Since 3 July 2014, during which ISIS managed to seize large parts of Deir Ezzor province, eastern Syria, the group adopted a policy of so-called zakat and sought to get its financial revenues from taxes it imposed on electricity and water. Civilians in oil-rich Deir Ezzor are forced to pay taxes to ISIS so that it keeps supplying them with water and electricity.
Tax on water is a source of income for ISIS
ISIS has imposed a tax on water which civilians living under its held areas in Deir Ezzor must pay or it cuts off the water supply to their homes without hesitation . Some civilians are forced to pay a tax at a rate of thousand Syrian lira and others ten thousand.
Tunisian and Jordanians, Saudis and Egyptians ISIS members are the ones in charge of determining the taxes imposed on the residents of Deir Ezzor. Average house owners pay a tax of 1000 lira, and if the house is big then ISIS members can demand the sum of money they desire as civilians are left with two choices and the best of them is bitter.
Abu Hadi from the city of Myadin, east Deir Ezzor, spoke to us about his suffering concerning the situation of water supply in Deir Ezzor. He says that he works in the market of the city from 6 am to 6 pm to earn a living, pointing out that his work is sometimes intermittent and therefore he was unable to pay the tax ( 2000 Syrian lira per month), which led to the group cutting off the water supply to his house. He added that he brings water to his house from his neighbors at the current time after being deprived of it under the shade of the so-called Caliphate.
Sufferance of electricity
When FSA took over large parts of Deir Ezzor province in 2012-2013 the Assad-regime always tried to cut off electricity to the FSA-held areas as a punishment against civilians who declared their support to the FSA military factions and welcomed them to their villages, cities and towns.
Since ISIS took over most of the province of Deir Ezzor, the situation has changed from bad to worse. Even though the electricity power source in Syria is situated in the oil well of Koniko in rural Deir Ezzor (under ISIS control), civilians rarely see electricity, which pushed them to use electricity generators as a last resort. Huge electricity generators, which cost 1300 Syrian lira for every amp, are currently widely used by civilians in cities and towns of Deir Ezzor province.
ISIS members did not like this solution and have started to harass and crack down on generators owners in the province under many excuses, claiming that the generators are noisy and they disturb civilians. ISIS public service department forces the owners of the generators to pay a tax that is not compatible with the desired profit from their work.
One of the owners of the generators, who had previously worked in markets of Albu Kamal, east Deir Ezzor and stopped after the markets were negatively affected by ISIS policy, says that he bought a generator of electricity and installed it in the garden of his house and then started selling electricity to civilians in Albu Kamal. After that ISIS began to harass him, claiming that the sound of the generator disturbs civilians and that it pollutes the streets of the city. Now he is obliged to pay them a fee at 5000 lira for ‘’cleaning purposes’’.
Um Omar from Myadin confirmed that she only can get electricity from her neighbors now as she can’t afford to buy it from the owners of the electricity generators in the city following ISIS execution of her only son under charges of being a member of the FSA.
Life in Deir Ezzor is as difficult as its climate is. It is as harsh as its people are, however, oppression will not last forever in the province. Freedom is pricey. Be patient, Deir Ezzor, as every lira that has been stolen in the name of the ‘’ Caliphate’’ will return to you eventually.