From LA Review of Books.
While the Islamic State’s cultural vandalism in Syria and Iraq has made headlines, damage to the rich cultural patrimony in Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest country, receives far less attention.
More than 80 historical sites and monuments have been destroyed. 95% by the Saudi-led coalition, the rest by Houthi rebels.
- The Great Dam of Marib: Considered one of the oldest dams in the world and one of the most important archaeological sites in the Arabian Peninsula – destroyed in Saudi airstrikes.
- Sana’a: Airstrikes on the old city destroying mud building thousands of years old. Sana’a is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- A museum in Taiz housing ancient manuscripts.
- UNESCO World Heritage Site and medieval city Zabid.
- Al-Qahira citadel from the 12th century.
As Yemen shows, it also means the apparently deliberate decimation of a country’s past.
As the fighting continues, with brief cease-fires brokered and soon broken, the cultural costs keep rising in a country with perhaps the best preserved traditional urban fabric and vernacular architecture in the Middle East.
“There’s nothing left to destroy. All of Yemen’s infrastructure has been destroyed. So why keep bombing? Bombing what? Who?”