Jul 8 2012
By Khayoun Saleh
Azzaman, July 8, 2012
Iraq has accused the United States of violating international law and its obligations as a former occupying power by holding to its Jewish archive and other ancient documents.
The charge was made by the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Liwa Smaism in an interview with Azzaman newspaper.
Smaism claimed that the U.S. has even rejected a request for Iraqi experts to inspect the collection and has rebuffed another demand to provide his ministry with a catalogue of the archive contents.
“America bears the full consequences related to this issue … This is unacceptable,” the minister said.
He said as a former occupier of Iraq the U.S. was under obligation to protect the country’s heritage and not illegally transferred to its own territory.
Smaism said Iraq could no longer trust U.S. claims that it transferred the Jewish archive and other documents to its territory purely for repair and preservation purposes.
The archive of Hebrew books and texts was found by U.S. troops by accident in 2003 as they were searching for the alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Iraq had one of the largest and most prosperous Jewish communities in the Middle East but almost all of its Jewish population has fled the country, mainly to Israel.
Smaism also had strong words against some other countries which he did not identify, saying they were not cooperating with Iraq for the sake of giving back the stolen and smuggled Iraqi antiquities in their possession.
Iraq is one of the world’s richest in antiquities. Major ancient cultures and civilizations flourished within its present-day borders among them the Sumerians, Akkadians and Assyrians.
The minister warned in the interview that Iraq would no longer accept acts aimed at smuggling, stealing or undermining of its heritage by any country, group or individual.
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