According to Foreign Policy, Russian engineers are working at an Islamic State-controlled gas plant in Syria despite the ongoing bloodshed regarding the war on IS. “The Tuweinan gas facility… was built by Russian construction company Stroytransgaz, which is owned by billionaire Gennady Timchenko, a close associate of Putin.” Additionally, Stroytransgaz “utilized a Syrian Hesco, which was owned by Russian-Syrian dual national George Haswani.”
The construction of the Tuweinan gas plant started in 2007 with the Syrian government, Bashar Assad, awarding the contract to Stroytransgaz, a Russian engineering construction company who in turn, subcontracted work to Hesco, the business owned by Russian-Syrian dual national, George Haswani. Both Stroytransgaz and George Haswani/Hesco have come under U.S. scrutiny for alleged acts directly linked to Vladimir Putin and oil sales with the Islamic State respectively (Stroytransgaz and Hesco companies have a history of partnership that can be mapped throughout the Middle East on various construction projects dating back to the year 2000).
With the gas plant changing hands from Syrian rebels to the Islamic State in 2014, Stroytransgaz and Hesco have resumed construction the gas plant with the Islamic State’s permission to do so. The Tuweinan gas plant became fully operational in 2015 and now supplies some natural gas to the Islamic State-protected Aleppo power station with the rest going to Homs and Damascus.
Abu Khahlid, a Syrian rebel commander, states that Russian engineers are still working at the Tuweinan gas plant that Haswani brokered the deal for with the Islamic State. In turn, Islamic State allowed the Russians to return in exchange for a bulk of the profits and gas product. Islamic State additionally will receive a monthly stipend of $50,000 from Hesco to protect the site equipment.
The entities that stand to benefit the most from this alliance on this controversial gas plant are the Assad regime, Russian-Syrian businessmen, Islamic State, and moderate Syrian groups who all have a stake in its product as well as its profits whilst keeping up the appearance of fighting Islamic State.
As more revelations come to light regarding the back-door dealings of the Tuweinan gas plant, we can be assured that the denials of being affiliated with Islamic State and this gas plant will also increase. Currently, Haswani has vehemently denied the U.S. Treasury’s claims that he is brokering deals on oil sales with the Islamic State and Assad regime.
From all outward appearances, Russia would have the world believe that it’s whole-heartedly in the fight against the Islamic State when there’s evidence to the contrary, albeit circumstantial. Is flying few Russian sorties over Islamic State-held areas in Syria enough to convince the world that Russia is truly in this fight against IS or are they only committed to operating the IS-controlled Tuweinan gas plant for profit?
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