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The destruction of cultural heritage
during war times is not a new phenomenon.
It is a crime against the whole of humanity

As there have been many more
destructions of cultural heritage by Islamic State over the last few years. Call
from the Western world have said that the world should do everything in order
to preserve those sites, as they hold significant positions in the history of
human kind. Besides preserving history, what effect could preventing cultural
heritage sites from coming into the hands of Islamic State have in the fight
against them.

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After events like …. Cultural
heritage could be defined according to UNESCO…  Examples of actions are…. This was all to safeguard
the historical value they have.
It was another message from Islamic State to the Western world, as they
deliberately destroyed an important symbol of origins of Western civilization. As
it occurs more and more often that cultural heritage sites are destroyed by
Islamic State.

Besides preserving history, how could preventing cultural heritage sites to
come into the hand of Islamic State help the Global Coalition, consisting of 74
members whose mission it is to defeat Islamic State, in countering Islamic State
(The Global Coalition, n.d.). This essay argues that a successful protection of
cultural heritage from destruction by the Islamic State could help in the fight
against Islamic State.  
General introduction topic à sign word à problem à thesis

The cultural heritage may be defined as the entire
corpus of material signs – either artistic or symbolic – handed on by the past
to each culture and, therefore, to the whole of humankind. As a constituent
part of the affirmation and enrichment of cultural identities, as a legacy
belonging to all humankind, the cultural heritage gives each particular place
its recognizable features and is the storehouse of human experience. http://cif.icomos.org/pdf_docs/Documents%20on%20line/Heritage%20definitions.pdf

 

To start, preventing cultural
heritage to come into the hands of Islamic State could cause economic setbacks
for IS. IS makes profits through several ways, like taxes and fees from the
people under their regime, natural resources like oil, foreign donations, but
also from selling antiquities they obtained from cultural heritage sites (Heißner et
al. 2017, 7). In Turkey alone,
which shares a border with IS territory, the authorities caught 6,800 objects
from  2011 to 2016 that came from
cultural heritage sites and where being smuggles across the border to be sold (Myers
and Kulish, 2016). Estimates show that the profits IS makes from selling looted
antiquities vary millions to hundreds of millions of dollars on a yearly base (Vlasic
and Turku 2016, 1177). Also, in “The
Islamic State’s symbolic war: Da’esh’s socially mediated terrorism as a threat
to cultural heritage” Smith et al. state that internal profits, like looted
antiquities, made by IS are essential for the continuation and survival of IS,
as they can be used for the costs IS makes (Smith et al. 2016, 179-80). As IS makes profits from selling
antiquities obtained from cultural heritage sites, preventing IS to lay hand on
these cultural heritage sites will thus cause a financial setback for IS,
affecting the chances of IS surviving. Furthermore, data found in a collaborative
research in 2017 conducted by EY and the International Centre for the Study of
Radicalisation, which is part of King’s College London, shows that although the
share of antiquities is at the bottom of profit shares made by IS, with profits
made from oil leading the list
(Heißner et al. 2017, 8), the financials of IS are already in
decline (Heißner et al. 2017, 10), which suggests that any profit
made, even if it is not that much, is very valuable for IS. It was estimated
that the overall income of IS decreased by approximately 50 percent in just two
years from 1.9 billion dollars in 2014 to 870 million dollars in 2016 (Heißner et
al. 2017, 10). This was mainly because of loss of in territory which resulted
in less natural resources to sell, and fewer people and businesses to receive
taxes from. Also, some actions taken by the Global Coalition to reduce Islamic
State’s financial income have had some influence like actions taken at the border
of IS’s territory to counter smuggling and Operation Tidal Wave II which was
launched in 2015 which permitted attacking oil transportation lines and cash
depots (Heißner et al. 2017, 12). Furthermore, IS has so far not
succeeded to come up with new sources of funding that would replace the losses
that have been made lately (Heißner et al. 2017, 5). The study suggests that if IS
continues down the same path, their ‘”business model”‘ will not last for long (Heißner et
al. 2017, 3). à main topic
sentence

 

Another argument supporting the
claim that preventing cultural heritage sites to fall into the hands of IS will
help in the fight against them is that IS will lose a way to express their
power and ideology on a global scale and recruit new members. Besides the fact that they do
this because The emergence of social media brought a new way of
terrorism into being. In “The Islamic
State’s symbolic war: Da’esh’s socially mediated terrorism as a threat to
cultural heritage”, this new way of terrorism is described as “socially
mediated terrorism” (Smith et al. 2016, 164). The emergence of social media
resulted in an opportunity for IS to use the destruction of cultural heritage
as a way to ‘manipulate and persuade audiences’ (Smith et al. 2016, 181) and
recruit new members on a global level (Smith et al. 2016, 174). Also, the
emergence of social media caused that the ‘destruction of cultural heritage
serves the strategic purpose of cloaking the Islamic State with an aura of
invincibility through highlighting the impotence of its opponents.’ (Smith et
al. 2016, 181). Furthermore, Paolo Foradori and Paolo Rosa, Professor and
Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Trento ((Foradori
and Rosa 2017, 160), state that IS uses the distribution of images of them destructing
cultural heritage sites as a new way of portraying their strength and “its
radical, merciless, and unconditional ideology” which will recruit supporters
from all over the world “by advertising its irresistible power” (Foradori and
Rosa 2017, 150). So, due to the emergence of social media IS saw a chance to be
able to propagate their ideas globally. The destruction of cultural heritage
served to be a good tool for this. If Islamic State is prevented from access to
cultural heritage to damage it, it loses a way to globally express their power and
ideology and a way
to recruit new members. This, in turn, might affect the powerful image the rest
of world has of them and an ability to recruit new members, they will thus lose
an ability to expand.

On the other
hand, Foradori and Rosa warn that IS could move on to other activities through
which they can show their power on a global scale, shifting from cultural
destruction to human killings. This will be much more undesired than the
destruction of global heritage and will neither shrink the activities of IS. The
human attacks might even become crueler than before, as they might go back to
human killings with even more brutality or they might focus on specific groups
like women and children (Foradori and Rosa 2017, 157). However, the message IS wants to spread with these
shifted violent activities will not be received as globally as the messages
spread from the destruction of cultural heritage. This is in contrast to
Foradori and Rosa who stated that human killings will reach the same goal as
the destruction of cultural heritage in terms of distributing the IS ideology
on a global scale (Foradori and Rosa 2017, 157). This
is because in contrast to videos of the destruction of cultural heritages,
videos of murders can be very unpleasant to watch for most people and the
videos that are being circulated by IS will only fulfill their goal if they are
actually being watched by people around the world (Smith et al. 2016, 176). So, keeping cultural heritage
out of the hands of IS might indeed cause IS to lose their powerful face on a
global level global, and an ability to recruit new members, they will thus lose
an ability to expand.

Finally, as many cultural
heritage sites have a good strategic military position, they can very valuable possessions
for both IS and the Global Coalition fighting IS. The side who possesses the
cultural heritage sites will have a military advantage over the other side. For
example, in Syria and Iraq, there are a lot of cultural heritage sites with
locations that have valuable features like being ‘on high ground, at important
intersections or crossroads, near water’ (Foradori and Rosa 2017, 156). It is
no coincidence that these sites have such a convenient spot. Back in the days,
the sites have been built for certain purposes and over time they have not lost
this feature (Foradori and Rosa 2017, 156). Foradori and Rose use 11th
century castle Crac de
Chevallier, medieval Aleppo’s Citadel and third century A.D. Bosra Castle,
all Syrian cultural heritage on the UNESCO list as examples, saying that their ‘offensive and defensive values’ in terms of military
defense features ‘are as pertinent in the current conflicts as they were when
first constructed, which is precisely why all the parties have continued to
battle for control over them,’
(Forador and Rosa 2017, 156). So, if these sites are in hands of the
ones fighting IS, IS will have a military disadvantage and it might help the
Global Coalition fighting Islamic State.

 

To conclude, successful protection of cultural heritage
from destruction by the Islamic State could help the Global Coalition in the
fight against Islamic State. Firstly, it will affect IS’s money supply,
especially as their capital is already in decline. This will limit their
financial resources. Secondly, IS will be less able to express its power and ideology and recruit
members if they are not able to lay their hands on cultural heritage anymore.

Through socially mediated terrorism, IS could use images of the destruction of
cultural heritage to spread fear among the world and reach and attract new
members with their ideology. IS might shift to deeds in which they focus more
on human casualties, but the images of these practices will be less distributed
among the world, as it is too cruel to show in the media, disabling IS to
spread their ideology and to expand their territory. Lastly, as many cultural
heritage sites have a strategic military position, the side who possesses the
sites will have an advantage over the other side. This meaning that if the
cultural heritage sites will not come in possession of IS, the international
coalition will have a military advantage over IS. If measures are being taken,
this will thus cut financial resources, cut a way to globally express strength,
spread ideology and recruit members and take away a military advantage.
This essay could be useful for the Global Coalition that wants to counter the
actions and the expansion of Islamic State, as it could help the Global
Coalition to reach their goal. Furthermore, it stresses the importance of organizations like the
UNESCO to continue programs trying to safeguard cultural heritage.

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