With the increasing power and control of the Islamic State (IS), countries around the world are beginning to join the U.S. in the fight against the IS, including Canada. Countries that are part of the coalition against IS have provided support for airstrikes and the training of anti-IS forces. So far, Saudi Arabia has been fairly reserved in the fight, only providing training grounds where U.S. forces will be able to train Syrian rebels and other forces opposed to the IS and periodically assisting in airstrikes.
However, Saudi Arabia could also help fight the IS by using its influence over the oil industry. The IS is known as an immensely wealthy terrorist organization. Although it receives a lot of its income from exploiting and charging villagers tolls and taxes, the majority of its funds come from the many oil-fields that is has captured in and around Iraq and Syria. Analysts have estimated that IS brings in between $1 million and $3 million USD per day through the sale of oil pumped from captured oil fields that they have captured. Attacking the main source of its income would greatly cripple the terrorist organization.
As one of the top oil-producing countries in the world, Saudi Arabia could adjust its oil production volume in order to influence the global price of oil. If oil production was adjusted to offer a higher oil supply, oil prices in the world market would decrease. Due to the origin of the oil, large companies are not going anywhere near the oil that is produced from IS-controlled oil fields. The terrorist organization relies on third-party and black market buyers with smuggling networks who are already buying at a discount from IS, meaning the IS would be powerless to fight the decreasing price of oil. Targeting the finances of the terrorist organization could become a huge component of U.S. President Obama’s strategy to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State. A sustained dip in oil prices would mean losses of over $20 billion USD for Saudi Arabia. This may be a small price to pay, as Saudi Arabia holds approximately $1 trillion worth of U.S. assets.
In addition, with the IS continuing to increase in numbers and power, coalition countries must start looking for ways to fight the terrorist organization that do not involve direct physical military combat. As the IS continues to spread and instill fear with the recent beheadings of journalists and the arrest of a Chicago teen attempting to join IS, the top priority of the U.S. military should be to end the threat that the IS poses to the world. Kazutaka Mayuzumi