National Security

UN adopts measure to cut off money to ISIS

The United Nations Security Council came together on Thursday to adopt a resolution targeting the funding supply for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The 15-member council unanimously approved the measure, which the United States and Russia drafted jointly, as part of an escalating focus on ISIS amid concerns about the organization’s ability to reach far beyond the borders of its self-proclaimed caliphate.

{mosads}Thursday’s Security Council session was led for the first time in its 70-year history by finance ministers, a gesture international officials insisted was a sign of their commitment to choke off ISIS’s cash.

“Our governments, in coordination with the U.N. and other multilateral organizations, have been countering ISIL for some time,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said at the meeting, using an alternate acronym for ISIS. “But we all know there is more we need to do together to degrade and destroy this brutal force of terror.”

The wide-ranging 28-page U.N. resolution expands existing measures to prioritize governments’ efforts to impose sanctions on people associated with ISIS as they work to snip the extremist group’s purse strings. It puts the U.N.’s anti-ISIS efforts on equal footing with its fight against al Qaeda’s financial networks and ties together existing sanctions that some officials worry have not been evenly implemented. 

ISIS has pulled in roughly $500 million from selling oil on the black market, Lew said on Thursday. It has made millions more in the form of ransoms that it collects from families of people held hostage and in the form of taxes on its residents.

“ISIL is a challenging financial target,” Lew said, calling for countries to ramp up their efforts to block the group’s oil sales and access to the financial market.

“While we are making progress to financially isolate ISIL, if we are to succeed we all must intensify our efforts, on our own and together at the international level.”

Passage of Thursday’s resolution also carried symbolic heft, showing that major global powers could come together to tackle ISIS. The U.S. and Russia, in particular, have been at odds in their efforts to uproot the group’s footing in Iraq and Syria, with differences over whether Syrian President Bashar Assad should stay in power.

This week, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the U.S. is “not seeking so-called ‘regime change,’ as it is known in Syria.” Still, Assad should not be in power to lead the country going forward, he maintained. 

Tags Jack Lew John Kerry

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