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Egypt's antiquities are a pawn in the Ethiopia dam crisis

An Egyptian artifact is displayed at the Museu Egizio (Egyptian Museum) in Turin, the only museum other than the Cairo Museum that is dedicated solely to ancient Egypt art and culture on March 31, 2015 [MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images]
An Egyptian artifact is displayed at the Museu Egizio (Egyptian Museum) in Turin, the only museum other than the Cairo Museum that is dedicated solely to ancient Egypt art and culture on March 31, 2015 [MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images]

Nearly two centuries ago, the Egyptian state began giving attention to Pharaonic antiquities, preserving them in a museum and presenting them to the Egyptian people, as the Europeans used to do. On 29 June 1835, the ruler of Egypt at the time, Muhammad Ali Pasha, issued a decree establishing the Antiquities Authority and the Egyptian Museum. The credit for this is due to Dr Refa'a Al-Tahtawi, who was returning from Paris after completing his studies. He criticised the gifting of the Pharaonic Egypt obelisks to European countries to adorn their capitals. It had saddened him greatly when he saw it with his own eyes adorning Paris, and Al-Tahtawi took over the supervision of the Antiquities Authority.

However, this did not deter the rulers of Egypt after Muhammad Ali from neglecting and conceding Pharaonic antiquities. Instead, they continued to gift them to foreign rulers, who grew increasingly interested in them and their people were astonished by them after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and after the Pharaonic language had been deciphered, as they were able to understand it and became passionate about the Pharaonic civilisation, since the time of Khedive Abbas I to this day. Former President Gamal Abdel Nasser gifted four Pharaonic temples to five countries in the 1960s: the Taffeh Temple in the Netherlands, the Dendur Temple in America, the Ellesyia in Italy, the Debod Temple in Spain, and the Kalabsha Temple in Germany, in appreciation of their contribution to saving 13 temples from drowning during the construction of the High Dam.

READ: Egypt thwarts attempted sale of antique statue

Presidents after him continued to give valuable pharaonic gifts to heads of state, but perhaps they were less generous than him.

To be fair, the era of former President Hosni Mubarak was the most interested in Pharaonic antiquities, but during that era, they stole the most. Over the course of his 30 rule, thousands of pharaonic pieces were smuggled out of Egypt and placed in international museums, displayed in international auctions, and senior state officials were involved in many cases of smuggling. The major antiquities cases were known and announced at the time, but what was hidden was greater.

The Ministry of Antiquities announced in an official statement in 2017 the disappearance of 33,000 artefacts from the ministry's warehouses. This huge number indicates the failure to protect ancient Egyptian heritage and its placement in the hands of dishonest people, making corruption rampant in this sector. The famous archaeologist Zahi Hawass, the former minister of antiquities, said during a conference of the Union of Arab Archaeologists that Egypt has lost 30 per cent of its artefacts. It is worth noting that suspicion surrounds him too, as many fingers have pointed at him being behind the smuggling of artefacts during the Mubarak-era.

These rumours resurfaced in the recent artefacts case last month, during which a gang was arrested, including famous businessman Hassan Ratib and the former parliamentarian Alaa Hassanein known in the media as "the deputy of the jinn and the demons," as he is known for treating people possessed by jinn and has a television channel in which he talks about this. The two have close relations with the UAE, and the latter is a personal friend of the Emirati Ambassador, Hamad Al Shamsi, who was keen to visit Hassanein in his department in Upper Egypt as soon as he assumed his position as envoy, which raised many questions. This sparked rumours about the role of the UAE in this case, especially after the Emirati ambassador quickly returned to his country after their arrest.

Never-ending fight between Egypt/Ethiopia and Sudan over the Renaissance Dam - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Never-ending fight between Egypt/Ethiopia and Sudan over the Renaissance Dam – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Some news agencies mentioned that official and unofficial Emirati individuals have recently intensified their activity in Egypt to acquire large quantities of Egyptian antiquities by buying them from merchants, excavating and extracting them, or by obtaining them through deals with priests and monks in exchange for huge sums of money and under the cover of a donation to restore churches and monasteries.

It is known that the Louvre Museum in the Emirates is filled with rare Pharaonic antiquities, and Mohammed Bin Zayed appeared in the opening in front of a bronze statue of Isis nursing her son Horus, despite the Ministry of Antiquities' assertion that any attempt to steal it from the Nubia Museum was thwarted. So where did Bin Zayed get it?

People, including the writer of this article, wondered why this timing in particular was chosen to announce the arrest of the gang close to the Emirates?

Undoubtedly, the UAE's intelligence activity and the tampering with Egyptian antiquities was not hidden from the Egyptian authorities, rather they monitored every step of the way. Then, Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam came to lift the cover and reveal what's been hidden.

The American magazine Foreign Policy reported that Abu Dhabi funded the purchase of a Russian air defence system for the Ethiopian army to protect the Renaissance Dam, and at the end of 2019 it signed a joint defence agreement with Ethiopia against any external aggression.

The military commander of the Tigray forces admitted that the UAE supported the Ethiopian army with drones in its battles against them.

In fact, Mohammed Bin Zayed, the de facto ruler of the UAE, is working against Egypt for the benefit of the Zionists, and this is the role assigned to him. I discussed this Emirati role in detail in a previous article, so we must not be fooled by his celebration in Egypt, accompanied by his sons and grandchildren at the inauguration of the naval military base a few days ago.

The UAE has infiltrated many vital strategic areas in Egypt, in the form of projects, investments, purchasing lands, real estate, major hospitals and famous medical analysis laboratories, which provoked suspicion, especially as a result of its intimate relations with Israel.

READ: US citizen accused of smuggling Egyptian artefacts through JFK Airport

Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Zayed, has been working on blowing up the situation in the region, and he has made the Emirates a den for Mossad in the Arab region, as well as the centre for counter-revolution. Every Arab country that witnessed unrest or civil war after the Arab Spring revolutions finds that the UAE was somehow involved in it and was the reason behind the fires that ignited. We are all aware of what it is doing in Yemen, Libya and Syria, and now it's time to sabotage Egypt.

Bin Zayed's ambition is boundless, and it may reach the point of madness. He wants to extend his influence and control outside his country and far beyond what meets the eye. He wants to put the world between his wings and aspires to buy the civilisations of others, to create an ancient history for his small country, which is not yet 50 years old. Such an individual is willing to compromise all constants and values and sacrifice everything to achieve his dreams, which are often catastrophic for the nation.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

AfricaArticleEgyptEthiopiaEurope & RussiaMiddle EastOpinionRussiaSaudi ArabiaSudanUAE
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