Arab military women take part in UNESCO workshop

For the first time, female military personnel from the armed forces of Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq gathered at UNESCO’s regional office hall in Beirut to participate in a workshop on protecting cultural property during armed conflict. (UNESCO Beirut Twitter)
Updated 03 October 2019

Arab military women take part in UNESCO workshop

BEIRUT: For the first time, female military personnel from the armed forces of Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq gathered at UNESCO’s regional office hall in Beirut to participate in a workshop on protecting cultural property during armed conflict. They did so along with female officers from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
“Our goal is to introduce participants to means of protecting cultural property during hostilities and military occupation,” UNESCO’s Joseph Kreidi told Arab News.
This is important because “we’re in a region that has witnessed and is still witnessing wars,” he said.
“We decided to allocate a workshop exclusively for women so as to empower them and to promote gender equality, in line with the organization’s objectives.”
Dr. Eric Klein, a senior technical adviser at UNESCO, presented a lecture on ways to protect cultural property during armed conflict, and how it could be a joint civilian-military mission.
Dr. Ali Badawi, regional director of the Lebanese Directorate General of Antiquities, shared with the participants the directorate’s experience in protecting his country’s antiquities during armed conflict.
Catherine Hanson, a researcher in preserving cultural heritage, introduced them to means of dealing with and documenting artifacts.
Myriam Haddad, a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, gave a lecture on how to protect civilian areas under international humanitarian law.
Col. Ziad Rizkallah of the Lebanese Army told Arab News that the Lebanese participants in the workshop have law degrees and “are military police investigators and engineers in brigades stationed on the border.”
Before going to the southern Lebanese city of Tyre, where they spent the day among its relics and ruins, the participants listened to the Lebanese experience in protecting these relics.
“The border area of Naqura abounds with ruins and relics, as do all the cities on the Lebanese coast. We rushed to conduct surveys of the sites to preserve them,” said Badawi.
“This area hasn’t witnessed urban movement for decades, which contributed to the relics’ preservation.”
Answering a question about the fate of stolen artifacts that arrive in Lebanon and are seized, Badawi said: “Lebanon keeps the seized relics, but it informs the countries that it has them in its possession, asking them to verify their loss.”
Jordanian military women praised the opportunity that the workshop provided them. “The importance of the workshop is that it allows us, with the participation of men, to safeguard cultural property,” one of them said.
An Iraqi military official said: “The workshop provided us with steps to protect our country from the theft of antiquities, and to recover stolen antiquities on display in various museums around the world.”
She added that Iran, Jordan and Syria are used as routes to smuggle antiquities out of Iraq. She highlighted the serious damage caused by Daesh to archaeological and religious sites.
“When we return, we’ll explain and teach others how we can act to preserve the relics of our country,” she said.


Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

Updated 51 min 27 sec ago

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

  • Expert says sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in Libyan conflict unlikely

JEDDAH: With the conclusion of the Libya peace summit in Berlin on Sunday, it remains to be seen whether Turkey is willing to implement the provisions of the final communique and stay out of the conflict.

Ankara is accused of sending Syrian fighters to the Libyan battlefront in support of Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced concerns over the arrival of Syrian and other foreign fighters in Tripoli, saying: “That must end.” 

Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst at Oxford University, speculates that Turkey will not deploy more troops.  

But he told Arab News that a sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan conflict is unlikely for the moment as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will remain present “until the GNA’s future is secured.”

Noting the difficulty of enforcing the Berlin agreement, Ramani said Turkey might not be the first mover in breaching a cease-fire in Libya.

But he added that Turkey will not hesitate to deploy forces and upend the agreement if Haftar makes any moves that it considers “provocative.”

The summit called for sanctions on those who violate the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya.

Turkish opposition MPs recently criticized the expanded security pact between Ankara and the GNA, saying the dispatch of materials and equipment to Libya breaches the UN arms embargo.

Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.

Micha’el Tanchum, Analyst

The summit does not seem to have resolved ongoing disputes regarding the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, a planned natural gas pipeline connecting eastern Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete.

The Cypriot presidency accused Turkey of being a “pirate state,” citing Ankara’s recent drilling off its coasts just a day after Brussels warned Turkey that its plans were illegal.

Erdogan dismissed the warning and threatened to send to the EU some 4 million refugees that Turkey is hosting.

Turkey dispatched its Yavuz drillship to the south of Cyprus on Sunday, based on claims deriving from the maritime delimitation agreement with the GNA.

Turkey’s insistence on gas exploration in the region may be subject to sanctions as early as this week, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.

Aydin Sezer, an Ankara-based political analyst, drew attention to Article 25 of the Berlin final communique, which underlined the “Libyan Political Agreement as a viable framework for the political solution in Libya,” and called for the “establishment of a functioning presidency council and the formation of a single, unified, inclusive and effective Libyan government approved by the House of Representatives.”

Sezer told Arab News: “Getting approval from Libya’s Haftar-allied House of Representatives would be a serious challenge for Ankara because Haftar recently considered all agreements with Turkey as a betrayal. This peace conference once more showed that Turkey should keep away from Libya.”

Many experts remain skeptical about the possible outcome of the summit. 

Micha’el Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, said: “Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.”