Iraq Cuts Off Wages and Pensions to ISIS-Held Territory

Meant to Hurt ISIS, Move Actually Makes Locals More Dependent on Them

In a very controversial move, the Iraqi government is reported to have cut off all payments, including retirement pensions and wages of state employees, in any territory currently held by ISIS. This cuts off all money flowing into roughly a third of the country.

The move is being presented by the government as an effort to cut off ISIS funding, saying that ISIS has been “skimming” some of the money to those employees and using it for their own operations. It is also seen as a money-saving measure for Iraq, whose budget is under pressure because of the war and the falling price of oil.

But some officials are warning that the move is actually empowering ISIS, by making residents who previously had an independent source of income, particularly retirees, suddenly wholly dependent on ISIS for their survival, and is seen by the Sunni population as a further severing of ties with Iraq.

That’s significant in a lot of these areas, particularly places like Mosul that have been under ISIS control for more than a year. The sense is that the Iraqi military is nowhere near attempting to retake these cities, and are simply “giving up” and ceding the area, and its population, to ISIS.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of