Syria Daily, Dec 26: Is the Islamic State Failing to Govern?

18
1633

The Washington Post has published the latest in a series of media declarations that the Islamic State is failing in Syria and Iraq, not on the battlefield but in governing and delivering services in the areas that it controls:

The Islamic State’s vaunted exercise in state-building appears to be crumbling as living conditions deteriorate across the territories under its control, exposing the shortcomings of a group that devotes most of its energies to fighting battles and enforcing strict rules.

Services are collapsing, prices are soaring, and medicines are scarce in towns and cities across the “caliphate” proclaimed in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State, residents say, belying the group’s boasts that it is delivering a model form of governance for Muslims.

That is a bold and important declaration, portending the ultimate failure of the jihadists in the Syrian conflict and in its offensive which has claimed much of neighboring Iraq — a declaration similar to that of The New York Times on December 13, “Islamic State Imposes Strict New Order in Mosul, and Deprivation Is a Result”.

But what is the evidence in the article, written by Liz Sly from her base in the southeastern Turkish town of Gazientep?

1. A 1-minute video from October, showing women and children trying to get handouts of bread in Raqqa, the largest city in Syria held by the Islamic State:

2. A quote from an activist in Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, taken by the Islamic State in June: “Life in the city is nearly dead, and it is as though we are living in a giant prison.”

3. A quote from an activist in Deir Ez Zor in eastern Syria, claimed by the jihadists last spring: “The whole idea that it is well organized and an administrative entity is wrong. It is just an image.”

3. A Raqqa businessman saying Mosul, despite its problems, is in better shape than his city with people fleeing hunger and the Syrian regime’s bombing.

4. An aid worker in Syria, who says that Islamic State is cooperative “but they’re not smart, and they’re not capable” and are now “too big to control” themselves.

5. A photograph on Twitter declaring “jihad tourism”, with fighters eating a meal.

6. A US official saying that America provides aid to Islamic State-controlled areas with “health-care clinics and…blankets, plastic sheeting and other items to help the neediest citizens weather the winter.

7. “A notice distributed in Raqqa this month called on fighters who were shirking their duties to report to the front lines, and a new police force was created to go house to house to root them out.”

8. A conclusion from Abu Mohammed Abu Mohammed, an activist with Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently:

People are fed up with them and would like to get rid of them. But they don’t have the ability.

The claims stand in stark contrast to an equally-lengthy article published in September by Mariam Karouny, “In Northeast Syria, Islamic State Builds a Government”, also based on the testimony of “residents”:

While its merciless battlefield tactics and its imposition of its austere vision of Islamic law have won the group headlines, residents say much of its power lies in its efficient and often deeply pragmatic ability to govern….

In interviews conducted remotely, residents, Islamic State fighters and even activists opposed to the group described how it had built up a structure similar to a modern government in less than a year under its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

However, the Israeli daily Haaretz was eager this week to join in the pessimism about the future of the Islamic State, “Cracks within ISIS: Rivalries and Internal Disputes Could Lead to Small Breakaway Militias”:

Internal disputes and political rivalries within the Islamic State have recently led to a series of executions and armed struggles between commanders in the field, as well as attempts by volunteers from Iraq and Syria to desert or flee.

Related Posts

18 COMMENTS

  1. SYRiA ROUNDUP

    #1: Re; LIxz Sly’s Article: Who is Right?

    An ISIS-style might manage in the 7th century but it could never support today’s populations and economic levels which requires constant technological updates to accommodate more people.

    An ultraconservative state must be uncreative by nature–equivalent ot Pol Pot’s “paradise in Khmer Rouge Cambodia. Technologically and scientifically it is parasitic. You could make a long list of technology that would not exist today had ISIS won its way in 1750 or 1850 or 1950.

    In theory ISIS could train a technological class as the Soviets did but unless it seals its borders like the Hermit Kingdom in North Korea how can it retain them? ISIS type rule guarantees permanent poverty in which one’s only consolation is “the next world” assuming such a place exists.

    As in Russia, Khamenei, North Korea, Syria and other such mafia states, absolute power corrupts and absolute power will corrupts absolutely. ISIS tiny ruling class, born born, will live in palaces while everyone else barely survives if that.

    #2: ASSAD: “I support negotiations ON CONDITION that I retain control of the military and national security organs.” (paraphrased from Paradoxy).

    #3: Foreign jihadis change face of Syrian civil war

    Fighters from overseas are an increasingly dominant – and sometimes resented – force in the fight against Bashar al-Assad.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/25/foreign-jihadis-syrian-civil-war-assad

    #4. ALEPPO: There are reports of an ISIS security crackdown in which scores of activists and civilians have been arrested and risk torture and worse. I think new and recent Coalition Air Attacks have created a fear of air-ground coordination.

    #5: HAMA REMINDER: Assad forces evacuate Hama Military Airport: Media Center

    https://www.zamanalwsl.net/en/news/8114.html

    If so and should it lose Abu Duhur (which seems certain) and Nasiriyah, only two airbases would still retain coverage of the north and east–one near Salimeyeh (also at risk) and one near Latakia (possibly at risk). SInce regime forces can’t fight their way out of a paper bag without air cover and lots of imported non-Syrians, Assad’s downfall would speed up greatly.

    #6: DAMASCUS: When, if ever, will the regime take Jobar. It’s been trying for more than two years and has lost hundreds of fighters there. Here is a new and nifty video of rebels destroying an armored vehicle in Jobar.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkKJL77xk6s

    #7: Quite significant that the Islamic Front has abandoned “Islamic” and it’s now “fully merged” under the Levant Front–Hassan Hassan.

    #8: VIDEO: Captured ISIS fighter on how he was betrayed

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtj3M_Bb0z8&feature=youtu.be

    • I believe the withdrawal from Hama is just a redeployment. Moving jets a bit south doesn’t hurt their effectiveness, and since there is no ground threat the troops can be better used elsewhere.

      • But how far south. Article doesn’t say. I know the north is in reach from Latakia and desert area (which look vulnerable to neutralization especially after Deir Ezzor goes down) but are you sure bases further south can handle the job? I know the regime has one near Quysar. Is that in reach of Aleppo? Regime is going to have enough to worry about down there.

        • Bases in Qusayr, Shayrat and Tiyas can definitely reach Aleppo.

          Of course, it does also depend on the aircraft deployed. The best in regime arsenal can reach Aleppo from as far away as Dumayr, in Damascus. Up till now though, the regime has preferred using low tech L-39 and MiG-21over more sophisticated weapons like the Sukhoi class aircraft, so I am using those as “airfield range”.

          Though if true that the fogs have set in over the north, the aircraft may actually be redeployed to other fronts entirely. Doesn’t make sense to keep them in the north in the hope of maybe using them, when they can be deployed in the more arid Daraa and Deir Ez-Zour right now.

  2. Roundup: DEVELOPMENTS INDIRECTLY RELATED TO SYRIA

    1. Inevitable! RUSSIAN RUBLE ENDS RALLY DROPS 4% IN ONE DAY

    You can’t run an economy when you have no idea what the money will be worth from day to day or hour to hour. Do you dare sell? Do you dare buy?

    http://news.yahoo.com/russias-ruble-ends-5-day-rally-drops-4-114515235–finance.html

    #2: Foreign Affairs Quarterly: WHY LIBERAL NORMS TRUMP OLD FASHINED POLICIES (i.e., Mafia stares).

    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141212/g-john-ikenberry/the-illusion-of-geopolitics

    #3: Electricity and rail service to the Crimea has been cut.

    http://www.interpretermag.com/ukraine-live-day-312/#5934

    4. AP: Russia offers support to North Korea amid Sony hack

    Russia offers sympathy to North Korea over Sony hacking scandal

    http://news.yahoo.com/russia-offers-support-north-korea-153950552.html

    Corrupt mafia-style regimes with no checks cannot long tolerate those with more freedom and social mobility and must treat the latter as a natural and inherent “threat by example.”. Otherwise the example leasds to uppity questions such as “Why can’t we have such things too?”

    Using bad argument by analogies and relying on absolute media control, mafia regimes constantly try to sell their people on the idea that “you are far better off than folks in Paris, Colorado City or Madrid”—an effort akin to selling the line that “lead is gold” or that “cow manure tastes better than filet mignon. State media keeps saying “people over there have it even worse than here” and “You live in Paradise” but word gets round anyway except among the most rural gullible and least educated. Given an opportunity to “vote with their feet” which systems have people beating down the door and which systems drive off their best and brightest? You can’t beat that tell-tale foot poll.

    In all states, whether mafia ruled or democratic, the few will always seek wealth and power over the many. However, when threatened by plutocracy democracies at least have self-corrective mechanisms: Freedom of speech and press, the right to demonstrate peacefully, free elections with no barriers to campaigning, checks and balances. There is always the hope of correcting such things peacefully.

    By contrast what Mafia States offer no hope and to protect themselves they stick together politically and lend each other assistance against their own people when threatened,. Over violence can chance things in their cases because what these systems off is “a boot in the face forever” in George Orwell’s famous description

    • 5. Going dry: Lebanese tolerance isn’t what it used to be

      https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/commentaryanalysis/564591-going-dry

      6. Russia is forced to treble the size of bank bailout

      Russia trebled the size of its bailout of Trust Bank to Rbs99bn ($1.9bn) and said it would spend another Rbs320bn ($5.9bn) propping up two other lenders, laying bare the financial fall-out from its currency crisis and the oil price slump.

      The rapidly rising cost makes the bailout of Trust bank, which foundered as the rouble collapsed early last week, the second-largest ever seen in Russia. The mid-sized lender has now consumed a tenth of the money earmarked by the government last week for bank rescues.

      http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/c9ea818a-8cfe-11e4-9f52-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3N1OZIFmz

      7 SCREWED! . Dollar mortgage holders urge Russia to end ‘financial slavery’

      Thousands of Russians who took on lower-interest foreign currency-denominated mortgages in the years before the financial crisis and now struggle with repayments as the ruble’s value shrinks. Even before the crisis, interest rates of 10 to 12 percent on foreign currency loans — and 12 to 14 percent on ruble-denominated mortgages — mean many Russians will wind up paying double to triple the principal borrowed on 15- to 20-year loans. To make matters worse, interest rates are expected to rise further still. These folks can’t sell either. Bankruptcy may be their only option.

      In a letter to central bank chief Elvira Nabiullina, the group threatened a “powerful social explosion” if assistance isn’t provided.

      http://finance.yahoo.com/news/dollar-mortgage-holders-urge-russia-end-financial-slavery-151942771.html

      8. Russia’s ruble crisis: What’s at stake for European businesses

      http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2014/1226/Russia-s-ruble-crisis-What-s-at-stake-for-European-businesses

      • 9.. The Economist explains: WHAT’S GONE WRONG WITH RUSSIA’S ECONOMY

        The problems were long in the making, go back long before the Ukraine invasions and stem from Putin’s failure to diversify the economy while oil prices were high. Instead of addressing real problems which also include massive corruption enabled by increasing authoritarianism, Putin chose to restore the costly Soviet empire instead against the will of former subjects. This required alienating the West and spending a fortune on military expenditures that would not have been needed otherwise.

        http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/12/economist-explains-16

        • 10. The ruble slid, eroding its biggest weekly rally in 16 years, in a signal that forcing Russian exporters to sell foreign currency may not be enough to shore up confidence as the economy verges on a recession.

          Common Sense: Any cure which forces business to do make moves against their economic interest must hurt such businesses and therefore damage the economy further down the road in return for for the temporary and immediate appearance of tranquility.

          Meanwhile the government risks burning through its rainy-day funds in three years if it doesn’t change the budget structure, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters in Moscow today.

          http://finance.yahoo.com/news/ruble-set-best-week-16-093156904.html

    • So long as ISIS behaves itself, avoids fighting other rebels and attacks ISIS and the regime, I’m all in favor. Only if and when that changes should we do so. Meanwhile, I’d be wary of regime propaganda distorting any problems with ISIS. When the regime falls, whoever rules is going to need economic help and a revival of business and tourism. No one is going to want a new, impoverishing and alienating replacement of the sort ISIS has provided, as so well described by Liz Sly. Ultimately its hard to pull off without popular support.

  3. 9. THE LEVANT FRONT: Can Rebels in AlEPPO UNITE & WHAT IF THEY DO?

    On Christmas Day, the largest Sunni Islamist rebel groups in Syria’s Aleppo Governorate—except al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State—announced that they have united under a joint command. The new rebel coalition is called al-Jabha al-Shamiya, Arabic for the Levant Front (or, if you prefer: “the Shamiya Front”). Its creation follows months of negotiations held in Turkey and northern Syria between the five member factions, representing a broad array of rebel forces.

    This comes at a time when victories elsewhere are likely to make substantial rebel forces available in Idlib and Aleppo Provinces and while the Coalition has finally begun bombing ISIS in Aleppo.

    Details and analysis from the Carnegie Institute:

    http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=57605

    10. Hidden Camera Reveals Chilling Life Under ISIS Control

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6Z3wRBqPCU

    11. “I was drugged and forced to witness atrocities.” –ISIS prisoner.

    In one case a bride was executed because her wedding dress bared neck and arms.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXf5VjWaNd0

    12. Army apache does a job on ISIS

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3gECsHEe0Q

    13. ALEPPO: Hzem movement fighters are taking control of the factory zones captured in Handarat.–Tahrir Sy.

    • 14. UNLESS THIS INCREDIBLE VIDEO USES OLD CLIPS, ZAHRAA AND NOBL MAY BE GOING DOWN IN JAN ATTACK !!!

      The video is dated today (December 26) shows events actually occurring today it looks bad for the regime. I don’t recall seeing a video like this, especially with so much fog which heavily favors the rebels by preventing the usual air cover for defenders.

      After a planning stage you see what are reportedly JAN fighters storming regime positions. You see massive explosions typical of suicide bombing attacks (smoke rising high in the sky). .Benefitting from what appears to be a heavy fog, attackers manage a daytime “jead start” attack and appear to be advancing at a hell of a rate. They continue to do so as darkness falls. Lots of grenade throwing to clear positions.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKQkIW767O0&feature=youtu.be

      Uygar Atgas says Assad has brought 6,000 foreign Shia fighters into Aleppo to tighten a siege he hasn’t yet managed to create. As UA notes, one man fighting for his home is better than 10 hired foreign thugs. I”d add that the intense hate inspired by the Genocide Regime’s crimes (which every fighter has seen) trumps any amount of money when it comes to motivation. When such mass intimidation methods don’t succeed initially, they actually begin to work strongly against a regime, especially when the morale and pay of its own fighters is dropping.

      • 15. MORE FROM ALEPPO

        –A post from Ibn Nabih (2 hours old) also alludes to the previous video as if the action were current. Let’s hope so.

        –Activists warn of a plan to convert the city of Aleppo into a Shiite city by settling families of Iranian militias as was done earlier in Homs and Damascus. “Every empty house in the western districts of Aleppo is inhabited by the family of an Iranian Shiite militant, or a fighter from Hezbollah or Houthi or Iraqi Shiite militias,” one activist said. Activists also warned the people of Aleppo of the consequences of leaving their homes to these foreign families, stressing that there is a plan to convert the city of Aleppo into a Shiite city. Another source said that the residents of the city are currently reluctant to sell their homes in Aleppo, because the real estate buyers pay such little sums of money to the owner and sell it to Iranians at double the prices. It’s bad enough that Iran has pretty much taken over the Syrian government and military.

        http://syrianobserver.com/News/News/Iranians+Settle+in+Aleppo

        —Fighters from “the Green Brigade” in #Aleppo pledge allegiance to #IS Al-Baghdadi. Source: Zaid Benjamin.

        –The Idlib base 101st infantry division has moved its fighters to Aleppo–Thomas Van Linge. That could fit some reports that the proportion of non-Islamist rebel fighters there is increasing. Islamists dominate in Idlib and East Ghouta.

    • Ivan,

      That’s a fair point, but I didn’t put a conclusion in this post because I think it is too soon to tell. Articles which make sweeping claims like the WP could be right, but I don’t believe we are at the point where declaration of “ISIS succeeds” or “ISIS fails” can be made.

      S.

  4. “The claims stand in stark contrast to an equally-lengthy article published in September”. Of course, things could well have changed since September, so both claims could be factually more or less true.

  5. […] 10. Syria Daily, Dec 26: Is the Islamic State Failing to Govern? 26 December 2014 / EA Worldview The Washington Post has published the latest in a series of media declarations that the Islamic State is failing in Syria and Iraq, not on the battlefield but in governing and delivering services in the areas that it controls: The Islamic State’s vaunted exercise in state-building appears to be crumbling as living conditions deteriorate across the territories under its control, exposing the shortcomings of a group that devotes most of its energies to fighting battles and enforcing strict rules. Services are collapsing, prices are soaring, and medicines are scarce in towns and cities across the “caliphate” proclaimed in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State, residents say, belying the group’s boasts that it is delivering a model form of governance for Muslims. […]

Leave a Comment