Wednesday 11 June 2014

Where ISIS Is Gaining Control in Iraq and Syria

Denying responsibility for instability
The fall of Mosul yesterday has awakened a lot of interest in ISIS, and quite interestingly online comments are reflecting the fact that a lot of people had not even heard of it until the past few days. Since they've been pretty active and successful in the past few months, that is pretty astounding, and reflects the influence of what the mainstream media write and how on public opinion. The media are perhaps less than eager to show the results of the 2003 failed military jaunt by Bush and Blair which destabilised an entire region, preferring to redirect attention to other things. Only recently therefore have we been seeing the emergence of more synthetic treatments of the issues. Where ISIS ls Gaining Control in Iraq and Syria see also BBC News: 'Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have made gains' (note the brief section summarising 'basic causes') and Yonatan Zunger Mosul has fallen; Baghdad is in ISIS' sights. See also Elias Groll, 'The Beginning of a Caliphate: The Spread of ISIS, in Five Maps' Foreign Policy blog, June 11, 2014. This obviously has significance for heritage. The first is the obvious one of the digging up of stuff to flog off to unscrupulous dealers (who are patronised by equally unscrupulous collectors) to raise cash to finance their operations. Our dealer opponents will of course deny until they are blue in the face that this does not happen. The second is related to their own opposition to the idea of national cultures. While countries such as Syria sought one of the foundations for unity in a shared past, which was a national past, the cultural property which illustrates the past of those territories has a chance of being looked after. When however a group in an attempt to impose a new identity attempts to wipe away national identities, the heritage that supports them also suffers. Wiping out monuments to national identity and a common past is what the Nazis did in Poland, its what ISIS appears to be attempting in Syria.

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