DeirEzzor – Sound and Picture
Since IS announced the establishment of its so called “Caliphate”, It has been adopting a kind of centralized leadership. There is the “Shura Council”, which includes senior leaders of IS who set the public policy. There is also a prince and central Divans in each state to govern all aspects of daily life and even major battles. Moreover, there are several Divans, such as Zakat, Hosba, Education Divans etc.. The Prince stands as a supreme authority in the state and he is considered the representative of Shura Council, as he is responsible for issuing orders and public decisions in his areas. The prince’s position is followed by Divan princes who issue decisions in accordance with the orders of Shura Council and the general Prince, they are also responsible for overseeing the implementation of such decisions.
Recently, after the intensification of coalition forces’ raids over IS headquarters, IS tried to find solutions to sustain public affairs such as collection of taxes and Zakat, as the coalition strikes have dramatically limited IS’s movement. Abu Maryam, a shop owner in Albu Kamal city said to “Sound and Picture”: “whenever the coalition aircrafts approach, IS members leave their headquarters and disappear from streets as they are repeatedly warned by wireless devices to hide until the end of raids. Then they return to their places to hold civilians accountable on their dress and actions even before helping the wounded”.
The increasing number of coalition strikes that forced IS members to hide have reduced the amount of funds collected from taxes. It has also reduced the ability of IS to impose its grip on civilians. That forced IS to search for solutions to regain its power and increase the amount of collected funds. Hence, IS began to establish subsidiary Divans in villages and towns in its controlled areas using confiscated properties as headquarters under various arguments.
Abu Hussein, a civilian from Deir Ezzor countryside, said: “There were no headquarters in our town, patrols used to visit our town to collect taxes or zakat money and hold civilians accountable on any irregularities. Not having any headquarters in our town gave us a bit of contentment because this meant less harassments and more safety from coalition strikes. Nevertheless, IS recently had a house equipped to become Zakat Divan headquarter, and when we asked our relatives in neighboring towns, they told us that IS has established similar headquarters in their towns as either Zakat headquarters or security ones. “
Having done so, IS recalled the strategy of the former Iraqi regime, in the time of “Saddam Hussein” before the US war in 2003, where he set up oil refineries and security headquarters and bases in small towns, trying to protect the major refineries and bases from US forces, but this was no good at the time.
Creating new headquarters has raised a lot of questions and fears in the hearts of civilians, for this headquarters could probably be a good reason for the Russians to bomb villages and towns that were considered safe to civilians. Moreover, repeating the Iraqi scenario raises a lot of questions and brings to mind the theory saying that most of the IS leaders are former Iraqi military and intelligence members. However, this step has significantly contributed in the collapse of Iraqi regime, so could it put IS in the same shoes?