Ali Baba and the forty thieves

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  • Published 20030902
  • ISBN: 9780733313318
  • Extent: 160 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

‘WATCH OUT – ALI Baba!’ the taxi driver says as we pass the burnt-out Information Ministry in Baghdad. ‘Ali Baba’ is the evocative local slang for looters, and the ministry and the utterly destroyed shopping centre opposite are both crawling with thieves.

We are heading for the Iraq Museum, which is in good shape by comparison – on the outside at least. But the ransacking of the museum by looters as United States troops fought their way into Baghdad has in many ways come to symbolise the wanton destruction of the war and its unintended consequences. The loss of treasures dating back to the start of human civilisation has been described as the ‘crime of the century’ and as equivalent to ‘wiping out half the Louvre’.

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