The German foreign intelligence agency has revealed the extent to which Iraqi counter-attacks have reversed the frontiers of the Islamic State, leaving them with just one major oil field to exploit.
As oil sales are the single most important source of income for ISIS, the loss of three significant oil fields will leave the Islamic State’s coffers seriously denigrated. Although they have lost 75 percent of their large fields, a combination of loss of markets and refining facilities means the actual daily volume attainable by Islamic State assets has dropped by a remarkable 95 percent.
Satellite imagery showing destroyed convoys of oil tankers, and enormous fires suggests the battles to retake the areas was fierce, or that the Islamic State has employed a policy of ‘scorched earth’ as it retreated away from the valuable assets.
Süddeutsche Zeitung reports the Islamic State has been thought of as the richest terror group of all time, thanks to their enormous oil revenues, and comparatively organised system of taxation on the people living within its bounds. In addition to extorting money and levying taxes on those it doesn’t kill, the self-proclaimed caliphate has also made unknown sums out of selling looted art and architectural fragments to unscrupulous Western art collectors.
Although initially pushing back a demoralised and corrupt Iraqi army to capture vast swathes of territory, the Islamic State now finds itself up against a coalition of Western and Arab nations prepared to fight rather than retreat.