US coali­tion slashes ISIS oil rev­enue

Mil­i­tant group’s chief source of funds cut 90%

The Commercial Appeal - - Viewpoint -

USA TODAY WASHINGTON The U.S.-led coali­tion bat­tling the Is­lamic State has slashed the mil­i­tant group’s oil rev­enues by more than 90 per­cent over the past two years, all but cut­ting off its chief source of funds, coali­tion statis­tics show.

Is­lamic State oil pro­duc­tion in Iraq and Syria has been cut to less than $4 mil­lion a month from a peak of $50 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to statis­tics the coali­tion pro­vided to USA TODAY.

Af­ter sweep­ing through Syria and Iraq in 2014, the Is­lamic State seized oil to fund global ter­ror cam­paigns and gov­er­nance of its self-pro­claimed “caliphate.”

Oil ac­counted for about half of the group’s rev­enue. The rest came from loot­ing an es­ti­mated $500 mil­lion from banks and ex­tort­ing money from res­i­dents trapped in cities oc­cu­pied by the Is­lamic State, also known as ISIS.

Those sources of money are dry­ing up, too, as the mil­i­tants have been ex­pelled from most ma­jor cities and much of their stores of stolen cash has been spent or de­stroyed by coali­tion forces.

“Los­ing half their rev­enues means a lot,” An­drew Tabler, an an­a­lyst at the Washington In­sti­tute for Near East Pol­icy, said of the oil money.

“Their ter­ri­tory is shrink­ing and so is their abil­ity to tax peo­ple,” Tabler said.

The coali­tion be­gan a tar­geted cam­paign aimed at the Is­lamic State’s oil busi­ness in 2015.

That air cam­paign has de­stroyed more than 2,500 tanker trucks op­er­ated by the mil­i­tants, and tar­geted mo­bile re­finer­ies and other oil in­fra­struc­ture linked to the group, ac­cord­ing to the coali­tion statis­tics.

Some of the bombs are small and de­signed to dis­able the re­finer­ies with­out de­stroy­ing them so they can be re­built once the re­main­ing ISIS fight­ers have been ex­pelled.

“The coali­tion has reg­u­larly con­ducted strikes against ISIS and their oil pro­duc­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties to de­grade their abil­ity to gen­er­ate rev­enue from oil re­sources and fa­cil­i­ties,” the coali­tion said in a state­ment.

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