought to make it sound as though the campaign was going better than it actually was, i) national intelligence director James Clapper pulled a Dick Cheney and pressured Maj. Gen. Steven Grove into delivering upbeat assessments, or ii) The Pentagon and the CIA were content with ineffectual bombing runs because intelligence officials were keen on keeping Islamic State’s oil revenue flowing so the group could continue to operate as a major destabilizing element vis-a-vis the Assad regime.
Ultimately, Russia cried foul at the perceived ease with which ISIS transported its illegal oil and once it became clear that Moscow was set to hit the group’s oil convoys, the US was left with virtually no choice but to go along for the ride. Washington’s warplanes destroyed another 280 trucks earlier this week. Russia claims to have vaporized more than 1,000 transport vehicles in November.
Of course the most intriguing questions when it comes to Islamic State’s $400 million+ per year oil business, are: where does this oil end up and who is facilitating delivery? In an effort to begin answering those questions we wrote:
- The Most Important Question About ISIS That Nobody Is Asking
- Meet The Man Who Funds ISIS: Bilal Erdogan, The Son Of Turkey's President
Turkey's role in facilitating the sale of Islamic State oil has been the subject of some debate for quite a while. From "NATO is harbouring the Islamic State: Why France’s brave new war on ISIS is a sick joke, and an insult to the victims of the Paris attacks", by Nafeez Ahmed:
"Turkey has played a key role in facilitating the life-blood of ISIS’ expansion: black market oil sales. Senior political and intelligence sources in Turkey and Iraq confirm that Turkish authorities have actively facilitated ISIS oil sales through the country. Last summer, Mehmet Ali Ediboglu, an MP from the main opposition, the Republican People’s Party, estimated the quantity of ISIS oil sales in Turkey at about $800 million—that was over a year ago. By now, this implies that Turkey has facilitated over $1 billion worth of black market ISIS oil sales to date."
Here's what former CHP lawmaker Ali Ediboglu said last year:
“$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. 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.”
Earlier this month, Ediboglu told Russian media that "ISIL holds the key to these deposits and together with a certain group of persons, consisting of those close to Barzani and some Turkish businessmen, they are engaged in selling this oil" ("Barzani" is a reference to Masoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region).
But even as Turkey's ties to the ISIS oil trade have been hiding in plain sight for the better part of two years, the Western media largely ignores the issue (or at least the scope of it and the possible complicity of the Erdogan government) because after all, Turkey is a NATO member.
Unfortunately for Ankara, Erdogan's move to shoot down a Russian Su-24 near the Syrian border on Tuesday prompted an angry Vladimir Putin to throw Turkey under the ISIS oil bus for the entire world to see. Here's what Putin said yesterday after a meeting in Moscow with French President Francois Hollande:
"Vehicles, carrying oil, lined up in a chain going beyond the horizon. The views resemble a living oil pipe stretched from ISIS and rebel controlled areas of Syria into Turkey. Day and night they are going to Turkey. Trucks always go there loaded, and back from there – empty. We are talking about a commercial-scale supply of oil from the occupied Syrian territories seized by terrorists. It is from these areas [that oil comes from], and not with any others. And we can see it from the air, where these vehicles are going."
“We assume that the top political leadership of Turkey might not know anything about this [illegal oil trade although that's] hard to believe," Putin continued, adding that “if the top political leadership doesn’t know anything about this, let them find out."
Obviously, Putin is being sarcastic. He very clearly believes that the Erdogan government is heavily involved in the transport and sale of ISIS crude. In the immediate aftermath of the Su-24 incident, Putin said the following about Ankara:
- PUTIN: OIL FROM ISLAMIC STATE IS BEING SHIPPED TO TURKEY
- PUTIN SAYS ISLAMIC STATE GETS CASH BY SELLING OIL TO TURKEY
As part of our continuing effort to track and document the ISIS oil trade, we present the following excerpts from a study by George Kiourktsoglou, Visiting Lecturer, University of Greenwich, London and Dr Alec D Coutroubis, Principal Lecturer, University of Greenwich, London. The paper, entitled "ISIS Gateway To Global Crude Oil Markets," looks at tanker charter rates from the port of Ceyhan in an effort to determine if Islamic State crude is being shipped from Southeast Turkey.
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The tradesmen/smugglers responsible for the transportation and sale of the black gold send convoys of up to thirty trucks to the extraction sites of the commodity. They settle their trades with ISIS on site, encouraged by customer friendly discounts and deferred payment schemes. In this way, crude leaves Islamic State-run wells promptly and travels through insurgent-held parts of Syria, Iraq and Turkey.
Since allied U.S. air-raids do not target the truck lorries out of fear of provoking a backlash from locals, the transport operations are being run efficiently, taking place most of times in broad daylight. Traders lured by high profits are active in Syria (even in government-held territories), Iraq and south-east Turkey.
The supply chain comprises the following localities: Sanliura, Urfa, Hakkari, Siirt, Batman, Osmaniya, Gaziantep, Sirnak, Adana, Kahramarmaras, Adiyaman and Mardin. The string of trading hubs ends up in Adana, home to the major tanker shipping port of Ceyhan.
Ceyhan is a city in south-eastern Turkey, with a population of 110,000 inhabitants, of whom 105,000 live in the major metropolitan area. It is the second most developed and most populous city of Adana Province, after the capital Adana with a population of 1,700,000. It is situated on the Ceyhan River which runs through the city and it is located 43 km east of Adana. Ceyhan is the transportation hub for Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Russian oil and natural gas (Municipality of Ceyhan 2015).
The port of Ceyhan plays host to a marine oil terminal that is situated in the Turkish Mediterranean and has been operating since 2006. It receives hydrocarbons for further loading in tankers, which carry the commodity to world markets.
Additionally, the port features a cargo pier and an oil-terminal, both of 23.2m depth that can load tankers of more than 500 feet in length (Ports.com 2015). The annual export capacity of the terminal runs as high as 50 million tonnes of oil. The terminal is operated by Botas International Limited (BIL), a Turkish state company that also operates the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline on the territory of Turkey.
The quantities of crude oil that are being exported to the terminal in Ceyhan, exceed the mark of one million barrels per day. Putting this number into context and given that ISIS has never been able to trade daily more than 45,000 barrels of oil (see Section 2, ‘The Upstream Oil Business of ISIS’, page 2), it becomes evident that the detection of similar quantities of smuggled crude cannot take place through stock-accounting methods. However, the authors of the present paper believe that there is another proxy-indicator, far more sensitive to quantities of ultracheap smuggled crude. This is the charter rates for tankers loading at Ceyhan.
The Baltic Exchange (2015 a) tracks the charter rates on major seaborne trading routes of crude oil. To render its service more efficient and easily understood, it uses the system of Baltic Dirty Tanker Indices (Baltic Exchange 2015 b). One of these indices used to be the BDTI TD 11, 80,000 Cross Mediterranean from Baniyas, Syria to Laveras, France (see Map VI). Route 11 was discontinued in September 2011, due to Syria’s civil war and soon thereafter, it was replaced by BDTI TD 19 (TD19-TCE_Calculation 2015), of exactly the same technical specifications as BDTI TD 11, with the exception of the loading port of Ceyhan instead of Baniyas.
From July 2014 until February 2015, the curve of TD 19 features three unusual spikes that do not match the trends featured by the rest of the Middle East trade-routes (see Graph IV):
- The first spike develops from the 10th of July 2014 until the 21st, lasting approximately ten days. It coincides with the fall of Syria’s largest oil field, the AlOmar, in the hands of ISIS (Reuters 2014);
- The second spike takes place from the end of October until the end of November 2014, lasting one month. It happens at the same time with fierce fighting between fundamentalists and the Syrian army over the control of the Jhar and Mahr gas fields, as well as the Hayyan gas company in the east of Homs province (International Business Times 2014; Albawada News 214);
- The third spike lasts from the end of January 2015 until the 10th of February, stretching roughly ten days. It happens simultaneously with a sustained US-led campaign of airstrikes pounding ISIS strongholds in and around the town of Hawija east of the oil-rich Kirkuk (Rudaw 2015);
The authors of this paper would like to make it clear from the very beginning that this has not been the case of a ‘smoking gun’. The evidence has been inconclusive. But even if volumes of ISIS crude found their way, beyond any reasonable doubt, to the international crude oil markets via the Ceyhan terminal, this fact would not conclusively point to collusion between the Turkish authorities and the shadow network of smugglers, let alone ISIS operatives.
However, having clarified such a politically sensitive issue, the authors believe that there are strong hints to an illicit supply chain that ships ISIS crude from Ceyhan. Primary research points to a considerably active shadow network of crude oil smugglers and traders (see section 2.1, page 3), who channel ISIS crude to southeast Turkey from northeast Syria and northwest Iraq. Given the existence of Route E 90, the corresponding transportation of oil poses no unsurmountable geographic and topological challenges.
An additional manifestation of the invisible nexus between Ceyhan and ISIS became evident through the concurrent study of the tanker charter rates from the port and the timeline of the terrorists’ military engagements (see section 3.4 on this page). It seems that whenever the Islamic State is fighting in the vicinity of an area hosting oil assets, the 13 exports from Ceyhan promptly spike. This may be attributed to an extra boost given to crude oil smuggling with the aim of immediately generating additional funds, badly needed for the supply of ammunition and military equipment. Unfortunately, in this case too, the authors cannot be categorical.
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No, it can't be categorical and frankly, if the authors claimed to have discovered indisputable proof, we would be immediately skeptical. What they have done however, is identify a statistical anomaly and develop a plausible theory to explain it.
The key thing to note, is that this is a state-run terminal and it certainly seems as though charter rates spike around significant oil-related events involving Islamic State. Indeed, the fact that the authors mention collusion between Turkish authorities and ISIS operatives (even if they do so on the way to hedging their conclusions) indicates that the researchers think such a partnership is possible.
Finally, note that Ceyhan is less than two hours by car from Incirlik air base from which the US is flying anti-ISIS sorties. In other words, ISIS oil is being shipped to the world right down the road from Washington's preferred Mid-East forward operating base.
Now that we can add what looks like quantitative evidence that ISIS oil is shipped from Turkey to the voluminous qualitative evidence supplied by ex-Turkish lawmakers, investigative reporters, and the Russian government (to name just a few sources), we can now proceed to consider one final question: where does the crude that helps to fund Bakr al-Baghdadi's caliphate ultimately end up? More on that over the weekend.
Credit to Zero Hedge