Americans are outraged over the beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff. We all want President Obama to defeat these savages. For any plan to be credible, it must acknowledge four important facts.
(1) Without oil, ISIS has no economy:
In 2012, crude oil was 84 percent of Iraq’s exports. Only 33 percent of Iraq’s GDP is generated from the private sector and many of those workers get much of their business from government contracts.
Currently, ISIS controls seven oil fields in Northern Iraq that produce 30,000 barrels per day (bpd). This is small compared to overall Iraq production in August, which was reported to be 3.1 million bpd, of which 2.44 million bpd was exported.
Most of country’s oil is in the south. The only place in northern Iraq with appreciable oil reserves is near Kirkuk, producing one million bpd. Any strategy against ISIS must involve keeping these terrorists away from Kirkuk and also destroying the few fields now under ISIS control. ISIS also controls refineries in Syria that produce 50,000 barrels per day. These should be targeted for destruction also.