Note This article is still growing so there will be a part three.
This is part two, part one is HERE.
"Labour are now a serious risk to our nation's security, our economy's security and your family's security,"
“The threats to our interests and to our people are such that we cannot afford to stand aside and not to act.”
"The view we took at the time and we take it now is that the war was justified legally because he [Saddam Hussein] remained in breach of UN resolutions."
"It is always preferable in these circumstances to have the full backing of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) but I have to say what matters most of all is that any action we would take would... be legal,"
“I am in no doubt that it is in our national interest to stop them. And stopping them means taking action in Syria, because it is Raqqa that is their headquarters,”
Destroy their economy
Islamic State may at one time have been a terrorist group, those days are long gone. It is a de facto nation with an economy higher than that of a number of the poorest nations that sit in the UN.
They have an economy, multiple sources of income worth billions of dollars, they are reported to use international banks to move their funds around and despite the ongoing military campaigns being conducted against them are hardly short of a few dollars.
Defeating them and ultimately destroying them depends on destroying their will to fight and their ability to fight. Their will to fight comes from Reputation and Creed, their ability to fight comes from their economy, the money to buy guns and equipment, to maintain their state and to meet several of the world’s most powerful in battle and survive.
IS have tax men, yep, they charge taxes, you can laugh but they actually point out that they charge less in tax than the states around them in an effort to attract companies to set up inside the Islamic State. They run schools and libraries and food kitchens, they pay salaries to their staff and fighters, they run a court system and police and hand out fines to people who have broken IS laws.
Not in any particular order but first we have oil.
IS controls several Syrian and Iraqi oil fields and have kept them pumping oil throughout the fighting.
Tanker lorries convoys are reported to stretch for miles (or were) as they allegedly crossed into Iraq, or into turkey to be refined into petrol or diesel or chemicals or to be shipped out to other customers.
Middle men bought Syrian and Iraqi oil and sold it on, often to the same states claiming to be fighting IS.
Turkey has several times claimed it shut its border to smuggling but the smuggling seems to continue. Likewise the Kurdish regions are reported to be involved, buying the oil and shipping it to Iraq or Turkey themselves.
Analysis suggests that at peak IS was making up to $3 million a day in oil sales by selling at a fraction of the global oil price to middle men who are also making rich profits out of the deal. Anywhere from half a billion dollars to a billion dollars a year.
That’s $500,000,000 to $1,000,000,000 A YEAR as a worst case.
Until recently the intensive air campaign to defeat IS completely failed to attack the oil fields, those miles long convoys of tanker lorries or the smuggling operations to ship the oil to refineries or buyers in next door nations.
One of the first things the Russians did was hit some of these concentrations of tanker trucks, the US finally took to hitting the trucks after apparently having not noticed them for a year or more.
These oil fields are still working, still producing oil. Incidentally estimates place IS as somewhere in the mid sixties on the list of global oil producing nations, the terrorist group that our leaders think will be overthrown by a few more aircraft and a few more bombs actually place half way up the list of oil producing nations of the world and until recently NOT ONE BOMB OR MISSILE fell on that oil production.
Some of this oil is sold to Turkish middle men and smuggled across the border into Turkey, I say smuggled here but sections of the border are reported to be so open, the guards so well bribed that long convoys wander in both directions without any worry of being stopped. The money from the oil is used to buy supplies, weapons and ammunition which is then driven back along the same roads from Turkey to Syria.
Turkey responds by arresting reporters who dare to mention the weapons convoys going in to Syria.
Islamic State charge taxes on everything within their region, anything bought or sold, tax collectors, tax offices, road tax, vehicle tax, border crossing tax, income tax, corporate tax. Protection tax on non muslim communities and individuals.
Estimates vary but agree that $300 million a year is at the low end.
Funding from other states and individuals.
How about wealthy individuals from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates who are funnelling anywhere from $50 million a year to $200 million a year to sunni groups in Syria and Iraq. NGOs and individuals who are reputed to include senior members of the house of Saud (no one is willing to come forward and press charges which is why I say reputed) all pouring money into the coffers of IS and several other groups in the region.
This is in addition to the ‘official’ funding provided by those governments to US run operations to train and arm the anti Assad groups who rush across the border from Turkey to Syria and almost immediately join IS or vanish without trace.
IS is one side of a religious war that has at its heart the nations mentioned above, states that either seem to be directly supporting or turning a blind eye to those who are supporting Islamic state to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars over the last few years.
Kidnapping for ransom.
The UN estimate that IS has made in excess of $50 million so far from kidnapping and ransoms. Those videos with westerns being threatened with beheading unless the ransom is paid, well outside of a few western governments most of those ransoms were paid.
This doesn’t cover the human trafficking or slavery, those pictures you may have seen of young women or girls lined up to be sold like goods at a market, they make money from that as well.
Exporting looted antiques.
All of the thousands of historic sites controlled by IS, the museums they have captured, the world heritage sites they have been seen smashing with hammers or blowing up. All were looted first and much of the portal contents sold to private dealers on the back market. Shipped across the borders to Jordan, Turkey or Iraq and from there to wealthy dealers and collectors in Europe, the US and the rest of the world.
Estimates from the US were that in 2014 IS made in excess of $100 million, that’s $100,000,000 from sales of looted antique items.
Please note that none of this includes the other sources of money they have, the fees they charge for protection services, or for collecting the rubbish, providing electricity, selling petrol and diesel (yes there are IS petrol stations).
How about the approximately half a billion dollars they looted from the banks they captured in Iraq.
They level a VAT on goods sold. All of those non muslims they drive out or murder, their homes are looted, their possessions are taken and given to IS people or sold to generate more funds. They have also been renting or selling the land and homes of the people who have been killed or driven off by IS forces.
How about farming and mining. IS controls some very fertile areas of the middle east, there are numerous reports on their ability to not just feed their own people but to sell the excess to middle men and ship the wheat, barley and other crops to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and then on to other parts of the world to generate in excess of $100 million a year.
Cement, sulphuric acid and phosphoric acid. IS is extracting the raw materials and either manufacturing the end products for sale or selling the raw materials which again wander across the border to Iraq or Turkey to be used or sold on again.
Yes. Islamic State actually exports crops and industrial materials not to mention all of the manufactured goods that are made by the many small factories and industries in the areas they control, goods which seem to get out of the country with little difficulty after paying IS a fee to cross the border.
Most of this income depends on the fact that the borders with nations such as Turkey, Jordan and Iraq that should be closed to IS are, in fact wide open. Turkey alone seems to be responsible for a enough traffic in both directions they should build a motorway to handle it and yet nothing is being done to lock down these borders.
In Iraq you can forgive this because in many cases the borders are unknown and move from week to week but there is no such excuse for Turkey which has border fences supposedly patrolled and guarded.
But Turkey is an ally just like Saudi Arabia is an ally and so nothing is done to stop the flow of goods and money that is funding IS.
How exactly will a few more aircraft or bombs help, Given that international politics is actively turning a blind eye to the fact that IS is being supported, encouraged and funded by most of the nations who are supposed to be fighting them. Even the United States are counted on this list since it takes a special kind of fool, or a politician to ignore the fact that billions spent by the US flow straight into Islamic States coffers.
Closing the border with Turkey will have a significant medium and long term impact on the economy of IS. How about taking out the oil fields, the lorries can move, the oil fields don’t move and can’t hide.
How about putting pressure on the hordes of middle men and nations who are buying from IS or selling to IS.
IS has a diverse economy that is bringing it significant funding, this isn’t a terrorist group, it’s a fledgling nation with a national economy and more importantly it is an economy that is not just local but regional or global.
So my question is; will bombing help to destroy Islamic States economy?