People, Travel

Iraq Declines Offer to Protect Artifacts

Iraq Declines Offer to Protect ArtifactsIraq Declines Offer to Protect Artifacts

Iraq has declined Iran’s offer to safeguard historical relics of Iraq until peace and stability return to the country.

Following the Islamic State militants’ vendetta against ancient monuments in Iraq, head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, Masoud Soltanifar, sent letters to Iraq’s Antiquities and Tourism Minister Adel Fahad Shershab, UNESCO and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, ISNA reported.

In the letters, Soltanifar expressed Iran’s readiness to protect Iraqi relics until IS no longer posed a threat to the historical artifacts.

“Thanks to the strong support of the international community and issuance of resolutions aimed at protecting Iraq’s cultural heritage, we don’t need additional support. Almost all countries are on our side, supporting us,” Shershab said.

The minister noted that Iraq is making efforts to recover artifacts smuggled out of Iraq and some have been returned to Iraq,” he said.

“Our museums outside IS-controlled regions are safe, including the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad and Nasiriyah Museum.”

In March, Al Arabia reported that the Iraqi government had reopened Nasiriyah Museum, the country’s second largest museum, following reports of vandalism to other national artifacts by the IS extremists.

The museum’s collection includes Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Abbasid artifacts.

  Safety for Iranian Pilgrims

About 1.5 million Iranian pilgrims visit Iraq annually, but the country’s instability has raised security issues.

Shershab said the Iraqi government is committed to protecting Iranian travelers, but conceded that conducting military operations against IS “is beyond our powers”.

He said the pilgrim’s safety has been extensively discussed with Iranian authorities and new measures aimed at boosting security will be implemented.

“Despite past security problems, I remain hopeful that effective solutions can be found through dialogue,” Shershab said.