Where does ISIS get its money from, anyhow?
Many people have been asking, but this from Deutsche Welle (German public radio) seems the most cogent:
During its conquest of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, ISIS fighters looted more than 500 billion Iraqi Dinar, worth about $420 million (308 million euros) at current exchange rates. ISIS is a rebel army composed of Sunni jihadis that calls itself the "Islamic State of Iraq and greater Syria." Its aim is to establish a theocratic Sunni caliphate in the region.
The banks really keep that much in cash? Maybe so.
Iraqi officials estimate that the group now has about $2 billion in its war chest. What remains controversial is where the bulk of its money comes from.
"Iraqi officials." Hmm. Do they have names? Titles? Meanwhile, the Iraqis blame the Saudis:
Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government accuses Saudi Arabia of supporting the ISIS jihadis. On Tuesday (17.06.2014), Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki said "we hold Saudi Arabia responsible" for the financial and moral support given to ISIS.
And they could be right! Anybody seen ISIS going after the Saudis?
The USA, which is Saudi Arabia’s most important ally, has rejected the Iraqi Premier’s accusation. Jen Psaki, a speaker for the US State Department, said on Tuesday evening that al-Maliki’s accusation was "inaccurate and humiliating."
Money from the Gulf States?
"There is no publicly accessible proof that the government of a state has been involved in the creation or financing of ISIS as an organisation," said Charles Lister, Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, a subsidiary of the US think-tank Brookings Institution.
OK, so it's Qatar! And maybe so:
Others take a different view. Günter Meyer is Director of the Center for Research into the Arabic World at the University of Mainz. Meyer says he has no doubt about where ISIS gets its funding. "The most important source of ISIS financing to date has been support coming out of the Gulf states, primarily Saudi Arabia but also Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates," Meyer told Deutsche Welle. The Gulf states' motivation in financing groups like ISIS was to support their fight against the regime of President Bashar al Assad in Syria, according to Meyer. Three quarters of the Syrian population are Sunni Muslims, but Syria is ruled by an elite drawn mostly from the Alawite minority. The Alawites are an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
But now, blowback?
Recently, however, the government of Saudi Arabia has recognized the dangers of this policy. "Saudi citizens now compose the largest contingent of foreign fighters in ISIS. When those fighters come home, there's a danger that they might turn against the Saudi regime," Meyer said. But there are reasons to believe that financing for ISIS continues to flow out of Saudi Arabia, "less from the Saudi government than from rich Saudis".
Anyhow, you could of ISIS as an, er, disruptive startup, for which the Gulf States provided the money. Now they are self-funding!
Additional key financing sources for ISIS, according to Meyer, are the oil fields of northern Syria. "ISIS was able to get those oil fields under their control. They use trucks to bring oil over the border into Turkey. That's an important source of funding for them."
Because that way nobody is responsible! Especially not the US. I mean, we're trying to get rid of Maliki, won't join with Iran to "save" him, and we're not funding Maliki's opponents? Why would that make sense? Not that any of it makes sense. I've toyed with the idea that all we really want to do is keep the bloodletting going as long as we can, no matter which side is "winning."
As they say, read the whole thing and speculate freely!