Despite having developed advanced technology and having access to a huge reserve of weapons, including jet fighters and drones, the U.S and its allies failed to prevent ISIS terrorists from destroying and bulldozing irreplaceable archaeological sites in Mosul earlier this year. The sites, Nimrud and Hatra, are UNESCO World Heritage sites?
The terrorist group has mocked the American superpower and its allies and succeeding in successfully destroying a part of mankind’s cultural heritage. Statues, artifacts of the ancient Mesopotamian civilizations have disappeared before their eyes. There was no reaction to that savage act.
After the catastrophe took place the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, declared that the protection of these archaeological sites were not on the military’s list of priorities.
If a superpower like the United States fails to prevent the ISIS terrorist group from destroying our cultural heritage sites, sites that are an integral part of the lives of the people of Iraq and the cultural heritage of the entire world, how can it expect to build and promote a strategic relationship with the people of the region where its vital interests lie?
This is the second time that top military generals from the United States have disappointed Iraqis in the United States and sapped confidence in their leadership.
The first time happened when coalition forces, led by the United States, entered Baghdad and toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime. Military forces only offered protection for the country’s Ministry of Oil, whereas the country’s other governmental organizations, including its financial institutions and the national library — where thousands of invaluable books and manuscripts were set on fire — where left unprotected. Iraq’s national museum was also left vulnerable to burglary and thousands of irreplaceable artifacts and relics were looted and smuggled outside the country.
All of this happened right before the very eyes of the U.S. military which took over Baghdad. When military leaders were asked why they allowed this to happen they offered the same excuse, “the protection of the cultural establishments is not on the list of our priorities.”
The carelessness indifference of the U.S. military’s leaders has bolstered speculation and rumors — dating back as far as 2003 — by Saddam loyalists and fundamentalists that American forces occupied Iraq in order to steal the country’s oil wealth along with its other fortunes and serve to its own interests unilaterally.
These concerns and suspicions convinced a lot of ordinary Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq that the U.S. occupation forces must be resisted by force. And that’s what happened. It also led to more than 4,000 casualties suffered by U.S forces in Iraq.
Unfortunately, the same thing happened again this year — in 2015. It is said that history repeats itself. And it did.
U.S-led coalition forces did nothing to protect the irreplaceable archaeological sites in Iraq against ISIS. This unjustifiable stance towards what happened has once again made those who have always questioned the American role in Iraq, repeat the same warning — that the superpower’s relationship with Iraq is not to the level of expectation as it is with other countries in the Gulf like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, where a relationship has been built on mutual interests.
U.S military officials’ behavior has not made Iraqis feel that the United States is a strategically permanent ally for Iraq. During this critical and difficult time Iraqis are especially concerned when they see their civilization’s heritage destroyed by a terrorist group — ISIS.
The United States needs to prove to Iraqis that the relationship between their two countries is strategic and will never be influenced or shaken, under any circumstances regardless of the confusing stance of the former Iraqi government towards this issue.
What happened in Mosul, does not serve the national interests of the United States in Iraq. One Iraqi military strategic analyst has warned that the U.S and Iraqi relationship is already at a crossroads.
Bottom line? Effective action must be taken by the United States to help Iraqis during this troubled time to save their remaining ancient civilizations in Nineveh, which are the heart of humanity and history. If this is done, I believe it will help promote the trust of Iraqis in the United State as a friend and strategic ally. If the politicians fail to offer critical support to save and preserve the country’s cultural heritage, Iraq’s people will never forget who failed to stand with them in their time of deepest need.
By Jabbar Jaafar |