Sıtkı Ayan, the businessman helping Tehran sell oil, dodged US sanctions for years
On March 22 of 2021, several of the world’s most dangerous men descended on Beirut’s historic seaside Summerland Hotel — not to swim in the Mediterranean or explore the sumptuous resort’s “Le Beach Pop Up,” but to talk Turkey.
The meeting was a secret one, between a delegation of senior Iranian military and government officials and a business group from Turkey led by a confidant of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Both sides were keen to deepen their partnership smuggling Iranian oil to buyers in China and Russia to raise funds for Tehran’s terror proxies, according to Western diplomats.
A little more than a year after the meeting, all of the key attendees would find their names on U.S. sanctions lists, with one important exception: Turkish businessman Sıtkı Ayan, a friend of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — the two men attended the same high school — and the man at the center of it all.
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