Iraq marshlands now a UNESCO heritage site

Iraqi men stand outside a hut in this July 14, 2016 photo in the Ahwar area in the southern Maysan province -- also known as the Iraqi Marshlands -- one of the world's largest inland delta systems. (AFP)
Updated 18 July 2016
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Iraq marshlands now a UNESCO heritage site

BAGHDAD: UNESCO has named Iraqi marshlands once ravaged by dictator Saddam Hussein as a World Heritage Site, a bright spot for a country where extremists have repeatedly sought to wipe out history.
The area named “is made up of seven sites: Three archaeological sites and four wetland marsh areas in southern Iraq,” UNESCO said.
“The archaeological cities of Uruk and Ur and the Tell Eridu archaeological site form part of the remains of the Sumerian cities and settlements that developed in southern Mesopotamia between the 4th and the 3rd millennium BCE,” it said.
“The Ahwar of Southern Iraq are unique, as one of the world’s largest inland delta systems, in an extremely hot and arid environment,” UNESCO said.
Iraq has been seeking World Heritage status for the marshes since 2003, and its government hailed the move. Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi congratulated the Iraqi people on UNESCO’s decision, and thanked “all those who contributed to this success.”
Abadi also said that culture in the country will continue “despite the destruction and demolition of Iraqi heritage and antiquities by barbaric terrorist gangs.”


Arab League chief warns no Middle East peace deal without Palestinian state

Updated 2 min 30 sec ago
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Arab League chief warns no Middle East peace deal without Palestinian state

CAIRO: The head of the Arab League warned Monday that attempts to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict will be in vain without the establishment of a Palestinian state on all territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit’s comments appeared directed at a still unpublished peace plan that Donald Trump has dubbed the “deal of the century.” As part of the plan, a US-led conference will be held next week in Bahrain on proposals for the Palestinian economy.
The Palestinian leadership is boycotting the conference, saying Trump’s peace plan is likely to be heavily weighted in favor of Israel and to quash their aspirations for statehood in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
While the precise outlines of the draft plan have yet to be revealed, Palestinian and Arab sources who have been briefed on it say it jettisons the two-state solution.
“Whatever is rejected by the Palestinian or the Arab side is unacceptable,” Aboul Gheit said during an event at the Arab League.
“What is acceptable from our side as Arabs as a solution is the establishment of a Palestinian state on the June 4, 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital,” he added.
Aboul Gheit said that Israel’s acceptance of an Arab Peace Initiative drawn up by Saudi Arabia in 2002, which offers Israel normal ties in return for withdrawal from territory captured in 1967, was the only acceptable solution for Arab states.
“If (Israel) chooses the only reasonable and accepted way from our side as Arabs, which is the establishment of a Palestinian state ... it will be accepted in the region as a normal regional partner,” he said.
Last week, a White House official said Egypt, Jordan and Morocco planned to attend the Bahrain conference.
Palestinians urged Egypt and Jordan to reconsider their attendance at the US-led conference in Bahrain, voicing concern it would weaken any Arab opposition to Washington’s coming peace plan.