The Islamic State is undergoing such economic woes that the group is now forced to cut off free Snickers bars and energy drinks it previously provided to its hungry and thirsty militants.
Following airstrikes on large stores of cash and bank vaults, as well as continuous hits against oil trucks and facilities, ISIS is having a difficult time maintaining a strong revenue flow and is looking to make several major changes in a time of want, according to a Tuesday Associated Press report.
The first and most obvious change that will be felt on the battlefield is the newly decreed removal of free Snickers bars and energy drinks. Such a move will likely irritate many of the fighters, as they have grown accustomed to a large swathe of benefits since joining ISIS. These benefits were once possible because of easy tax revenue, oil revenue and cash stores. Prices for basic goods have spiked in ISIS-held cities in both Iraq and Syria. Raqqa, the group’s Syrian headquarters, has been hit especially hard — electricity is even strictly rationed.
In recent months, ISIS has already cut the salaries of its soldiers by around 50 percent.
At least in Fallujah, Iraq, rations have been sized down to two meals a day. Fighters who once pulled in $400 a month are now making nothing.
Aside from cutting costs, ISIS is trying out new revenue-raising techniques, such as releasing civilian detainees in Fallujah at $500 a pop. ISIS is also attempting to fine people based on minor dress code violations, rather than simply whipping them.
Still, one analyst told The Associated Press that the end of Snickers bars distributed in food baskets doesn’t mean ISIS is about to crumble.
“I don’t think this is fatal for IS,” Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, analyst with the Middle East Forum, said. “I still don’t see internal revolt as what’s going to be the outcome.”
Rather, the end of free Snickers represents a sign of “decay and decline.” There are likely to be many more signs in the months to come.
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