Obama’s ISIS Legacy*
By Rachel Ehrenfeld
Thursday, August 20th, 2015 @ 9:00AM
Presidential candidate and billionaire businessman Donald Trump has the right idea regarding how to stop ISIS. “I would knock out the source of their wealth, the primary source of their wealth, which is oil,” he told MSNBC.
A year into it, the United States-led daily air campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has done little, if anything, to stop the murderous Islamist group’s oil lifeline.
The U.S. Treasury Department estimated last month that ISIS netted at least $1 billion from public and private banks in the cities it overran. ISIS generates additional income from taxes, ransom, sexual slave trade, antiquities and the smuggling of everything. However, the revenues from oil and oil products fuel the umbilical cord of ISIS. According to the assistant secretary of treasury for terrorist financing, Daniel Glaser, ISIS has been making “about $500 million a year” from oil sales.
Soon after taking over Mosul, in June 2014, ISIS embarked on developing the oil trafficking business. The U.S. and its allies could have stopped this industry in its infancy, but chose not to. Since then, ISIS has even issued ads for highly paid refinery and rig operators.
While allied targeted bombing had reportedly killed a few ISIS leaders and hundreds of their easily replaceable fighters, they strangely did not target the easy-to-spot movement of hundreds of oil tankers and thousands of smaller vehicles on the same route daily. You’d think a continuous movement like this would not escape notice of the intelligence services given the war-torn landscape and the small number of border crossings into Turkey. Indeed, the failure to target ISIS oil fields and tankers is reminiscent of the allied forces’ reluctance to bomb the rail tracks that carried the trains packed with Jews to the Nazi concentration camps.
Dr. Norman Bailey, of the Center for National Security Studies and Geostrategy at Haifa University, has pointed out the obvious. “The Islamic State’s barbaric conquests are financed by collaborators among the business and financial circles of the West.” In his Globes online commentary, Bailey explains that the funds to pay for oil and oil products can be obtained in banknotes, only through the cooperation of a chain of “correspondent banks.”
Bailey rightly argues that the “oil buyers are readily found in the West and tanker trucks are permitted to reach ports where oil tankers are waiting to load it…All this requires ready, willing and able collaborators among the business and financial circles of the West as well as surrounding countries…. The buyers and the facilitators and the financiers are not that difficult to identify, so that if the opponents of Islamic State were really serious about doing something about it, along with the occasional bombing raid, the Islamic State could be starved of funds to continue its rampage of murder, destruction, rape and slavery.”
Bailey notes that while Iran was forced to the negotiating table because the sanctions regime effectively deprived it “of necessary funds (along with a falling oil price), ISIS, however, doesn’t even have to negotiate. It has had no trouble finding collaborators among the worshippers of MAMMON in the West, allowing [it] to pursue…bloody conquests.”
President Obama opposes putting American troops on the ground to fight ISIS and his (now former) Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told the Washington Post that he disagreed with Trump. According to Gen. Odierno, destroying ISIS’s oil resources will solve the problem only temporarily, “because we haven’t properly looked at the political and economic side of it.” He concluded, as Obama does, “In order to resolve that, you need countries of the Middle East and those surrounding the Middle East to be involved in the solution.” This is a very poor excuse.
Right now, neighboring countries and their banks collaborate with ISIS, helping its oil sales and laundering the money. However, destroying the oil production facilities under ISIS control and their oil tankers is likely to minimize the financial temptations to collaborate with ISIS.
Obama’s reluctance to harm the terrorists’ major financial resources helps strengthen ISIS fighting power on the ground and increase its global appeal through the Internet. Together with his very bad Iran deal, Obama will be leaving behind a very bloody legacy.
- Different versions of this article were published by Israel Hyom and the Algemeiner.