The phantom state

By Sam Jones, Erika Solomon and Ahmed Mhidi

‘They pay for everything’

In its polished online propaganda, Isis sometimes calls its health sector the Islamic State Health Service — the ISHS. The logo and typography are taken from the NHS, the UK’s free-of-charge state healthcare provider. The glossy pictures of doctors in their scrubs and sparkling well-equipped wards — featured in ISHS posters — could be too.
It is an illusion. True to its ambitions of statehood, Isis rakes in tens of millions of dollars each month from the resources in the territories it controls across half of Syria and a third of neighbouring Iraq. But while it holds more territory than some countries, and imposes taxes and provides some services for its ...

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