Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Iraqi PM's Relatives Are Said to be Detained with Sumerian Antiquities

This story is circulating on the web.

Translated by Lamia al-Gailani Werr


Nouri Kamil al-Maliki the Brother in Law on the Prime Minister of Iraq Dr al-Maliki had s been detained at Dhubai airport, he was caught with Sumerian antiquities trying to smuggle them to the United States. Also detained with him, his bodyguard Abu Ali al-Asfahani, who is also a relative of the Prime Minister.

A number of Iraqi officials including the former ambassador to Qatar Mr Sadiq al-Rikabi, Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh and Dr. Muwafaq al-Ruba'i are negotiating with the Director of the Dubai airport Mansour bin Ali al-'Utaibi to release them.

Mr Asfahani who was caught with four passports: American, Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi, lives in the Green Zone in Baghdad and has been nicknamed by the people as Mr. Yaseen in reference to Arshad Yaseen the brother in law of Saddam who was notorious for his antique dealings.

[End of Translation]

If true, this article demonstrates the continued hypocrisy of the Iraqi Government when it comes to antiquities. During Saddam's reign, common people were executed for dealing in antiquities while the Baathist elite collected and sold what they wished. Today, no one is executed, but they are punished when found with such items. Yet, connected people still apparently continue to deal in them. We will see if the Iraqi PM's family members are ultimately treated like everyone else, but the article already suggests that will not be the case.

If harsh laws cannot be applied equally, perhaps it is time to loosen them for everyone!


Cultural Property Observer said...

I asked Paul Barford to reformulate a comment I thought offensive. He has declined and instead has expanded upon it on his own blog.

Here is my note to him:

Mr. Barford- I rejected this post because I found it potentially defamatory of the officers and members of the ACCP. If you can reformulate it with specific verifiable facts to support your allegations, please repost and I will reconsider.

I trust by now you have seen a similar report on the Iraq Crisis List with regard to the subject of this blog post. I believe that renders your other questions moot.


Peter Tompa

Sent: 10/14/2009 4:20:31 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: [Cultural Property Observer] New comment on Iraqi PM's Relatives Are Said to be Detained with ....

Paul Barford has left a new comment on your post "Iraqi PM's Relatives Are Said to be Detained with ...":

Is Nouri Kamil al-Maliki no longer the Prime Minister? What is the source of this story?

So who was BUYING them? Presumably they too urge the "loosening of the laws for everybody", wouldn't be ACCP people would they?

Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Moderate comments for this blog.

Incidentally, though the translation of the Arabic source is confusing, the title of the blog post should make clear that the Iraqi PM's relatives stand accused of smuggling-- not the PM himself.

The Arabic sources suggested these relatives were also getting preferential treatment, which is what prompted my original post.

On that note, it is also ironic that according to another story just posted on the Museum Security List Serve, the Iraqi PM has ordered Iraqi diplomats to press repatriation claims. See

Cultural Property Observer said...

Here is the link to the same information on the "Iraq Crisis List:"

I see Mr. Barford does not like the translation. Perhaps, he can offer his own from the Arabic original appended to the Iraq Crisis post.

Of course, this is all way off base from the point of the original post: Assuming the story is true, is the Iraqi Government hypocritical in its treatment of antiquities, and would it be better to have less stringent antiquities laws that are applied to everyone rather than stringent laws that are not applied against the country's elite?

I'm afraid Barford's effort to compare the situation to that in the US is also off base. Our country is one where the expecation is that the law will be applied equally to everyone. Sadly, that is not the case in much of the world, including Iraq.