During a speech at Decker Auditorium in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Trump said he would go after ISIS-controlled oil fields and “bomb the s— out of ’em,” to loud applause.
“ISIS is making a tremendous amount of money because they have certain oil camps, certain areas of oil that they took away,” Trump said.
He continued: “They have some in Syria, some in Iraq. I would bomb the s— out of ’em. I would just bomb those suckers. That’s right. I’d blow up the pipes. … I’d blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left. And you know what, you’ll get Exxon to come in there and in two months, you ever see these guys, how good they are, the great oil companies? They’ll rebuild that sucker, brand new — it’ll be beautiful.”
Trump described a similar strategy to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who asked Trump whether he might be destroying the wealth of Iraq if he went after the country’s oil fields.
“There is no Iraq,” Trump responded. “Their leaders are corrupt.”
Cooper said Iraqis might disagree with him, but Trump pressed on.
“Excuse me, there are no Iraqis. They’re broken up into so many different factions,” he said.
Cooper also asked whether the US would need troops on the ground to protect the oil fields that Trump would rebuild after bombing ISIS out of them. Trump said he would put a “ring” of troops around the fields.
“You put a ring around them,” Trump said of the oil fields. “You put a ring.”
But if Trump had his way, the US wouldn’t be involved in these conflicts at all.
“I would love not to be over there,” Trump said. “That’s not our fight — that’s other people’s fights.”
ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, makes a glut of money from oil, but that’s far from its only revenue source. Experts say much of ISIS’ money comes from extortion and pillaging — essentially ripping off the people and institutions in territory it has seized.
Still, oil revenues make up a significant portion of ISIS’ funding. Local sources, oil experts, and Western intelligence officials told the Financial Times this year that ISIS ran “a sprawling operation almost akin to a state oil company that has grown in size and expertise despite international attempts to destroy it.”
Sources estimate that Deir Ezzor, the Syrian province that holds some of the most fruitful oil fields under ISIS control, produces 34,000 to 40,000 barrels of oil each day.
Several other oil fields the group controls produce 200 to 17,000 barrels per day, the FT found. The barrels sell for $20 to $45, depending on where they came from.
ISIS sells mostly to “independent traders” who then either sell to other traders or take the crude to refineries or local oil markets. The traders make a profit of about $10 a barrel, according to the FT.
Though ISIS might be making millions on oil now, it’s unlikely that the group can keep up at its current pace. ISIS is reportedly already struggling to keep up the aging infrastructure that allows the group to extract and sell oil. The FT reported that ISIS doesn’t have the technology or equipment to maintain the oil fields the group controls. Production is reportedly down in those fields since ISIS took over.