‘There are customers for everything [Für alles gebe es Kunden]’ from Syria and Iraq

In a documentary next week, Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR)/Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (ARD) will explain ‘how looted Syrian antiquities are sold in Germany [Wie syrische Raubkunst in Deutschland verkauft wird]’. It looks like it will hit a range of key points.

  • Subsistence digging and trafficking: ‘There is no more work in our region…. We want to feed our children, we do not want more [In unserer Region gibt es keine Arbeit mehr…. Wir wollen unsere Kinder ernähren, mehr wollen wir nicht]’, explain illicit diggers in Idlib province, Syria.
  • The political economy of antiquities trafficking in conflict zones: ‘Everywhere, there are checkpoints, from the regime or the rebels [Überall sind Checkpoints vom Regime oder den Rebellen]’, explain(ed) illicit diggers in (then) Islamic State-occupied territory in Idlib province (though it is not yet clear who controls that pocket of unidentified territory now).
  • Trafficking routes and mechanisms: ‘The objects were brought first to Turkey, then to Greece, Macedonia, Austria and… Germany. He had hidden the objects in his children’s clothes [Die Objekte würden erst in die Türkei, dann nach Griechenland, Mazedonien, Österreich und dann nach Deutschland gebracht…. habe er die Gegenstände bei seinen Kindern in der Kleidung versteckt]’, explain the journalists, in relation to a dealer in Dresden. Other objects were looted from Iraq and/or smuggled through Lebanon.
  • Online trafficking: ‘Valuable objects are offered for sale on Facebook [Über Facebook werden die wertvollen Gegenstände angeboten]’, explain the journalists.
  • The greedy and ignorant market: ‘There are customers for everything [Für alles gebe es Kunden]’, an illicit dealer tells (Syrian) journalists in Idlib province, who are working with the journalists in Dresden. Those customers include ignorant profiteers who form a market for fakes and forgeries.
Looting, Idlib province, Syria (MDR, ARD, 18th October 2017)

Looting, Idlib province, Syria (MDR, ARD, 18th October 2017)

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