UN Security Council to choke off Islamic State's funding
New York (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The United Nations Security Council on Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at choking off millions of dollars in earnings from oil smuggling, antiquities trafficking and ransom payments to the Islamic State group.
Russia drafted the initial text, which was co-sponsored by more than 35 countries in a show of international resolve to confront the jihadist threat.
The United Nations is increasing sanctions against the jihadist movement that last year overran large swathes of Syrian and Iraqi territory.
The resolution, which goes after other Islamist groups as well, like the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, urges all 193 countries of the United Nations to take "appropriate steps" to prevent the trade in cultural property from Iraq and Syria
It calls for sanctions against individuals and entities that trade in oil with the Islamic State group and other terrorist groups, thus funding their activities. A report by the UN's al-Qaida monitoring team released in November had estimated that the jihadists earned US$ 850,000 to US$ 1.65 million per day from oil sales last year.
The UN document reminds governments worldwide that they must "prevent terrorists from benefiting directly or indirectly from ransom payments or political concessions" to secure the release of hostages. This provision was directed at European governments, which have found ways to circumvent the ban on paying ransoms to win the release of captive nationals.
The resolution also puts fresh pressure on Turkey, seen as a transit point for oil deliveries, with trucks often returning to Iraq or Syria with refined products.
However, experts believe it will not be easy to enforce the resolution because of the many go-betweens with jihadists and the large amount of money involved.
Still, "This is the most comprehensive resolution addressing the issue of terrorism," Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari told reporters. His US counterpart, Ambassador Samantha Power, agrees. The resolution, she said, is part of "a comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State group.
Meanwhile, IS militants continue to advance upon al-Baghdadi early on Thursday, in the western Anbar province, not far from an Iraqi air base that is home to about 300 US Marines.
Although engaged in fierce clashes with Iraqi government forces, IS militants had not directed any attack on the nearby air base, said a Pentagon spokeswoman, quoting local sources.
Likewise, IS's latest attack has not fazed one of Iran's top military leader, who said the jihadists are near the end. "Considering the heavy defeats suffered by Daesh and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, we are certain these groups are nearing the end of their lives," said the General Qassem Soleimani was quoted as saying. Daesh is the acronym of the Islamic State's Arabic name - ad-dawla al-islāmiyya.