Abdalaziz Alhamza – Exclusive – Raqqa is being slaughtered silently
People of Raqqa have been suffering from poverty and difficult living conditions during the regime’s tenure. However, people’s living conditions became even worse under IS control. As IS applied the starvation policy on civilians to keep them vulnerable and make them easy to recruit under the pressure of hunger.
IS promoted a decree issued by Al-Baghdadi through the Diwan of Mosques and Lay-readers including: “the battles plunders will be divided between IS fighters (who will get four fifths) and the needy, handicaps, Orphans and IDP-s who flee from the regime controlled areas to the IS controlled areas provided that latter’s income is under 15000 SP monthly (these four categories will share one fifth of the plunders). The Khalifa retains the right to prevent this one fifth according to IS conditions. Despite no one can ever prevent this one fifth since It is due by Sharia and Sunnah, which IS claims it came protecting.
Those who will be given a share of the plunders are among the weakest and the largest class in Raqqa. A class that IS worked persistently to enlarge even more through its practices.
There were many charity organizations and associations that provided help to the poor in Raqqa, such as orphan care associations and organizations concerned with displaced people. However, right after IS took control, it shut down all civil organizations seized their assets, which belonged to the poor, and distributed them to its members considering It is a plunder. Moreover, IS prevented the entry of aid into Raqqa.
IS did not close those organizations in vain. By that, it was trying to increase the poverty and need of the people in Raqqa in an attempt to forcing the poor to refer to IS Diwans asking for help. This way, IS can take the role of the protector and the patron of the poor and pressurize them subsequently to join its troops or marry their daughters away to IS members by tempting them with high dowries. This strategy was clear in Shelters. IS worked on managing the shelters in which many marriage cases of poor girls happened in a short period of time. Displaced families were forced to give their daughters away for marriage and to join IS troops out of poverty and weakness not out of convenience.
IS also took advantage of beggars who wander around the streets, by forcing a major part of them to work as informers to its security office in exchange for allowing them to beg in streets.
The changes in Raqqa map and the battles movement in the north along with IS loss of 25% of the province and many cases of fleeing and disagreements among its fighters between Syrians and foreigners, All this has increased IS’s need to enhance its image before the public and gain their trust using billboards which were allowed to be used again by civilians who are aware now that IS is coming to an end.