Worry about your friends,
not your enemies
- As I have Blogged over and over, the weapons ISIS used to attack Syria and invade Iraq did not appear by magic on a beautiful spring day. Since Syria is backed by Russia and Iran that means ISIS was deliberately funded and armed by the CIA and/or our Islamist "allies" like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More and more we are seeing articles come out talking about this.
(From Counter Punch) - Islamic State is still receiving significant financial support from Arab sympathisers outside Iraq and Syria, enabling it to expand its war effort, says a senior Kurdish official.
The US has being trying to stop such private donors in the Gulf oil states sending to Islamic State (Isis) funds that help pay the salaries of fighters who may number well over 100,000.
Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of the Kurdish President, Massoud Barzani, told The Independent on Sunday: “There is sympathy for Da’esh [the Arabic acronym for IS, also known as Isis] in many Arab countries and this has translated into money – and that is a disaster.” He pointed out that until recently financial aid was being given more or less openly by Gulf states to the opposition in Syria – but by now most of these rebel groups have been absorbed into IS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate, so it is they “who now have the money and the weapons”.
Mr Hussein would not identify the states from which the funding for IS comes today, but implied that they were the same Gulf oil states that financed Sunni Arab rebels in Iraq and Syria in the past.
Dr Mahmoud Othman, a veteran member of the Iraqi Kurdish leadership who recently retired from the Iraqi parliament, said there was a misunderstanding as to why Gulf countries paid off IS. It is not only that donors are supporters of IS, but that the movement “gets money from the Arab countries because they are afraid of it”, he says. “Gulf countries give money to Da’esh so that it promises not to carry out operations on their territory.”
Iraqi leaders in Baghdad privately express similar suspicions that IS – with a territory the size of Great Britain and a population of six million fighting a war on multiple fronts, from Aleppo to the Iranian border – could not be financially self-sufficient, given the calls on its limited resources.
On Tuesday night they made a surprise attack with between 300 and 400 fighters, many of them North Africans from Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, on Kurdish forces 40 miles west of the Kurdish capital, Irbil. The Kurds say that 34 IS fighters were killed in fighting and by US air strikes. At the same time, IS was battling for control of the town of al-Baghdadi, several hundred miles away in Anbar province. Despite forecasts by a CentCom spokesman last week that the tide has turned and that IS is on the retreat there is little sign of this on the ground.
On the contrary, IS appears to have the human and financial resources to fight a long war, though both are under strain. According to interviews by The Independent with people living in Mosul reached by phone, or with recent refugees from the city, IS officials are conscripting at least one young man from every family in Mosul, which has a population of 1.5 million. It has drafted a list of draconian punishments for those not willing to fight, starting with 80 lashes and ending with execution.
All these new recruits receive pay, as well as their keep, which until recently was $500 (£324) a month but has now been cut to about $350. Officers and commanders receive much more. A local source, who did not want to be named, says that foreign fighters, of whom there are an estimated 20,000 in IS, get a much higher salary – starting at $800 a month.
“I know three foreign fighters,” said Ahmad, a 45-year-old shopkeeper still working in Mosul. “I usually see them at checkpoints in our neighbourhood: one is Turkish and the others are Europeans. Some of them speak a little Arabic. I know them well because they buy soft drinks from the shops in our neighbourhood. The Turkish one is my customer. He says he talks to his family using the satellite internet service that is available for the foreigners, who have excellent privileges in terms of salaries, spoils and even captives.”
Read more at Counter Punch.org