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.
Slick Islamic State videos depicting functioning governing offices and the distribution of aid fail to match the reality of growing deprivation and disorganized, erratic leadership, the residents say. A trumpeted Islamic State currency has not materialized, nor have the passports the group promised. Schools barely function, doctors are few and disease is on the rise.
In the Iraqi city of Mosul, the water has become undrinkable because supplies of chlorine have dried up, said a journalist living there, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his safety. Hepatitis is spreading and flour is becoming increasingly scarce, he said. ‘‘Life in the city is nearly dead, and it is as though we are living in a giant prison,’’ he said.
In the Syrian city of Raqqa, the group’s self-styled capital, water and electricity are available for no more than three or four hours a day, garbage piles up uncollected and the city’s poor scavenge for scraps on streets crowded with sellers hawking anything they can find to sell, residents say.