Tackling with the Rising Illicit Oil Trade in the Middle East
Illegal oil trade is one of the rising phenomenon in the Middle East and some of the African countries. For Syria and Iraq the ongoing armed conflict but for Libya, the failure of state building process is the major factor.
Regarding Syria and Iraq, very existence of ISIS and its terrorism aiming gain control and power over the region is a well-known fact. Its widespread or systematic attacks directed against any civilian populations, numerous atrocities, mass executions and extrajudicial killings are only one side of Janus, on the other side there is financing of terrorism.
According to the U.S. Intel Report, Islamic State radicals gain more than $3 million per day or $800 million a year, by selling oil at roughly half the official price on the black market, while also earning huge sums from human trafficking and extortion. The Islamic State group which seized huge terrorizes in Iraq and Syria, is now controlling eleven oil fields in both countries.
As it is underlined in the UN Security Council Resolution 2170 (2014):
“Oilfields and related infrastructure controlled by ISIL are generating income which support their recruitment efforts and strengthen their operational capability to organize and carry out terrorist attacks.”
At the Statement by the President of Security Council, similarly it was underlined that:
“Oilfields and related infrastructure controlled by terrorist organizations could generate material income for terrorists, which would support their recruitment efforts, including of foreign terrorist fighters, and strengthen their operational capability to organize and carry out terrorist attacks.”
Then the Security Council reminds all States that they are required to ensure that their nationals and any persons within their territory not engage in any commercial or financial transactions with or for the benefit, directly or indirectly, of the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” and “Jabhat Al-Nusra” notably with respect to oil in Syria and Iraq.
ILLICIT EXPORT of LIBYAN OIL
The situation in Libya regarding illegal oil trade or illicit export of crude oil from Libya is much interesting.
Firstly, on the Resolution 2144 adopted by the Security Council at its 7136th meeting, on 14 March 2014, UN Security Council express its support to efforts by:
“Libyan government to resolve peacefully the disruptions of Libya’s energy exports and reiterating that control of all facilities should be transferred back to the proper authorities”
3 days later, on 17 March 2014, American navy Seals have seized a North Korea-flagged tankerthat had been loaded with crude oil at a rebel-held port in eastern Libya. The operation to take control of the Morning Glory took place a week after Libya failed to prevent the tanker from leaving the rebel-controlled eastern port of Es Sider (Rebel leaders have been blockading eastern oil ports since last summer, calling for autonomy for Cyrenaica and a greater share of Libya’s oil wealth) loaded with an estimated $20m (£12m) cargo.
On 19 March, UN Security Council adopted a new resolution. In the Resolution 2146, Council underlines and notes:
“The primary responsibility of the Libyan authorities in taking appropriate action to prevent the illicit export of crude oil from Libya.”
“The letter of 10 March 2014 from the Libyan Government to the President of the Security Council and expressing concern that the illicit export of crude oil from Libya undermines the Government of Libya and poses a threat to the peace, security and stability of Libya.”
Then Security Council authorizes Member States to use all measures commensurate to the specific circumstances, in full compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law, to carry out such inspections and direct the vessel to take appropriate actions to return the crude oil, with the consent of and in coordination with the Government of Libya.
The resolution also gives the sanctions committee the authority to blacklist any vessel that attempts to illegally transport Libyan crude oil, with blacklisted vessels being temporarily barred from international commerce.
LIBYA OILS VALUABLE THAN SYRIA AND IRAQ?
The legal measures adopted regarding illicit export of crude oil from Libya is a strong than measures adopted for illegal trade of oil in Syria and Iraq. However it has to be vice versa. Why? The reason is proportionality. We can understand the underlying reasons, why legal measures against draining the ISIS’s financial sources are inadequate or why they have to be strengthen, if we look at the several factors to understand
- The risk created by ISIS in the region and the atrocities or violations are far beyond risk and atrocities of the rebels in Libya.
- Comparative financial analysis of the oilfields controlled by rebels in Libya and ISIS
- Comparative analysis of dependency of the global oil market to Libyan oil and Syria-Iraq oil.
Given these premises, it is rational expect Security Council to issue a special resolution dealing with the financial sources of ISIS especially about the illicit oil trade.