THE LEVANT – Turkey‘s energy minister on Monday denied media reports that his country was buying oil from the Islamic State extremist militia, which has taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.
According to the New York Times, Western intelligence officials have tracked illegal oil coming into south-eastern Turkey from northern Iraqi areas currently under the militia‘s control. There have been similar charges in other media outlets.
In response, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said the country would take the necessary measures to crack down on flows of oil from the Islamic State, also known by the acronym ISIL, if it was able to ascertain that this was indeed the case.
“In this oil, there is no oil from ISIL,” Yildiz said, referring to the official imports to Turkey coming over the Kirkuk pipeline from Iraq.
Turkey has reportedly started to crack down on oil smuggling allegedly taking place on its border with Iraq.
Yildiz was speaking during a trip to Qatar with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The two countries have been allies on key foreign policy positions, including support for Islamic political movements like the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
During the visit, Turkey‘s top officials signed a deal to buy 1.2 billion cubic meters of gas from Qatar, the world‘s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas producer. The deal is meant to come into effect this year.
Yildiz has said that Turkey will not sign any gas deals or discuss building a gas pipeline with Israel until there is peace in the Gaza Strip.
Israel has discovered two large gas fields off its shores and there had been talks earlier this year between private Turkish companies and the Israel gas field operator.
Israeli newspaper Globes quoted industry sources as saying Israeli firms were still trying to secure a deal with Turkey after reaching initial agreements with Jordan and private foreign companies operating in Egypt.
Turkey, which pays relatively high prices for its gas, is looking to find ways to cut costs.