ISIL Recruiting Incentives For Poor Youth

Filed in International, National by on September 29, 2014

IS (variously ISIS, ISIL) has recruiting centers set up, employing sophisticated social media to lure desperate young people from middle eastern countries with youth unemployment rates as high as 29%.

This rate is reported by the International Monetary Fund.  Ironically, IMF’s own lending policies encourage cut backs in social safety nets to aid those young people.

Analysts I am reading suggest that in addition to recruiting psychopaths and what the New Republic calls True Believers in Jihad, a significant group if not majority of IS foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria are unemployed youth in the most significant numbers from Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey and Egypt.  The Soufan Group’s work indicates these countries are the biggest sources of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq.  add to that list Saudi Arabia as  a large fighter source.

Ironically, these same countries, excluding Saudi Arabia, are recipients of IMF loans requiring squeezing social welfare budgets to pay  interest and repay loans.  These young recruits are paid $1,000 per month by an estimate from Jordanian government sources; one study reported pay as high as $150 per day.  This is huge money for people in this region.

Another irony; many of these same IMF borrowers with depressed economies offering little opportunity to their young are now members of the Coalition of the Killing joining us in the fight to wipe out IS.  Yes, to wipe out their youth who departed their borders for better “opportunities”.  Add to those being wiped out, about 2,500 disillusioned westerner youth  to be wiped out by our western members of the Killing Koalition.

These kids, becoming themselves hardened killers on the battlefield are led by seasoned warriors and Sheikhs from Sunni tribes and former Baathists cut loose by Bush and Bremer.  Some were later hardened in Abu Ghraib by General Sanchez and then released to seek retribution against us.

So once again, just like Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, our misjudgements come back to haunt us.  And the world is looking to us for solutions according to President Obama?  We are the “Indispensable Nation”? They actually want to be led by us again with this track record?  I kind of doubt that, with all due respect Mr. President.

But one fact is obvious.  Figuring into the mix of solutions for the degrading and possible containment of IS for those most affected, the middle eastern countries most threatened  is much work to be done on their economies to provide a future for their young people.

We certainly have a full plate of our own to restore opportunity for our young Americans.  Maybe we should work on that and if successes are experienced, shared with our middle eastern allies.  Then maybe we wouldn’t have to send our youngsters off to kill and be killed and our allies wouldn’t have to join us in killing their young.

It seems to me that in the mix of possible fixes for this is a reexamination of our role with many of these countries in enabling their governing and economic crises, juxtaposed with the immense wealth created within the companies engaged with the despots ruling these lands.  A lot of it carbon extraction related.  Maybe some of that wealth could be employed to fix what we broke in these far off lands.






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  1. Jason330 says:

    Austerity über alles !

    It will work eventually.

  2. puck says:

    ISIS is creating jobs in the US defense industry.

  3. Jason330 says:

    It is a virtuous circle. One predator drone strike creates 15 ISIL terrorists which in turn creates 10 new predator drones.

  4. Aoine says:

    and therefore:

    an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind…………

    and broke

    paid fighters wont fight without money – why don’t we invest in ways to break/bankrupts their funders (after all American and European bankers did a good job of that several years ago to themselves, so we know they have the experience)- then use the ISIL funders money to build economic opportunity and education in those areas.?

    or am I just too “pie in the sky?” and its to simple an idea…..nothing in it for Halliburton….

  5. cassandra_m says:

    I’ve repeated this before, but the smartest thing I heard anyone say right after the 9/11 attacks came from Bill Clinton. And his basic point was that people who have decent opportunities to care for their families, who have work that sustains them and who feel like they have a government that responds to them don’t decide to fly planes into buildings. Too many people heard him as being on the *Democracy Building* crowd and he might have been, but I heard it as an indictment of the governments and states that are so dysfunctional that this kind of thing is a real choice for people. We have the same problem with right-wing militias, I think.

  6. GTY says:

    If one does not learn from history then one is certainly doomed to repeat it.
    140,000 troops pulled out of the Middle East, contrary to those in the field telling the President to leave a contingency force. Who did Obama think would fill the void? An admin with a disastrous foreign policy and now we are playing catch up. The key to success is to surround oneself with people who are smarter than you and to have the wisdom to make the right decisions for this country. Unfortunately for America we have one who believes he has all the answers. God help this country.

  7. stan merriman says:

    GTY, what would an occupying U.S. force in Iraq have accomplished re: IS? IS was created in Syria, bleeding over into Iraq later. Are you saying the presence of some of our boots on the ground in Iraq, unwanted and uninvited would have stopped the Sunni led Iraq Army from abandoning their mission and arms because they did not want to fight fellow Sunnis? The command of the Iraq forces facing IS were Sunnis; they deserted and their troops followed. How would U.S. troops have stopped this? Utter nonsense.

  8. Jason330 says:

    “140,000 troops pulled out of the Middle East, contrary to those in the field telling the President to leave a contingency force.”

    Oh please. When was Dick Cheney “in the field?”

  9. Dave says:

    Sum total of OECD aid received by those 4 countries: 2011 – 6,958,800,000 2012 – 8,753,900,000. In contrast Tunisia, who received $2B in direct OECD aid in 2011 and 2013, has a 573M “loan” with the IMF (and 573M unexercised credit remaining).

    I would suggest that while direct aid is a factor in the economic development of these countries, what often is missed (or glossed over) is question of what they are doing with the aid. Are they using it effectively? Is it being used to ease social unrest caused by lack of economic opportunity (welfare for the unemployed as an example) or is it being used for development purposes to provide for a sustainable economy for their people? What is the basis for the economy of each of these countries? Is it oil-based? agricultural? how do they fit in the global economy? what to they export? anything?

    Tunisia has a diverse economy, ranging from agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and petroleum products, to tourism. In 2009, Tunisia was ranked the most competitive economy in Africa and the 40th in the world by the World Economic Forum. Airbus and HP are companies that are producing in Tunisia.

    If you examine data, the most significant negative factor for Tunisia is corruption. Some may call it tradition or culture or some other benign term, but it’s corruption in all areas of the economy and government. More economic aid will not fix corruption, since money is more often a corruptor than a benefit. So something has to change. Whether it is adaptation, growth, enlightenment, whatever, change is only possible by the people themselves. But change is only possible with desire. Absent desire, there will be no growth, no change. People are like that. What I want someone to do doesn’t amount to hill of beans. They gotta want it and as long as corruption remains a significant factor in their society, the disaffected will continue to volunteer for martyrdom and we will continue to oblige them.

  10. stan merriman says:

    Given the admitted failure of our intelligence in Syria (and Iraq) voiced by President Obama, are we to really believe that we were able to ferret out deep intelligence on the Khorasan Group and their intention to plant transparent bombs on airplanes headed to the U.S.? Or was this a fabrication or at least a gross exaggeration to justify our Syria attacks? Just asking. Have any of us seen serious press scrutiny of sources and these claims? No, the press has bought it without curiosity, excepting Intercept and Glenn Greenwald just like they bought the Gulf of Tonkin caper.

  11. stan merriman says:

    Thanks for this very astute analysis and opinion in this conversation, Dave.

  12. Jason330 says:

    I agree with Aoine. Follow the money.

  13. Dorian Gray says:

    I hate to say it, but the president was correct on 60 Minutes Sunday. We absolutely can go put fires out in extreme situations, but if Iraq isn’t ready to fight or has no appetite to be “Iraq” it’s game over. To say that troops should stay there forever is fucking ridiculous. And rest assured if you support an idea like the simpleton above you are saying that forces would need to occupy the country for at least 50 years. It’s cultural, social and generational.

    For example, until a Shia can live in a Sunni neighborhood with Sunni markets and a Sunni mosque and not feel fear for himself and resentment toward his neighbor it’s hopeless. Occupying the fucking place doesn’t solve the problem of which of Muhammed’s kin were the real prophet. (As if it really means anything anyway!) It doesn’t solve the problem of women being put in bags and needing a signed permission slip to leave the house. It doesn’t solve the unemployement issue. It doesn’t solve the education issue. Obama himself said that illiteracy is a huge problem and he’s correct.

    Until local factions stand up and say enough of this madness then all we can do is go kill people. Once they decide in numbers large enough to make a difference to join the rest of us in the 21st century the west can help with education, jobs, healthcare, etc. Until then they are totally fucked.

    Even our allies are terrible. Saudi and Yemeni governments are monarchy/dictatorships. Israel continues to annex land in the West Bank because the Old Testament says so. (Another one we are suppose to overlook I guess!) Egypt tortures people. Afghanistan is a joke. Syria equals Somalia. Does Iran have the bomb yet?

    Religion poisons everything.

  14. stan merriman says:

    Speaking of appetites to fight, reports this week indicate that the Free Syrian Army is pleading that our air strikes there stop, arguing that they are creating radicals and killing more innocents than degrading IS. Is anybody listening in D.C.?