Sunday, 2 November 2014

Bouchenaki to Investigate Antiquity Trading Rings and Determine who or what they fund.

UNESCO has headed a group of grey-suited 'experts' who've been striking disapproving poses and making tut-tutting comments on the destruction of the archaeological heritage over the past decade or so in Iraq and now Syria. The problem is, as Mounir Bouchenaki, based in Manama, Bahrain (special advisor to Unesco director Irina Bokova and director general of the Arab Center for World Heritage of Unesco) admits: ''We don't have tangible evidence but we know the Islamic State (ISIS) sales [sic] archaeological findings to buy weapons and fund terrorist actions'', I do not get the logic of saying you have no evidence but you "know" something. But UNESCO have now taken steps to get the evidence, so their pose-striking can have a better foundation ('ISIS: Unesco investigates sale of art for self-financing' 31st October 2014) It appears that  the director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
[has] ''set up a task force for Iraq and the illegal smuggling of art. And together with the command of Carabinieri police for the safeguard of cultural heritage, which has 40 years of experience, French authorities and Interpol, we are trying to work to close the circle and understand who is putting these assets on the market, where they come from and, most of all, where they are aimed''. Along with abductions to obtain a ransom and the sale of oil, archaeological pieces stolen from Syria and Iraq also bring revenues to ISIS. ''There is no evidence tying down extremists from the Islamic State but the current work of the task force is identifying the rings and establishing where the money ends up'', stressed Bouchenaki. Terrorism and political instability, and the consequential growth of the black market, are plaguing the archaeological heritage of Iraq, Syria, as well as Libya, Yemen and Lebanon, ''the countries worrying us the most right now''. Another alarming issue is that the market for illegally smuggled art is growing - not just in Switzerland and Great Britain. ''Today there are buyers with big sums of money who are unfortunately buying these pieces in Gulf countries, especially in the UAE with Abu Dhabi and Dubai'', he said. 
The size and composition of the group that will achieve this difficult task, and the projected timeline and methodology of its activities have yet to be announced.

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