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Iraq investigating 'stolen artifacts' at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

Allegations have surfaced of stolen artifacts on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 November, 2017

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The Iraqi government is investigating reports claiming stolen Iraqi antiquities are on display at the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabu museum, a high-level official in Baghdad said on Monday.
The Iraqi government is investigating reports claiming stolen antiquities from the country are on display at the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, officials in Baghdad said on Monday.

The alleged stolen artefacts date back to various historical periods in Iraq and were reportedly looted in the chaos that followed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"Parliament will file a motion with the government to form a committee to investigate how they reached the UAE and take legal action to repatriate them to Iraq," MP Sadeq Rassoul of the ruling National Alliance told The New Arab.

An official at the office of Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, however, said Baghdad cannot be sure whether the Iraqi antiquities in Abu Dhabi were looted during the invasion or were replicas. 

"A committee has been formed to follow up the subject, and verify the reports claiming Babylonian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Ottoman-era artefacts are being shown at the museum," he said. 

The reports first circulated on social media, showing snaps of what were claimed to be stolen Iraqi historical artefacts.

The International Campaign to Boycott UAE, a newly formed group, claimed on Sunday the Louvre Abu Dhabi was displaying stolen Iraqi, Syrian, and Egyptian artefacts, obtained via criminal gangs linked to terrorists.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi has been contacted for a comment.

Iraq says 15,000 artefacts have been looted since the US-led invasion in 2003, including statues and treasure from the Akkadian era (2161-2371BC).

During the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, US forces were widely accused of failing to protect the cultural antiquities of Iraq

More than a decade in the making, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors on Wednesday, bringing the famed French art brand to the Arab world for the first time.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who arrives on his first visit to the Middle East for the inauguration, hailed the museum as a "decisive turning point" in ties with the United Arab Emirates in an interview with local daily al-Itihad.

The opening comes a decade after France and the UAE agreed to a 30-year partnership initially reported to be worth $1.1 billion, including nearly half a billion dollars for the rights to the Louvre brand alone.

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