US must help protect world’s cultural heritage in Iraq

“US must help protect world’s cultural heritage in Iraq”

by Jabbar Jaafar via “FoxNews

April 11, 2015: In this image made from video posted on a militant social media account affiliated with the Islamic State group purports to show a militant taking a sledgehammer to an Assyrian relief at the site of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, which dates back to the 13th century B.C., near the militant-held city of Mosul, Iraq. The destruction at Nimrud, follows other attacks on antiquity carried out by the group now holding a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in its self-declared caliphate. The attacks have horrified archaeologists and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who last month called the destruction at Nimrud "a war crime."

Despite having developed advanced technology and having access to a huge reserve of weapons, including jetfighters and drones, the U.S and its allies failed to prevent ISIS terrorists from destroying  and  bulldozing irreplaceable archeological sites in Mosul earlier this year. The sites, Nimrud and Hatra, are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The terrorist group has mocked the American superpower and its allies and succeeding in successfully destroying a part of mankind’s cultural heritage. Statues, artifacts of the ancient  Mesopotamian civilizations have disappeared before their eyes. There was no reaction to that savage act.

If a superpower like the United States fails to prevent the ISIS terrorist group from destroying our cultural heritage sites, sites that are an integral part of the lives of the people of Iraq and the cultural heritage of the entire world, how can it expect to build and promote a strategic relationship with the people of the region where its vital interests lie?

After the catastrophe took place the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, declared that the protection of these archeological sites were not on the military’s list of  priorities.

If a superpower like the United States fails to prevent the ISIS terrorist group from destroying our cultural heritage sites, sites that are an integral part of the lives of the people of Iraq and the cultural heritage of the entire world, how can it expect to build and promote a strategic relationship with the people of the region where its vital interests lie?

This is the second time that top military generals from the United States have disappointed Iraqis in the United States and sapped confidence in their leadership.

The first time happened when coalition forces, led by the United States, entered Baghdad and toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime. Military forces only offered protection for the country’s Ministry of Oil, whereas the country’s other governmental organizations, including its financial institutions and the national library — where thousands of invaluable books and manuscripts were set on fire — where left unprotected. Iraq’s national museum was also left vulnerable to burglary and thousands of irreplaceable artifacts and relics were looted and smuggled outside the country.

All of this happened right before the very eyes of the U.S. military which took over Baghdad.  When military leaders were asked why they allowed this to happen they offered the same excuse, “the protection of the cultural establishments is not on the list of our priorities.”

The carelessness indifference of the U.S. military’s leaders has bolstered speculation and rumors —  dating back as far as 2003 — by Saddam loyalists and fundamentalists that American forces occupied Iraq in order to steal the country’s oil wealth along with its other fortunes and serve to its own interests unilaterally.

These concerns and suspicions convinced a lot of ordinary Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq that the U.S. occupation forces must be resisted by force. And that’s what happened. It also led to more than 4,000 casualties suffered by U.S forces in Iraq.

Unfortunately, the same thing happened again this year — in 2015. It is said that history repeats itself. And it did.  . . . .

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