The KRG to co­op­er­ate with USA to put an end to ISIS’ oil smug­gling

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

The Is­lamic State (for­merly ISIS) has been ex­port­ing oil from North­ern Iraq to fi­nance its ac­tiv­i­ties, thanks to a solid net­work of smug­glers. The Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG), with lo­gis­tic help from the United States, is try­ing to block this im­por­tant source of fund­ing for ISIS and has al­ready ar­rested sev­eral sus­pects.

This smug­gling process fol­lows dif­fer­ent routes, which makes the process of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of those in­volved sig­nif­i­cantly harder. How­ever, the US is try­ing to block it at bor­der cross­ings – some­thing which al­ready seems to be slow­ing down the process.

The United States is work­ing closely with the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment to clamp down on oil smug­gling in a bid to cut off a key source of fund­ing for Is­lamic State, a se­nior US of­fi­cial said on Thurs­day [30 Oc­to­ber 2014].

Is­lamic State mil­i­tants have seized oil fields and re­finer­ies in north Iraq and have been ex­port­ing oil through smug­gling net­works to help fi­nance their cam­paign, along with the ran­som, ex­tor­tion and other crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties.

"We are work­ing with the re­gional gov­ern­ment in Er­bil to support their ef­forts in stop­ping those ship­ments and those smug­gling op­er­a­tions," said Act­ing En­ergy En­voy for the United States, Amos Hochstein.

"It is of crit­i­cal im­por­tance to the United States, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and to Kur­dis­tan it­self to see an in­creased ef­fort to stop that smug­gling."

The Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG) has ar­rested a num­ber of peo­ple for smug­gling, said Hochstein, who is meet­ing with of­fi­cials in coun­tries neigh­bor­ing Syria and Iraq to stop the il­le­gal oil flow.

The Is­lamic State had sold oil via smug­glers to Turk­ish traders at vastly dis­counted prices while some of the crude had also been re­fined in Syria and sold as gaso­line in Mo­sul.

An oil min­istry ad­viser had es­ti­mated that in the first two weeks of July, Is­lamic State made nearly $1 mil­lion a day.

The United States is work­ing with the KRG to iden­tify oil routes, trucks and traders in­volved, and try­ing to block smug­gling via bor­der cross­ings and the pur­chas­ing side, Hochstein said.

"The oil is be­ing smug­gled through dif­fer­ent routes, into dif­fer­ent coun­tries," he said. "So it has to be an en­tire value chain ef­fort to stop Is­lamic State smug­gling ef­forts."

But oil routes keep shift­ing and coali­tion airstrikes have also changed the dy­namic of the flow.

"The routes change, there's some maybe go­ing through Turkey, Iran, KRG and po­ten­tially through Jor­dan," he said. "It's not static and that makes it dif­fi­cult, but I think the ef­fort is suc­ceed­ing in slow­ing that process down."

Hochstein was hope­ful that the new gov­ern­ment of Iraq could reach an agree­ment on oil ex­ports from Kur­dis­tan. Bagh­dad has claimed that Kur­dish oil ship­ments are il­le­gal.

"We be­lieve that it would ben­e­fit all par­ties, if oil was ex­ported from all parts of Iraq through agree­ment, and that will ex­pand the pie and there­fore ex­pand the rev­enues for all Iraqi peo­ple," he said.

"We also be­lieve that this is the right time, this is a great win­dow of op­por­tu­nity, for the two par­ties to get to­gether and reach that agree­ment."

Smoke rises from the Beiji oil re­fin­ery dur­ing clashes be­tween the Is­lamic State and Iraqi gov­ern­ment forces in Beiji, north­ern Iraq, on July 30.

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