Are we honestly fighting against ISIS?

Let’s put aside ideology and be practical. This is the essential first step to a useful diagnosis. Do we need to be reminded, after all, that a false diagnosis leads to the wrong prescription and erroneous results?

So let’s go back to the beginning and look at the facts. A self-proclaimed “Islamic State” has been set up between Iraq and Syria. This pseudo state controls vast areas which are rich in hydrocarbons (oil and gas). A “coalition” is supposed to fight against this Islamic State.

First of all, let’s note that the oil and gas reserves together with all the infrastructure, such as the accompanying logistics (refineries, buildings, pipelines, tanker-lorries, etc), all mean that the Islamic State earns tens of millions of dollars every month. They should therefore be prime targets for air-strikes, and should be raised to the ground. But nobody is doing this.

Even more curious is the fact that these targets are constantly listed, mapped and photographed. Let’s also note that they have been so for decades. Therefore we can only come to the following conclusion: if these targets have not been bombed, it is because there is no desire to do so…

Second important point: the oil and gas from these fields has been sold on the international market for at least three years now and has profited the Islamic State. To make this possible, the hydrocarbons are transported to ports, where they are then shipped by tankers, or carried by pipelines, to the buyers. There are two transportation possibilities from the source of supply: the pipelines or tanker-lorries.

In both cases, there is only one port that can be used to ship this oil and gas: the Mediterranean port of Yumurtalik, in Turkey. Anakara knows where the oil and the gas come from; the hydrocarbons can be traced backed to their source. But nobody condemns Turkey for collaborating with the Islamic State. Likewise, the buyers know – or, at least, can find out – where what they have bought comes from.

But who condemns the fact that we directly finance the Islamic State terrorists by buying oil and gas from the territories it occupies?  Just for information, let’s note that France is one of the buyers of Islamic State oil and gas, but there are also other European countries and the United States. Furthermore, the coalition has not yet thought about blockading the Islamic State, a “state” which is totally landlocked, in case we forgot!

When we declare war against a state (or a psuedo state), we should not only attack its armed forces but also its sources of finance. But, as long as the two points discussed above are not dealt with, the pseudo-Caliphate has a bright future. We may well make dramatic speeches, make calls for action and a state of emergency and other such nonsense, but the fundamental problem will not be solved. Hence the simple question: are we really fighting against the Islamic State?

November 28 2015

Article Translated from French

The original author was Philippe Raggi, an academic researcher specialising in the geopolitics of South-East Asia. He is head of the South-East Asian Department at the International Academy of Geopolitics in Paris. He is also a Research Fellow at the French Centre for Intelligence Research (CF2R).

Source: A l’Est de Suez