Air strikes by the United States and Russian militaries show a new focus in international efforts against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: to undercut the group by degrading its ability to use oil as a financial lifeline.
Not a cure-all, but it's part of a strategy.
The leaders of IS “make excellent use of the money they attain…. The more you cut off that money, the more you make it difficult for them to do the funding of all sorts of nefarious projects.”
I had assumed they received money from the Sunni countries in the region as al-Qaeda does. Not so much, tho.
Oil isn’t the Islamic State’s only sizable funding source. Most notable is the extraction of rents (various forms of extortion, fees, and taxes) from populations in IS-held territories.
Other experts say that the extortion of local populations may be the Islamic State’s No. 1 source of income.
Other activities yield smaller but meaningful income: the sale of antiquities, kidnappings for ransom, human trafficking, gifts from rich supporters. Last but not least is the one-time haul of money looted from banks when IS took over places like Mosul, Iraq – a total that may have reached $500 million to $1 billion in that city alone, experts say.
On the cost side of the IS ledger, payroll of fighters alone may run higher than $300 million per year. The group also has to spend on paying oil-field technicians, and on providing some government services in the regions it controls.
Add it all up, and some analysts see the IS financial model as unsustainable in the long run, without further territorial conquests. That becomes especially true if the opportunity to sell oil can be constrained.
And in other news of making Muslims want to kill us, here's John Kerry.
Secretary of State John Kerry visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today to meet with Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan. The UAE — a close Western ally with some of the world’s largest oil reserves — is a federation of seven absolute monarchies which base their laws on an extreme interpretation of Sharia (Islamic law). Although it tries to present itself as practicing a semblance of democracy, the roles of the UAE’s president and prime minister are effectively hereditary in nature, passed down to the emirs of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The New York Times has described the UAE as “an autocracy with the sheen of a progressive, modern state.”
In his trip Monday morning, Kerry applauded the monarchic, theocratic state for its work in the region.
“We respect what United Arab Emirates has been able to do to be able to accomplish significant progress in Yemen,” Kerry said.
What exactly does Kerry mean by “significant progress”? He means the UAE has helped wage a destructive war on Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East.
Supporting autocratic bastards who are raining death on a poor country also filled with Muslims is not going to help us.