Heritage management challenges and changes in Northern Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein: the rise of Kurdistan and the Islamic State onslaught
Cuneo, Allison Emily
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Since the fall of Saddam Hussein and the expulsion of the Ba’ath Party, sweeping political reforms dramatically changed the Republic of Iraq and how government protects and manages its cultural resources. The slow rise of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the rapid invasion of the Islamic State (ISIL) have upended current cultural property policies. I study the varying and overlapping constraints on heritage management practice in Iraq since the 2011 withdrawal of United States-led Coalition forces in three separate articles. The first article discusses the emergence of the Kurdistan Regional Government General Directorate of Antiquities (KRG-GDA) in Erbil as a parallel institution to the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) in Baghdad, and how its legally ambiguous status introduced change to Iraqi cultural resource management policy and practice. I compare and contrast the organizational structure and antiquities laws KRG-GDA and SBAH and I deduce how the existence of two occasionally conflicting bureaucratic entities may negatively affect political relations between Erbil and Baghdad. In the second article I study how regional economic fluctuations in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq have a direct impact on the local protection of archaeological resources in the area of Soran. I review the emergency excavations conducted by Rowanduz Archaeological Program (RAP) and how real estate development, infrastructure expansion, agriculture, and unemployment pose tangible threats to archaeology. In light of these pressures, I recommend policy solutions to be incorporated into future economic and political reforms proposed by the KRG. The final article discusses the rise of the ISIL and its iconoclastic campaign against places of worship, archaeological sites, educational repositories, and their contents in Syria and northern Iraq. I analyze noteworthy episodes of intentional destruction perpetrated by ISIL and I discuss how the organization both tactically and economically profits from these attacks. I also discuss how diplomatic reactions to these attacks on culture may inadvertently support fundamentalist ideology, and I propose more effective governmental responses to erode support for ISIL that also reduce the profitability of destruction, vandalism, and looting.