I've long suspected that there was a hidden "antiquities agenda" to western intervention in the Middle East, and have even voiced concerns on this website that Syria may be the latest victim of having its priceless heritage deliberately plundered. A regular reader here, Mr. V.T., sent me the following article, which does confirm that Syrian antiquities are indeed being looted, and the article even suggests a scenario that emerges after some high octane speculation is applied to it. But before we can indulge in that, first, the article:
The parts of this article that gives rise to my high octane speculation are these. First, from the beginning of the article:
"Scholars are warning of the destruction and looting of cultural goods, thousands of years old, as a result of the civil war in Syria.
“'Countless people have died because of the battles, and their culture, which is 5,000 years old and includes the earliest texts of mankind, has also been lost', says Ancient Near Eastern Studies Scholar Prof. Dr. Hans Neumann from the committee of the 32nd German Oriental Studies Conference (Deutscher Orientalistentag, DOT) which over 1,000 Oriental researchers from all over the world are expected to attend in September at the University of Münster. The discipline of Ancient Near Eastern Studies reckons with irrecoverable losses in Syria. 'Many Syrians are also suffering from the destructions and illicit excavations. They are proud of historical World Heritage Sites such as Aleppo, Damascus and Palmyra, and also base their identity on ancient Near Eastern history.'"(emphasis added)
And then this:
"Smugglers take historical evidence such as cuneiform texts, seals, metal items or pottery abroad. These artefacts come from ancient palaces, temples or private residences and are then sold on the black market, explains the expert for Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform texts, referring to the experiences since the Iraq War. 'Even if the items are confiscated, what we researchers miss is the overall context: in which settlement, in which house and in which room were the items found? The finds’ complex historical and social context cannot be reconstructed this way.'”(emphasis added)
What this suggests to me is a methodology of seeking and finding antiquities for the hidden elites that allows them to maintain a "plausible deniability" and even to be involved only second or third hand. Consider the following scenario. Let us say, in addition to the various geopolitical reasons the Anglosphere advances for its backing of Syrian "rebels," that there is a hidden agenda to seek, find, and gather a "wish list" of various antiquities. In the chaotic conditions of an insurgency, "smugglers" could be "encouraged" by means of cut-outs, agents provocateur, and other western "handlers" to "dig here," or "we have a buyer for this or that," and the illicit digs will proceed. The cuneiform tablets that hidden elites would be seeking could be "ordered" off a "price list" compiled from field catalogs of known digs, and so on.
To put it briefly, it would be all too easy for the military-industrial-intelligence-finance complex of the Western elites to disguise their searches for antiquities, and their acquisition of them, behind a tapestry of cutouts, illicit digs, smugglers, and antiquities brokers for a "black market. " Time will tell if this is true or not, but if so, then it fits the familiar "inside job" pattern that we saw at work in the Baghdad Museum looting. And it would raise suspicions, once again, of the similar pattern of "looting" that occurred during the fall of the Mubarek regime, and now, again, in Egypt.
Call me crazy if you want, folks, but I think the goings on in the Middle East are about more than oil, petrodollars, or geopolitics.
See you on the flip side.