Operation Tidal Wave II will not only affect the financial infrastructure of the caliphate
Russian military operations in Syria have long made U.S. airstrikes look less effective – even more so after yesterday’s successes by the Syrian army (Caliphate in Two-Front War). Today there are two news stories to counter that perception: the drone attack on "Jihadi John" and the announcement of the Pentagon, where, according to the New York Times, it has been decided to deprive IS of an important source of income with a wave of attacks on oil fields.
Whether the drone strike killed Mohammed Emwazi, a.k.a. Jihadi John, has not yet been reliably confirmed. Undeniably, the public attention is already for the attempt of targeted killing of an IS brutal icon. Jihadi John appears in several IS capital videos.
The targeted killing clearly aims at the inner core of the IS. This is a propaganda success against the Russian military operation, which has been accused in Western and Arab media that its "Attacks against the IS" mainly aimed at other targets.
similar can be said of Operation Tidal Wave II (Tidal Wave 2) propagated via the New York Times with broad public coverage. The naming is based on bombings by the U.S. Air Force during World War II of oil installations in Romania controlled by the Wehrmacht. According to the Pentagon, the goal of Tidal Wave II is to attack the oil production of eight major oil fields (Omar, Tanak, El Isbah, Sijan, Jafra, Azraq, Barghooth, and Abu Hardan) in order to prevent the "Islamic State", who controls the fields, "painful financial damage" .
We intend to shut it all down.
Col. Steven H. Warren
According to U.S. Treasury estimates, IS’s oil revenues are around $40 million a month, or about half a billion dollars a year. American military analysts estimate Omar oilfield revenue at 1.7 million to 5.1 million, according to NYT. For Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, there is no doubt that the oilfields in northeastern Syria’s Deir ez-Zur province are an important source of financial infrastructure "important pillar of the IS financial" of the IS.
Image: U.S. Air Force/common
A two-part background report published in late October – at the time of the first media-reported coalition attacks on the Omar oil field – in the U.S. publication The Fuse lays out how uncertain the revenue estimates are. However, with the tenor that they could turn out much higher, because the IS significantly over customs also from trade, so not only from the "Forderpreis", profits.
The report, which comes from an energy policy expert at a Washington consulting firm, is noteworthy for two reasons. Weil er einmal eine Teil-Erklarung fur den Frust liefern konnte, von dem im New York Times-Bericht die Rede ist, namlich dass die US-Militars daruber erstaunt waren, wie schnell Schaden an olanlagen, verursacht durch vorangegangene Luftangriffe, wieder repariert werden konnten. And secondly, related to this, because it suggests that the attacks on oil production are not only damaging to IS.
Schnell reparierte Schaden und der olhandel
While it is quite possible that the damage caused by the U.S. and French attacks to oil extraction and crude oil processing facilities was repaired remarkably quickly by skilled engineers or technicians, as the U.S. Army leadership ames, according to the NYT, one is somewhat surprised that IS has such professionals at its disposal.
But the reason why oil sales continued after the attacks, i.e. why processed oil continues to be available for sale, could also be due to a coarser quantity of smaller facilities for further processing, as reported by The Fuse. The local refiners, who process the required oil in makeshift facilities using simple techniques, are the main buyers of the crude oil required under IS control, according to the publication.
It is possible that the U.S. fighter jets have not attacked these facilities so far because they have been targeting civilians with them. This branch of production not only supplies oil to the militias in western Syria, for example, but also to parts of the population. In addition, it contributes to the livelihoods of those involved in the oil trade. There have been repeated reports in the past that the government in Damascus is buying not only natural gas but also oil from IS through intermediaries.
Accordingly, the attacks on the IS infrastructure are a delicate operation, because an intensified wave of attacks risks consequences that affect not only the IS. Oil supply, production and trade are important not only for IS, but also for parts of the country not under IS control and for civilians who live on it, with already limited economic opportunities in the devastated country.
It will be interesting to see how the U.S. military deals with such collateral damage to be feared. Meanwhile, after yesterday’s Syrian army successes linked to Russian attacks – which also hit IS at neuralgic points – the broader picture is that Russian and U.S. attacks are complementary when looking at events from Raqqa.