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Analysts: Islamic State is turning into quasi-state, not without foreign assistance

September 16, 2015, 16:32 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© AP Photo/Militant Website, File

MOSCOW, September 16. /TASS/. The process of turning the terrorist group that calls itself Islamic State into a quasi-state with its own army, police, budget, taxes and social structure could never have proceeded without the outside assistance that has been pouring in from the West and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, polled experts have told TASS.

The IS emerged as an al-Qaeda cell in Iraq in 2013. Virtually in no time it grew out of proportion to have joined the war in Syria as an actor in its own right. In the summer of 2014, IS militants stormed and seized Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, to have declared the emergence of a Caliphate stretching from Aleppo, in northern Syria, to Diyala province, in the east of Iraq, with a population of six million.

President of the Religion and Politics Institute Aleksandr Ignatenko says that when it was still embryonic, the IS received funding and instructions from several countries, mostly Qatar. Ignatenko, a member of the Presidential Council for Interaction with Religious Organisations, recalled that Qatar hosts the US armed forces command in the Middle East.

"There is documentary evidence that at a certain point, Qatar transferred to the Islamic State a lump sum of $300 million. But it is extremely difficult to track down the handover of cash or transfers through charity and human rights funds in various parts of the world. In any case, it is known that the United Arab Emirates have declared as a terrorist organisation the Karama Fund, registered in a Swiss bank in Bern, through which the IS was financed," Ignatenko told TASS.

Alongside foreign sponsors, the Islamic State has financial sources of its own, he remarks. "The IS derives mammoth profits from dumping in oil trade with Turkey and Jordan. Odd as it may seem, the government of Syria’s President Bashar Assad is forced to purchase oil for its army from the very same Islamic State at grossly overcharged prices," Ignatenko said.

"Taxes on production, trade and poll tax on each gentile and the confiscation of properties from non-Muslims are another major source of the IS leaders’ revenue," Ignatenko went on to say. "Art smuggling is the third major source. I was the first to have noticed that IS terrorists stage real shows of destroying not the original ancient statues, but their plaster replicas. The originals go to the black market. And lastly, trade in prisoners and slaves, quite reminiscent of the Middle Ages, is another major source of incomes for the IS.

"It was the United States that created a favourable environment for the Islamic State to crop up and thrive. The U.S.-led international coalition, created ostensibly for struggle against the Islamic State, in reality is a phoney. Of the 60 member-countries, only two or three have been dealing pin-point strikes against IS positions. The United States looks pretty much like the "Valiant Little Tailor" — a fictional personality from a tale by the Grimm brothers, who was boasting he was capable of defeating ‘seven at one stroke.’ But nothing of the sort has happened yet.

"Only a new, wide international coalition involving Syria’s government army, armed Syrian opposition and neighbouring countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and also Russia and the United States would be capable of defeating the Islamic State. The Russian leadership has underscored this idea more than once," Ignatenko said.

President of the Geopolitical Problems Academy, Dr. Sc. (Military Affairs) Konstantin Sivkov recalls that according to his estimates, the IS budget stands at several hundred billion dollars. "This allows the IS leaders to have an army of 100,000-150,000 militants on their payroll. Without support from the outside, the Islamic State would never have been able to retain the seized territories, let alone grow far and wide," Sivkov told TASS.

In his opinion, Islamic State is Washington’s main tool for destabilising the situation in the Middle East. "The United States’ aim is to shake loose the situation in the region with the ultimate aim to regain key positions in the Middle East, which earlier went out of Washington’s control," he said.

Sivkov believes that from the geo-strategic standpoint, the United States expects that after a hypothetical overthrow of the Bashar Assad government in Syria, Islamic State will be moving towards Central Asia and the North Caucasus, from where it would be able to pose a threat to the security of Russia and China. "In Europe, the plan has worked. The hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and North Africa will now require colossal costs to support, which would considerably harm the EU’s economic potential. The U.S. then will find it far easier to push ahead with the Trans-Atlantic Cooperation project it pins great hopes on," Sivkov said.

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