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Islamischer Staat Fahne
Image: picture alliance / AP Photo

UN sanctions against IS

Günther Birkenstock / sb
August 16, 2014

In an effort to stop the advance of "Islamic State" jihadists in Iraq, the UN Security Council has imposed sanctions, and the EU has decided to send weapons to Kurds to help fight the Islamists.


Among the sanctions imposed on supporters of the terrorist "Islamic State" (IS) group are travel bans and a freeze on foreign bank accounts. The sanctions passed by the United Nations only apply to six people so far but observers expect more names to be added to the "black list" soon.

On Friday, August 15, the UN Security Council passed the resolution unanimously, targeting supporters of the terrorist network in Iraq and Syria. Furthermore, all 193 United Nations states agreed to prohibit and prevent funding and recruitment for terrorist groups. This also means the member states are not allowed to purchase oil from reserves of which IS fighters have come into control.

The sanctions against IS supporters are the right move, says Hans-Joachim Heintze, professor at the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict at the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany.

"You can't directly influence militias," he told DW. "But they have contacts to states, governments and companies. And we can influence them."

The terrorists need money, means to communicate and logistics. This infrastructure, according to Heintze, can be destroyed through sanctions.

Not much new in resolution

Michael Brzoska, a professor at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy in Hamburg, says he believes the UN resolution will not be very effective in the war on Islamists in Iraq and thus has more of a symbolic meaning.

UN Security Council
UN sanctions are meant to stop funding to the terror groupImage: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

"These people have been known to intelligence for a while as being direct supporters of these groups, and they are blacklisted in the US and other countries. The UN resolution will not put much restriction on their activities," he commented.

Brzoska expressed disappointed in the new resolution. He said it does not contribute anything substantially new to existing UN decrees, and speculated that one reason for that is not much is known so far about the means used by backers of the IS terror group.

EU weapons against genocide

Shortly before the UN Security Council passed its resolution against the financial backers of the Islamists, the EU's foreign ministers convened in a special meeting in Brussels to discuss weapons exports for Iraqi Kurds to assist their war against the jihadists.

It was not immediately clear whether or not Germany would participate and deliver arms as well. Going by statements made by the country's Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, however, this option has not been ruled out.

She told the German tabloid "Bild" in an interview, "If the only way to prevent genocide is by using German weapons, then we must help."

International law expert Hans-Joachim Heintze sees the EU's decision to deliver weapons to Iraqi Kurds as a necessary evil, saying, "We have to do something to stop the IS terrorists. We are on the same side as the Kurds."

Irak Kurden Peschmerga Kämpfer in Stellung
Kurdish fighters, known as Peshmerga, are due to receive weapons from the EUImage: Reuters

Weapons from Germany, says Heintze, could help: "I believe the Kurds are fighting a war of self defense against genocide or something that comes quite close to that. The international community, and that includes Germany, cannot simply lean back and watch."

Airstrikes instead of weapons

Michael Brzoska, on the other hand, is critical of any exports of arms from the EU to the region. He believes they could end up destabilizing the situation in Iraq.

"It isn't only a conflict between the IS and Iraqi Kurds. There are massive conflicts among the different ethnic groups in Iraq. Strengthening the Kurds would give them a better position, of course, and the means to assert their own interests."

Brzoska says he believes a long-term solution would only be possible if a new Iraqi government can find a way to include all ethnic groups, thus exterminating the "Islamic State" politically from the inside out. That would mean, in particular, taking disadvantaged Sunnis into consideration.

Political stability, according to Brzoska, is much more effective than sanctions against jihadists.

In order to prevent the IS from advancing, Brzoska says a UN mandated military mission would be justified. Considering the grave human rights abuses carried out by the terror group, he argues the United Nations must consider its responsibility to protect: "Military strikes, airstrikes, on the IS make much more sense and help improve the situation in the middle term compared with the delivery of heavy artillery."

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