Monday, 5 January 2015

ISIS and the Decimation of a Culture

According to Eileen F. Toplansky ('ISIS and the Decimation of a Culture', American Thinker 5th Jan 2015):
"ISIS's massive cash flow comes from the "oilfields of eastern Syria which it had captured in 2012, the smuggling of raw materials pillaged from the crumbling state, as well as priceless antiquities from archaeological digs."  In essence, "Syria's Cultural Artifacts are Blood Diamonds for ISIS." In fact, "looted antiquities from museums and archaeological sites are being traded much like blood diamonds, providing ISIS with millions of dollars in funding to train and arm its fighters, supplementing its even greater income from selling oil and robbing banks."  Consequently, the wholesale destruction of Syria's cultural heritage is not merely a casualty of war, but a deliberate target by ISIS in an attempt to shore up finances.  But where do these antiquities go? Apparently "Roman mosaics, Palmyrene statues, ancient jewelry, medieval manuscripts, and prehistoric religious artifacts are among the stolen treasures that have been trading on the Syrian black market, finding their way into the homes of private collectors in the Middle East, Europe, and North America." 
Antiquities dealers disagree, they say antiquities sales forms no part of the cashflow schemes of any militant group in Syria or Iraq today.  They ask us to believe that though there are western fighters active in the group, not a single member of any militant group active in the region today is at all aware that just under their feet is stuff people in the foreign markets will pay a lot of money to get their hands on.

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