Conflict in the Middle East: A Shattered Past Affects Your Future

Conflict in the Middle East: A Shattered Past Affects Your Future

The destruction of Cultural Heritage carried out by jihadists in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq, but also significantly in Yemen, it is not a trivial matter. Since World War II there had been no such loss of historical and cultural heritage.

The conflict in the Middle East is ending many lives: about 230,000 people have died, there are three million refugees and 6.5 million displaced and It may be a bit frivolous to worry about 'stones', but historian Tom Holland addresses this question as follows:

"When the killing stops, the blood runs dry and the Syrians try to build something from the rubble, they will need a symbol, so mutilating the past also destroys the future, it is not just about destroying ancient stones."
“The Middle East is the place where urban culture was born and when these antiquities are destroyed, so is the global heritage of Humanity.

Stephennie Mulder, a professor of Islamic art and architecture at the University of Austin, Texas, has worked for a decade in Balis, a medieval Syrian city, and states:

“Obviously there is nothing more important than human lives and nobody says that ancient stones are rescued before people, but culture is an essential part of being human. When the war is over, people will be doubly traumatized, since apart from the tragedy of the war, they will have lost the vestiges of their past. When Iraqis, Syrians and Yemenis rebuild their countries, they will have lost their sense of belonging. Cultural heritage is the most powerful thing to understand who we human beings are.

Destruction of heritage cannot yet be adequately quantified as the war continues. The damage is not only attributable to the jihadists because the fighting and bombardment have also caused destruction. Four of the six places that UNESCO had chosen as Cultural Heritage are seriously damaged. A bombardment in Yemen destroyed several buildings in the historic center of Sana'a, although the most striking of the destruction that is taking place were the images of the guerrillas of the Islamic State hammering the Assyrian city of Nineveh, the museum of Mosul or the ruins of Hatra.

Javier Martín is an expert on Islam and is also a correspondent for the EFE Agency in the Maghreb, he explained that the guerrillas of the Islamic State believe that every figure and culture that predates Islam represents heresy, therefore it has to be eliminated. But in addition, the Islamic State is aware of the propaganda generated in the West by the destruction of historical heritage, so there is also some provocation towards Western culture and a reaffirmation of its religious beliefs.

Other experts argue that despite the propaganda that the guerrillas make on social networks of the indiscriminate destruction of cultural heritage, it is actually a screen to hide your true intentions which is the antique trade which is a form of financing for them. The Iraqi head of antiquities, Hussein Rashid, assures that the destruction of Nimrud, widely publicized in the media and social networks, it was pure propaganda that covered up the looting that had been carried out.

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Michael Danti, professor of archeology at Boston University assures that the future is destroyed in Syria and Iraq and that destroying the heritage is a way to continue the conflict, "by erasing the past they want to draw a new map of the Middle East," he says. .

The destruction of Aleppo.

The Syrian city of Aleppo is one of the cities in the world that has been continuously inhabited for the longest time and its historic center has suffered irrecoverable damage, according to Stephennie Mulder. Ancient mosques, administrative buildings from the Ottoman period, medieval baths and a covered souk have been destroyed and cannot be restored, the Syrian Army has been responsible in this case.


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