Sunday 28 June 2015

Who IS behind Antiquities Lobbying?

Sangwon Yoon ('ISIS Is Selling Looted Art Online for Needed Cash' Blomberg Business June 29, 2015) has a mixture of the same old tropes with some new information/reflections. Fresh from another brush on another blog with the lobbyists' nastiness intended to discourage discussion, I was struck by this bit:
Islamic State acts as a supplier for a complex chain involving at least five brokers and dealers, said Michael Danti, an adviser to the U.S. State Department on plundered antiquities from Iraq and Syria. The extremists are closely linked to Turkish crime networks in the border towns of Gaziantep or Akcakale, he said. Once the artifacts are smuggled into Turkey, a broker will cash them for resale to dealers who have pockets deep enough to pay for storage and wait up to 15 years to sell, when law enforcement is less focused on them.
The thought struck me that over on this side of the fence, there are folk working away trying to get changes in the manner in which the antiquities trade is regulated to make this sort of thing impossible in the near future (well before 15 years). I which case those deep pocketed individuals are not going to be able to realise those investments. In such a situation they certainly would use their influence and money to place obstacles in the way of any widespread discussion of the issues surrounding the lucrative no-questions-asked and 'ooops-I-lost-the-paperwork' market in portable antiquities. Like encourage lobbyists to disrupt discussions of portable antiquities collecting issues. What would a lobbyist supporting the trade in illicit antiquities look like, what would he do and how? We must keep our eyes open for them.

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