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What kind of looters have keys?

Reader comment on item: [Looting:] An Iraqi Tragedy

Submitted by Ben Shniper (United States), Apr 23, 2003 at 12:12

These archives were both closed to the public for years preceding their looting. The regime was thought to be selling off the archives, which was pretty much a baath party exclusive club at the time.

From Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50287-2003Apr18.html

"Thousands of antiquities had disappeared from the country even before the current war.

The trafficking feeds off Iraqi poverty, said Salma El Radi, an Iraqi archaeologist. 'If you need to feed your family and the only way to do it is by looting a site, you're going to loot a site,' El Radi said."

How is it possible that random looters, acting before and after the war, with keys, with the sales connections to hide these antiquities, and with malice to destroy the archives, would have done this? I think it was an inside job. It was the old Baathists and their cronies who played this smash and grab, and I wouldn't be suprised if the minister of antiquities was in on it as well.

If it was an inside job, perhaps we should have been more careful in guarding sites of value, such as the few hospitals which were actually stocked with supplies. But it is hardly our fault, and comes under the heading of "one final crime of Saddam's regime against its own people", to paraphrase Bush.

-Ben
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