According to Bloomberg’s, on Feb 10 the UN Security Council adopted a binding Russian resolution threatening economic and diplomatic sanctions against countries and individuals that help ISIS and other terrorist groups profit from trading oil, antiquities or hostages. As the US vetoes most Russian Security Council resolutions, this was an historic event.
The resolution requires governments to ensure that they aren’t engaged in direct or indirect trade with ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups such as the al-Nusra Front in Syria. According to Bloomberg’s, the resolution will significantly impact Turkey and Syria, which allow the purchase of oil from the militant group.
Facts the article omits are probably more significant than the omissions.
First Bloomberg’s neglects to mention that the US initially opposed the resolution and spent three days frantically trying to counter and/or change the draft language. Presumably this relates to inconvenient truth that Israel is one of the main destinations of the smuggled oil.
Second it fails to comment on an extremely odd scenario in which the Assad government is purchasing smuggled oil from ISIS:
Thirdly it (deliberately?) leaves Israel and unnamed EU nations off the list of countries buying oil from ISIS.
The text of the resolution, which stops short of threatening the use of force, urges governments to share information on ISIS financing networks, bans exports of all antiquities from Syria and reiterates the call on countries to prevent ISIS from benefiting from political concessions or ransom payments made to secure the release of hostages.
It also requires countries to block aircraft, auto and truck traffic, including oil tankers, traveling to or from areas in Syria and Iraq where the extremist groups operate.
ISIS earns about $1 million a day from oil sales.
In addition, according to a recent BBC investigation, ISIS also receives substantial income from looting and smuggling of antiquities from Iraqi and Syrian historical and archaeological sites. The primary market for the stolen objects is Europe and the Gulf states. Ten-thousand-year-old artifacts can fetch as much as $1 million each. An Iraqi intelligence official told the Daily Mail that ISIS earned £23 million in early 2014 alone by selling 800 items stolen from the ancient city of Al-Nabk near Damascus.
In 2014, ISIS also brought in approximately $45 million in 2014 from kidnapping for ransom.
The resolution doesn’t spell out specific penalties for countries found guilty of helping ISIS. It would require the Security Council to debate whether any violations have occurred and what punitive measures it would order. The resolution requires all 193 members of the UN to report within 120 days on measures they’ve taken to comply with it. The UN’s existing al-Qaeda sanctions committee will monitor and report on any progress.
All in all, it looks like a pretty shrewd move by Russia. Obama now has 120 days to report back how he plans to sanction US allies Turkey and Israel – or face a UN Security Council resolution calling for sanctions on the US. While the US would surely veto such a resolution, it provides an excellent opportunity for Russia to embarrass Obama and Israel by exposing their financial and military ties to ISIS.
This past week, the US also backed a Russian resolution to the UN Security Council supporting the Minsk Ceasefire.