While U.S. warplanes strike at the militants of the so-called Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, truckloads of U.S. and Western aid has been flowing into territory controlled by the jihadists, assisting them to build their terror-inspiring “caliphate.”
The aid—mainly food and medical equipment—is meant for Syrians displaced from their hometowns, and for hungry civilians. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, European donors, and the United Nations. Whether it continues is now the subject of anguished debate among officials in Washington and European. The fear is that stopping aid would hurt innocent civilians and would be used for propaganda purposes by the militants, who would likely blame the West for added hardship.
…the aid convoys have to pay off ISIS emirs (leaders) for the convoys to enter the eastern Syrian extremist strongholds of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, providing yet another income stream for ISIS militants, who are funding themselves from oil smuggling, extortion, and the sale of whatever they can loot, including rare antiquities from museums and archaeological sites.
“The convoys have to be approved by ISIS and you have to pay them: The bribes are disguised and itemized as transportation costs,” says an aid coordinator who spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition he not be identified in this article. The kickbacks are either paid by foreign or local nongovernmental organizations tasked with distributing the aid, or by the Turkish or Syrian transportation companies contracted to deliver it.
“I am alarmed that we are providing support for ISIS governance,” says Jonathan Schanzer, a Mideast expert with the Washington D.C.-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “By doing so we are indemnifying the militants by satisfying the core demands of local people, who could turn on ISIS if they got frustrated.”
What becomes even more bizarre is that while aid is still going into ISIS-controlled areas, only a little is going into Kurdish areas in northeast Syria. About every three or four months there is a convoy into the key city of Qamishli. Syrian Kurds, who are now defending Kobani with the support of U.S. warplanes, have long complained about the lack of international aid. Last November, tellingly, Syrian Kurds complained that Syria’s Kurdistan was not included in a U.N. polio-vaccination campaign. U.N. agencies took the position that polio vaccines should go through the Syrian Red Crescent via Damascus when it came to the Kurds.
Western NGO partners of USAID and other Western agencies declined to respond to Daily Beast inquiries about international relief going to ISIS areas, citing the complexity of the issue and noting its delicacy.
Mideast analyst Schanzer dismisses the notion that ISIS can use an aid shutdown as leverage in its PR campaign: “I think this is false. In areas they control, everyone understands they are a brutal organization. This is their basic weakness and by pushing in aid we are curtailing the chances of an internal revolt, which is the best chance you have of bringing down ISIS.”
Just because liberal rags and news outlets found some Muslims they sort of oppose doesn’t mean this insanity is new.
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