The Importance of Financing in Enabling and Sustaining the Conflict in Syria (and Beyond)

Western Asia in most contexts. Possible extens...

Western Asia in most contexts. Possible extensions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Vol 8, No 4 (2014) > Keatinge

by Tom Keatinge


The availability, sources, and distribution of funding are critical issues to consider when seeking to address an on-going conflict such as the one we are witnessing across Syria and Iraq. In the Syrian case, whilst funds from states such as Russia, Iran, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Qatar support various elements, a key factor to consider in addressing extremist groups is funding provided by private donors, some of whom are attracted by the concept of ‘jihadi finance’, seeking the honour and reward of waging jihad by proxy. This article reviews the importance of financing for insurgent groups, focusing in particular on the highly influential enabling role played by private donor financing in the current conflict in Syria, as well as the sustaining role of the war economy as the conflict spreads. Finally, it considers whether, in its fourth year, this conflict can still be influenced by targeting sources of financing.

Keywords: Terrorism finance, Syria


The Syrian conflict has drawn support in the form of weapons, spare parts, supplies, and fighters from across the globe. But most importantly, the conflict has been enabled by the ready and generous supply of financing provided by a broad array of states and private individuals and it is sustained by the development of a highly lucrative war economy. It is thus not an exaggeration to say that financing is extremely important to all parties in the conflict, and that the availability of financing has substantially influenced  the course the conflict has taken thus far. Continue reading


There Is No al-Sham

Militants in Iraq and Syria are trying to re-create a nation that never existed.

BY Nick Danforth JUNE 17, 2014

Over the past few years, as Syria has dissolved into warring fiefdoms and Iraq has struggled to emerge from its disastrous civil war,American commentators have listed the many failings of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, upon which the Middle East’s state system was based. The 1916 arrangement divided the Ottoman Empire’s dominions in the Arab world into British and French “zones of influence,” laying the foundation for the region’s modern borders. The intense criticism of Sykes-Picot has provoked a backlash of sorts, as some analysts have suggested that piling blame on the agreement has distracted from what has really ailed the Middle East in the post-colonial period.

After capturing Mosul, Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) announced “the beginning of the end of the Sykes Picot agreement,” as the Guardian put it. The arrival of better-armed critics of the agreement seemed to herald a fundamental transformation of the Middle East’s borders — but behind ISIS’s recentsuccess lie a number of ironies inherent in both the group’s rhetoric and our own assumptions about the Middle East.

For all the imagination with which we’ve mentally remapped the region, we remain strangely wedded to the notion that political upheaval could reveal a new, more authentic set of Middle Eastern borders — based on ethnic and sectarian divisions, perhaps, or the re-emergence of some pre-imperialist geography. But recent developments suggest that if things do change dramatically, force and chance will play a greater role in determining what happens next than demography, geography, or history. Continue reading

Iraq crisis: ISIS militants push towards Baghdad -June 13 as it happened

Group claims mass killings of Iraqi troops, as militants battle security forces 50 miles from Baghdad – follow latest developments – follow latest developments

A man is executed in a video released by ISIS

A man is executed in a new video released by ISIS

Quote The Iraqi official confirmed numerous eyewitness reports that the militants flew a captured helicopter


Interesting if true. It is not a one nutter show according to Mosul governor. Although he is perhaps not in the best position to speak freely.




Quite wonkish but very revealing analysis of how Iranian proxies such as Kataib Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl al-Haqq and Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas have relocated from Syria to fight ISIS in Iraq.


A new New York Times article paints a picture of the Iraqi government in crisis, appealing for the US for help, threatening Iran will fill the gap if they refuse.

Quote “If you’re in an antique shop there’s a sign, ‘If you broke it, you bought it,’  ” the official, who is an adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, said. “I am not saying the Americans are responsible for everything, but they did not leave a well-trained army and they left us without any real air support, and the Obama administration really shares much of the blame.” Continue reading

What to do in Iraq


Members of the Iraqi security forces patrol an area near the borders between Karbala Province and Anbar Province, June 16, 2014

It’s widely agreed that the collapse of Iraq would be a disaster for American interests and security in the Middle East and around the world. It also seems to be widely assumed either that there’s nothing we can now do to avert that disaster, or that our best bet is supporting Iran against al Qaeda. Both assumptions are wrong. It would be irresponsible to embrace a premature fatalism with respect to Iraq. And it would be damaging and counterproductive to accept a transformation of our alliances and relationships in the Middle East to the benefit of the regime in Tehran. There is a third alternative. Continue reading

The Neighbours of the EU’s Neighbours: Diplomatic and Geopolitical Dimensions beyond the ENP

Posted on 22/11/2012  By Evita Mouawad


The EU neighborhood (Photocredit: European Commission)

The first day of the “Neighbours of the EU’s Neighbours” conference, hosted by the Department of EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies at the College of Europe in Bruges, focused on rising geopolitical dimensions and challenges in regions adjacent to the European neighbourhood, mainly in the Sahara and Horn of Africa, as well as Western and Central Asia.

The notion of “neighbours of the neighbours” was introduced by the European Commission in 2006 in a Communication on strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) stating: “We must also look beyond the Union’s immediate neighbourhood, to work with the ‘neighbours of our neighbours’[1].” In light of recent changes in the Middle East and the growing instability in the Sahel, one of the key questions addressed on 15 November 2012 was how the EU can create bridges between the different policy frameworks and models of co-operation, in order to elaborate new comprehensive strategies that would facilitate the stabilisation and development of the broader neighbourhood.

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The age of irrational petro-exuberance


In our now half-decade-old era of regularized black swans, a few energy thinkers are cautioning against a bubble of wishful enthusiasm with regard to U.S. oil — a widely embraced paradigm shift that, if true, would disrupt geopolitics from here to the Middle East and beyond. A shift is afoot, but not a new world, says Dan Pickering, co-president of Tudor, Pickering, Holt, a Houston-based energy investment firm.

The new abundance model goes like this: Americans currently consume about 18.5 million barrels of oil a day, of which about 8.5 million barrels are imported. But in coming years, the U.S. will have access to another 10 million to 12 million barrels a day of supply collectively from U.S. shale oil, Canadian oil sands, deepwater Gulf of Mexico, and offshore Brazil. Add all that up, and account for dropping U.S. consumption, and not only do you get hemispheric self-sufficiency, but the U.S. overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia as the biggest oil producer on the planet.

Pickering calls this calculus “a pipedream” founded on the extrapolation of data. Excluding Brazil, whose numbers he finds difficult to nail down, he is forecasting a lift in North American production of around 2.5 million barrels a day — up to 1.5 million barrels a day from shale oil, and another 1 million barrels a day from Canada. In 2020 and beyond, he says, the U.S. will still be importing some 6 million barrels a day from outside North America.

Technically, that does not make Pickering an outlier: The official U.S. Energy Information Administration also says the U.S. will remain a big importer into the next decade; the EIA import number overshadows Pickering’s — 7.5 million barrels of oil a day in 2020, or 40 percent of U.S. supply (see here, page 11).

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Millet, nation, community

Български: Етнографска карта на Европейска Тур...

Български: Етнографска карта на Европейска Турция на Ернст Равенщайн. English: Ernst Ravenstein’s Ethnographical Map of Turkey in Europe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Posted on April 3rd, 2012 in the category Western Balkans by TransConflict

As a signifier, Bosnjak – which is gaining traction as a national identity in Sandjak (in both Serbia and Montenegro), and among Balkan Muslims in Western Europe – is coming to connote a political identity associated with access to state power, “European” credentials and Islamic legitimacy.

By David B. Kanin

Arab Spring” works too well as a simple slogan; the term permits various protagonists to appropriate fluid, diverse, and interacting developments to serve very different agendas.  Brussels and Washington congratulate themselves as being the indispensable models for democracy and cultural diversity.  This goes beyond government propaganda – one NGO maven was cited in the Washington Post as saying Egypt (for example) had no alternative to moving forward in cooperation with the United States.

The “Occupy” phenomenon, which exists more as twittered electrons than as an effective popular movement, embraces Arab revolts as part of its rhetoric of global revolution.  Western Occupiers, however, have yet to demonstrate anything like the efficacy of those who organized so well and sacrificed so much last year in the Middle East and North Africa.  Asserting that their lack of organization and strategic coherence are strengths rather than weaknesses will get the much less than 99 percent who take to US and European streets only so far.

In turn – outside of Tunisia, perhaps – some of the Arab heroes of 2011 are finding themselves eclipsed by savvy politicians and opportunists associated with old regimes or patronage networks (to include traditional regional and tribal configurations).  Activists in Egypt and elsewhere could suffer the fate of those who drove revolutions in 1789, 1848 and 1968.  Some eventually could follow the example of Serbia’s Otpor, which adjusted to its post-Milosevic popular rejection by translating the credit it gave itself for the events of October 2000 into an entrepreneurial credential used to advertise services to would-be revolutionaries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

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