Iraq’s Iran-backed paramilitary advances toward Syria border

Iraqi forces advance in Mosul's western al-Saha neighborhood during their ongoing battle to retake the area from Daesh group on Sunday. (AFP / KARIM SAHIB)
Updated 28 May 2017

Iraq’s Iran-backed paramilitary advances toward Syria border

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Iran-backed Shiite paramilitary force said on Sunday it had dislodged Daesh militants from a number of villages west of Mosul, scoring further progress toward the border with Syria.
The villages taken by the Popular Mobilization paramilitary force include Kojo, where Daesh fighters abducted hundreds of Yazidi women in 2014, including Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar, recipients of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.
Kojo and the other villages of the Sinjar mountain region will be returned to the Yazidi community, a Popular Mobilization leader, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, told Iraqi state television. Popular Mobilization is taking part in the US-backed Iraqi campaign to defeat Daesh in Mosul and the surrounding province of Nineveh. The force reports nominally to Iraq’s Shiite-led government and has Iranian military advisers.
Iraq’s government is aiming to control the border area with Syria in coordination with the Iranian-backed army of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Linking up the two sides would give Assad a significant advantage in fighting the six-year rebellion against his rule.
The region immediately alongside the border on the Iraqi side is either under the control of Daesh or Kurdish forces. Daesh also controls parts of Syria.
Iraqi government armed forces are focusing their effort on dislodging insurgents from the city of Mosul, Daesh’s de-facto capital in Iraq.
Since the campaign started in October, the insurgents have lost the city except for an enclave alongside the western bank of the Tigris river.
On Saturday Iraqi forces launched an operation to capture the enclave, which includes the densely populated Old City center and three adjacent districts.
The fall of the city would, in effect, mark the end of the Iraqi half of the “caliphate” declared nearly three years ago by Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi from Mosul. (Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli)

Grand Egyptian Museum symbol of Japan cooperation

Updated 56 min 11 sec ago

Grand Egyptian Museum symbol of Japan cooperation

  • The museum will house thousands of monuments and artifacts including mummies

CAIRO: The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), set to open in 2022, is already a beacon for future Egyptian prosperity.

Built to showcase Egypt’s civilization and heritage, the museum will house thousands of monuments and artifacts including mummies, as well as housing a very important restoration center which will help in preserving Egyptian Pharaonic heritage.

It is hoped the GEM will boost tourism, and act as beacon of a new, forward-facing nation in the aftermath of several years of political upheaval, and centuries of losing its treasures overseas.

Egypt began work on the museum in 2008 at a cost of approximately $550 million, with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities funding $100 million, with the remainder facilitated through a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in addition to local and international donations.

Covering the third phase of the build, Japanese support was not limited to the loan, but extended to the financial and technical support of the museum’s preservation and conservation center. 

Moreover, Japan currently supports the museum’s archaeological database and the team chosen to cultivate and manage it. 

The JICA also organizes a program that holds several restoration training sessions in both Egypt and Japan, in partnership with the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. 

Egypt’s Ambassador to Japan Ayman Kamel talked about the details of Japan’s participation in constructing the GEM.

“This project, which was launched years ago, is a success story in Egyptian-Japanese bilateral relations,” Kamel said.


It is hoped the Grand Egyptian Museum will boost tourism, and act as beacon of a new, forward-facing nation in the aftermath of several years of political upheaval, and centuries of losing its treasures overseas.

He added that Japan contributed in supporting one of the Egyptian centers specializing in monument restoration, providing “unmatched” Japanese eco-friendly materials and technology. 

Kamel predicted that following its inauguration, the GEM would be a source of pride not only for Egypt and Japan but also for the whole world.

“The final inauguration will take place in 2022 when all construction operations are completed.”

Japan’s Ambassador to Egypt Masaki Noke said the GEM was a “huge project that transfers heritage to the coming generations” and hailed Egypt for carrying out “this huge archaeological project.” 

Noke added that the Japanese were very happy to participate in this huge achievement which he considered of paramount importance “not only on the economic level but also on the human level in general.”

Around 42,000 Japanese tourists visited Egypt in 2018, adding to an increasingly large community of Japanese residents, and a sizable presence of archaeological missions working in the country.  

Egyptian archaeological expert Ahmed Kadry told Arab News that there are currently 10 Japanese archaeological missions in Egypt with universities and institutions.

Kadry said that the GEM’s inauguration in 2022 will change the perspective of museum tourism the world over, and hailed to work of Japanese and Egyptian archaeologists for their work in the field of diagnostic examination of monuments by using hand-held devices called XRFs, a primary examination machine using X-rays.

He added the results of such examinations provided useful information regarding the preparation of painted layers “which help in not only deepening the understanding of the condition of murals once they are restored but also in conducting more research to gain more knowledge in the field of archaeology.”

In July 2018, Dr. Tadayuki Hara, an associate professor and senior research fellow at the Institute for Tourism Studies, gave a lecture on how to improve the value of touristic assets in Egypt at the Japanese Embassy in Cairo, where he cited the importance of the GEM in Egypt’s future.

“Revenues can be created through great memories,” Dr. Hara said. “That can be achieved through the GEM, the project that Japan is taking part in constructing.”