Sam Hardy has a brief report ('the Islamic State is profiting from looting, dealing and smuggling of antiquities from Syria and Iraq') based on information supplied by Prof. Salam Al Kuntar and Prof. Amr Al Azm of the 'Syrian Heritage Task Force’ that suggests that through the local emirs, the Islamic State is imposing a tax on looted antiquities in Iraq and Syria, and this is enforced by killing anyone refusing to pay.
Prof. Al Azm observed that the Islamic State ‘is involved in illicit antiquities trading, but in a way… more complex and insidious than that reported to date’. It is ‘is involved and profiting at every level, from extraction to final sale and exit from ISIS territory’. ‘The damage is phenomenal. They’re not only digging up known sites; they’re bulldozing everything.’ According to the Sunday Times, the Islamic State’s ‘main market’ is the paramilitary-controlled Syrian-Turkish border town of Tel Abyad.The problem is that this information comes from the US-supported National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, and it would seem that the 'destruction of heritage' issue, and providing shocking information about it, has become intimately-linked to US soft-power strategies in the muddle that the Middle east has become. I think we have to be very careful about the claims that are emerging from the international media about any of this, it is quite clear that concerns about the cultural heritage are becoming a pawn to be cynically exploited and manipulated for political ends and to demonise a political opponent, in this case rebels against the Assad regime who now take on themselves a form perceived as threatening.
|Isis-controlled territory (BBC)|