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Washington Imposes Restrictions to Prevent Trafficking in Yemeni Antiquities on its Soil

Washington Imposes Restrictions to Prevent Trafficking in Yemeni Antiquities on its Soil

Wednesday, 26 February, 2020 - 12:45
Yemeni Minister of Cultural Marwan Dammaj meets with Assistant US Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Mary Royce in Washington. (Saba news agency)

Yemen has finally been able to convince US authorities to issue a regulation that restricts trafficking in Yemeni antiquities on its soil.

The legitimate government says the move would help protect antiquities from being smuggled and counter illicit dealing with Yemeni antiquities in the US.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce has affirmed that the situation requires imposing urgent restrictions on archaeological and ethnic materials from Yemen’s cultural heritage.

Under the regulation, the restrictions apply for a period of five years to some archaeological and ethnic items. The period is implemented from the date on which Yemen requests the imposition of these restrictions until September 11, 2024, unless it is renewed.

Yemen's Culture Minister Marwan Dammaj thanked the US government for its cooperation.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the move comes in line with efforts to improve protection of Yemeni antiquities and cultural property and prevent their trafficking.

The foreign ministry also welcomed the US decision in a tweet on Tuesday.

Yemen’s government had intensified its efforts with the relevant US departments in 2019 to preserve its antiquities. Both sides signed a memorandum of understanding to issue a US regulation in this regard and conclude an official bilateral agreement.

In late October 2019, a Yemeni team from the General Authority for Antiquities and Museums discussed with US specialists the request submitted to prevent trafficking and the sale of antiquities.

Dammaj also held extensive discussions with US departments, including the US State Department, and several US research centers and academies that operated in Yemen and those responsible for the most famous antiquities auctions in the United States.

Yemeni officials have accused the Iran-backed Houthi militias of excavating archaeological and heritage sites and looting ancient relics and manuscripts from museums in areas they control.

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