SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
A US treasury official has warned Turkish and Kurdish middlemen against trading in Islamic State (ISIS) oil by threatening to slap US sanctions on those caught dealing with the extremist group.
US officials have discreetly criticised the illicit Turkish and Kurdish trade in oil from ISIS, which is also known as IS and ISIL, but comments from US Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen in Washington on Thursday, were the clearest warning so far.
“Last month, ISIL was selling oil at substantially discounted prices to a variety of middlemen, including some from Turkey,” Cohen said. “It also appears that some of the oil emanating from territory where ISIL operates has been sold to Kurds in Iraq, and then resold into Turkey.”
A US-led coalition began launching air strikes on ISIS in Iraq in August and Syria in September, including on ISIS-run oilfields and refineries – bringing crude production down to 20,000 barrels a day, less than a third of what it was last summer, the International Energy Agency said.
“Airstrikes on ISIL oil refineries are threatening ISIL’s supply networks and depriving it of fuel to sell or use itself,” Cohen added. “Our partners in the region, including Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government, are committed to preventing ISIL-derived oil from crossing their borders.”
Speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Cohen threatened sanctions against anyone buying oil from ISIS. He said that ISIS funding from oil sales, ransoms, extortion and other criminal activities were difficult revenue streams to stop.
“With the important exception of some state-sponsored terrorist organizations, ISIL is probably the best-funded terrorist organization we have confronted,” Cohen said. “We have no silver bullet, no secret weapon to empty ISIL’s coffers overnight.”
US-led airstrikes continued against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria on Thursday, part of a strategy by US President Barack Obama’s to “degrade and destroy” the group that has been criticised for its limited military firepower and lacklustre political support.
On Wednesday, a survey by Pew Research Center found that most Americans say the US military effort against ISIS is not going well, while just 30 per cent of those surveyed said the US and its allies have a “clear goal” in taking military action.