‘More to Yemen than war’: US to help crack down on looted Yemeni artifacts

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The US and Yemen signed an agreement on Wednesday in an effort to protect the war-torn country’s cultural heritage, which has been destroyed due to years of fighting.

And with the conflict arguable at an all-time low, fighting still put Yemen’s antiquities at risk of being illegally trafficked. Thursday’s agreement, signed between Yemen’s ambassador to the US and a senior State Department official, allows Washington to help crack down and spot illegally trafficked Yemeni antiquities.

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A list of pictures of Yemeni artifacts has been published for border patrol agents and other officials to use and identify any potentially looted items.

Mohammed Al-Hadhramy, Yemen’s ambassador to the US, blamed the Iran-backed Houthis for exploiting the war and trying to loot artifacts for their own benefit.

The newly signed agreement will help Americans understand “there’s much more than war and famine in Yemen,” US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking said at the signing ceremony.

Yemen’s rich culture and deep heritage are something to be savored, Lenderking said. “Yemenis deserve a prosperous future in which they can share their rich culture with the world.”

As for the yearslong war in Yemen, the US diplomat said work was ongoing to help find a sustainable solution.

A UN-brokered ceasefire was reached last year and extended twice before the Houthis refused a third extension. But fighting and clashes have been significantly reduced, and cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia have stopped for months.

Lenderking said the focus was moving from the current de-escalation into a durable ceasefire and a Yemeni-Yemeni political negotiation. “We think it’s possible; we think with full cooperation from the Yemeni parties and the regional powers that a peace deal in Yemen is possible and that we can move beyond the current truce and achieve this,” he told Al Arabiya on the sideline of the event.

Read more: Yemen truce progress good, but ‘not enough’: Senior State Department official

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