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Russia Deploys a Potent Weapon in Syria: The Profit Motive

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MOSCOW — The Kremlin is bringing a new weapon to the fight against the Islamic State militant group in Syria, using market-based incentives tied to oil and mining rights to reward private security contractors who secure territory from the extremists, Russian news outlets have reported.

So far, two Russian companies are known to have received contracts under the new policy, according to the reports:

Evro Polis, which is set to receive profits from oil and gas wells it seizes from the Islamic State using contract soldiers, and

Stroytransgaz, which signed a phosphate-mining deal for a site that was under militant control at the time.

The agreements, made with the Syrian government, are seen as incentives for companies affiliated with Russian security contractors, who reportedly employ about 2,500 soldiers in the country, to push the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, out of territory near Palmyra, in central Syria.

Most Middle Eastern wars are suspected of having some variant of this deal, but it is seldom made as explicit as in the Russian contracts.

“It’s all very simple,” Ivan P. Konovalov, director of the Center for Strategic Trends Studies, said by telephone of the deals, struck in December but just recently reported. “If a company provides security, then the country getting that service should pay. It doesn’t matter how the payment is made.”

In the petroleum deal, Evro Polis, a corporation formed last summer, will receive a 25 percent share of oil and natural gas produced on territory it captures from the Islamic State, the news site Fontanka.ru reported.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/05/world/middleeast/russia-syria-oil-isis.html?smid=tw-share

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