Low Oil Prices are Good for ISIS

Very interesting article from CNBC, one of America’s largest tv networks. The article says that the drop in oil prices i.e. currently at 35 dollars per barrel, is something good for ISIS. That makes sense even though it sounds strange in the beginning, given that ISIS has some oilfields under its control in Syria and Iraq. The article is written in a very diplomatic way, so I am just going to say the main point.

It is well known ISIS oil fields generate approximately 700 million dollars per year for ISIS. That’s a very big amount for a terrorist organization, actually a huge amount, but a very small one for the war in Syria and Iraq, given that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran are involved in this war. These three countries are the main combatant parties in Syria and Iraq, each one supporting some Sunni, Shiite or Alawite Muslim groups in these countries. Turkey is the main supporter of the Sunni Islamists in Syria and Iraq that we normally call “ISIS”. The Saudis support other Sunni groups, and the Iranians support the Iranian Shiites and the Syrian Alawites.

Map 1 Syria and Iraq

Σαουδική Αραβία Ιράν Τουρκία.JPG
The thing is that Turkey does not have any income from oil, because Turkey does not have oil to export. On the contrary Iran and Saudi Arabia earn billions from oil exports, and they are deeply hurt by low oil prices. The same is true for Russia. The article says that the oil revenues of ISIS are already hurt by the bombings of Russia, the United States and France, and also that they are not the only revenues of ISIS. I have to remind you that all terrorist organizations earn income from drugs, kidnappings, robberies, prostitution etc, but their most important revenues always come from countries that are benefited by these terrorist groups.

For Turkey to cover the losses in ISIS oil revenues is literally nothing. It is only a percentage of 700 million dollars. But the Saudis, the Iranians and the Russians are deeply hurt by low oil prices. If we see these countries as ISIS rivals, we can see that the relevant strength of ISIS is enhanced by low oil prices, at least when compared to its main rivals.

For the article see:
“Will low oil prices crush ISIS? Answer is not what you think”, December 2015

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