Top Stories Newspaper: Al Houthi militia has smuggled 4,800 antique pieces and manuscripts since the beginning of this year

Newspaper: Al Houthi militia has smuggled 4,800 antique pieces and manuscripts since the beginning of this year

Workers in the antiquities, museums and manuscripts sector uncovered the smuggling of prominent Houthi leaders (belonging to Saada), since the beginning of this year, more than 4,800 antique pieces and manuscripts dating back hundreds of years to Iran, Lebanon and other countries after they were stolen from museums and archaeological sites located under Group control.

The workers renewed their accusations against the Houthi militia of continuing the systematic destruction of what remains of Yemeni antiquities, sometimes by plundering, smuggling and selling, and at other times by direct targeting through detonation, shelling and transfer to weapons stores and military barracks.

Earlier, Yemeni government officials accused the group of being behind the smuggling and hiding of more than 14,000 rare Yemeni manuscripts and hundreds of artifacts.

Some of the employees of the General Authority for Antiquities in Sanaa spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat that the revolutionaries have recently intensified their efforts in the field of antiquities and manuscripts, by looting many of them from museums in Sanaa and other Yemeni cities, in addition to buying others from brokers and smugglers and then smuggling them after their collection. To Iranian destinations.

According to the sources, prominent Houthi leaders in Sanaa still possess many antiquities, including large and small bronze statues, inscriptions, gold and silver coins, copper amulets, stone tablets, arrow heads, and others.

The sources talked about the continuation of local archeology experts working according to Houthi directives in searching and excavating more manuscripts and ancient monuments in dozens of mosques and historical sites in both Old Sana’a and the cities of “Shibam Kawkaban” in Al Mahwit and Zabid in Al Hudaydah and Jablah in Ibb and Al Jand in Taiz and other sites located within the scope of control. The Houthis.

The workers renewed the warning against the continuation of the Houthi series of bulldozing of what remains of the ancient monuments and manuscripts, and at the same time revealed the existence of a close link between the leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Hassan Erlo, who was impersonated as an ambassador to Yemen, and the organized tampering that these militias are doing against what It remains from the historical repository of Yemen.

They pointed out that the repeated visits of Hassan Erlo, accompanied by a prominent Houthi leadership, to the old city of Sana’a exposes all the Iranian Houthi intentions, and confirms that they are continuing to loot more Yemeni artifacts and manuscripts.

In the context of the group’s continuing to confiscate, smuggle and sell the remaining collectibles and antiquities, sources working in the Antiquities Authority in Sana’a, in the middle of the year before last, accused the group of looting hundreds of ancient antiquities, pieces, inscriptions and manuscripts from inside the National Museum in Sana’a.

At the time, it indicated that Houthi leaders transferred a number of these pieces from the museums of Sana’a to places where they reside, with the knowledge, supervision and follow-up of officials of the Antiquities and Museums Authority.

She explained that the transfer of the pieces by the group was done under the pretext of preserving and protecting them, while the aim of that, as reported by the same sources, is to obliterate the history and identity of the country, in addition to the secret trade in these hoardings, and to facilitate the task of smuggling them through middlemen out of Yemen.

In addition, officials in the authority revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that more than 16,000 historical documents, various artifacts, and ancient weapons have disappeared from the Military Museum in Sanaa, in addition to the disappearance of more than 13,000 artifacts from the Dhamar Museum and thousands of pieces and manuscripts from museums. Others are in Ibb and other cities under the group’s control.

The officials, who preferred not to be named, estimated that there were more than 120,000 artifacts of different shapes and sizes in the National Museum in Sana’a before the Houthi coup, dating back to ancient Yemeni times, and revealed that more than 60 percent of those pieces are no longer in existence today. In the museum that was previously called “the Central Bank of Yemen for Antiquities.”

In terms of international action to protect Yemen’s antiquities, the United Nations announced, this week, its intention to hold an international conference during this month of May, to protect Yemeni antiquities that are being looted and smuggled for sale in international auctions abroad.

The United Nations Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) said, in a statement, that it is leading, with the European Union, international efforts to preserve the country Culture and heritage in Yemen, adding that it will hold an international conference with its partners to preserve Yemeni antiquities, as the conference is scheduled to be held between 26-27 of May.

She indicated that the conference aims to get acquainted with the modern mechanisms and emergency interventions used to protect heritage and create thousands of job opportunities for Yemeni youth.

In previous times, the internationally recognized Yemeni government had directed direct accusations against the Houthi militia of looting Yemeni antiquities and smuggling them abroad in order to sell them in public auctions in order to support the war and enrich its leaders.

Archeology experts say that the Houthi militia has tended to trade in antiquities and manuscripts in the context of its efforts to search for other sources to finance its war effort, in addition to known sources such as fuel trade, taxes, customs, zakat, communications and service institutions’ resources.


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