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The Cosmopolitan Review

Yvonne Delaney Mitchell | 7/31/2014, 2:50 p.m.

Among the things I love about journalism is that you get to tell both sides of the story. You may recall in last week’s column, I wrote of ancient Mesopotamia, which was once known as the cradle of civilization. It is a region of the Middle East, which can best be located by today’s geographical description as ISIS territory. A recent front page article in The New York Times, Thursday edition, written by “an employee of The New York Times,” and reporter Ben Hubbard, covers the plight of Qadri, a businessman, who formerly lived in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, where he had a factory making children’s clothing. When his home came under heavy attack by extremists and the factory was bombed, he recounts that he had two choices: either flee to one of the refugee camps in Turkey or stay and be killed. But Qadri decided on a third choice and fled to the city of Raqqa.

Raqqa has been taken over by the jihadist forces, and they have set up a working government. The article goes on to say that whereas areas such as Aleppo are racked with food shortages and crime, Raqqa, which is home to approximately a million people, has established an orderly government. Accordingly, people like Qadri “will accept any authority that can restore a semblance of normal life.”

Traffic police officers keep traffic moving. The tax authority collects $20 every two months from shop owners, which is claimed to be less than the bribes formerly paid to the Assad government, for electricity, water and security. According to a Raqqa goldsmith, who, in his small shop, was dealing with a woman buying gold pieces with money sent to her by her husband from abroad, “I feel like I am dealing with a respected state, not thugs.”

Christians who remain in Raqqa have to pay a religious tax, and when shops close for Muslim prayers, Christians must close their shops as well, but they are alive and thriving. It is the people who are caught stealing who have their hands cut off. So all in all, the crime rate is very low, if not nonexistent.

Most interesting is the multiplicity of nationalities working harmoniously at all tiers, in all occupations and industries. Institutions such as the hospitals are functioning by keeping the skilled workers at their posts while assigning supervisors loyal to the Islamic cause in managerial positions “to ensure compliance with Islamic rules.” The leader of ISIS, Abue Bakr al-Baghdadi, has sought out the services of doctors and engineers, requesting that they travel to places such as Raqqa, stating, “Their migration is an obligation so that they can answer the dire need of the Muslims.” As a result, there has been an international mobilization of Saudis, Egyptians, Tunisians and Libyans, who have come to Raqqa to work together under the ISIS flag. According to an aid worker, “The Raqqa emir of electricity is Sudanese, and one hospital is run by a Jordanian, who reports to an Egyptian boss.” As we say here in America, “This is a government where everybody gets a taste.”