News / Middle East

Syrian Oil Finances ISIL Militants in Iraq

Syrian Oil Finances ISIL Militants in Iraqi
X
Al Pessin
June 20, 2014 5:28 PM
The Sunni militant group that has taken over a large area of Iraq has financed its operations in part through an unlikely alliance with one of its enemies - the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. VOA's Al Pessin reports.
Al Pessin
The Sunni militant group that has taken over a large area of Iraq has financed its operations in part through an unlikely alliance with one of its enemies - the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  

The militant fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) want to impose strict Muslim rule throughout the region, and eventually the entire world. Their initial push in western Iraq 10 years ago failed, and many of them crossed the border to fight the Syrian government.

In the process, they took over some Syrian oil facilities, potentially a huge source of revenue. But they could only find one customer.

And, according to Shiraz Maher of London’s King’s College, that customer was their enemy, the Syrian regime.

“It will act in its own self-interest, and that will mean cutting a Faustian Pact with the fighters of ISIS [ISIL] for the time being," Maher said. "Both sides are being very pragmatic about that.”

Now, the militants have set their sights on Iraq’s Beiji oil facility, potentially providing another source of revenue to further expand their operations.

But, in order to keep such facilities going, they need the cooperation of local tribes, and in Iraq they alienated those tribes 10 years ago with their extremism and brutality. That turned the tide of the Iraq war against them.

So Maher says they’ve come back with a new approach.

“They’ve gone into these areas and they’ve said, ‘We’ve been told to forgive you because you were led astray by the United States. You were led astray by [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki and have they delivered on their promises? No, they haven’t. They betrayed you and we’re coming back with a gentle handm,’” he said.

A gentle hand toward Sunnis, perhaps, but the opposite toward Shi’ites, particularly those in the Iraqi Army, which many Sunnis see as an instrument of repression.

The militants hope their new approach will turn the tide of the current Iraq fighting in their favor, and put them in a stronger position in Syria, too.

If the plan works, the group will have significant allies, territory and revenue it could use to launch attacks on the West, warns terrorism expert Raffaello Pantucci of the Royal United Services Institute.
 
“The group may see itself as needing to sort of stamp its authority and show that it is a capable group and the new inheritor of the banner of global jihad," Pantucci said. "And part of that might be to launch an attack against the West.”

Experts differ on whether the militants will do that in the near term, or focus on consolidating their gains in Syria and Iraq.  But the experts agree on two things - in the long term the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant wants to be a global power, and, with the resources it is acquiring, the West and its allies face a difficult job to stop it.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Van from: Canada
June 22, 2014 9:29 AM
Now US faced the dilemma. Which one to support and which one to suppress, Syria government and ISIS militants?

If US always support the opposition militants to fight with the government (like Syria) that US doesn't like, the oppositions militants may be united with the government (like Syria) to fight with US together.

US used to support Taliban to fight with Russia, finally it is Taliban who launched 911. US government used to support Iraq (provide Saddam Hussein with weapons, include mass destruction weapons) to fight with Iran, finally US army destroyed Iraq government (Saddam Hussein government) .

US government, wake up and think about what you have done and what you are doing?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs