Trump threatens Iran’s cultural treasures
January 6, 2020 - The suggestion that the U.S. could target Iranian cultural sites should Tehran retaliate against the assassination of Iran’s top military commander Qasem Soleimani has sparked alarm in Iran and beyond.
Targeting cultural sites with military action is considered a war crime under international law, including a U.N. Security Council resolution supported by the Trump administration in 2017 and the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property.
Iran's earliest traces of human history reach as far back as 100,000 BC. Its historic monuments preserve the legacy of a civilization that has kept its Persian identity throughout the tides of foreign conquests, weaving in influences from Turkic, South Asian and Arab cultures, and the footprints of Alexander the Great and later Islam.
Iran is home to two dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Persepolis with its ancient ruins that date back to 518 BC, the 17th century grand mosque of Isfahan located in a teeming bazaar, and the Golestan Palace in the heart of Tehran, where the last shah to rule Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was crowned in 1967.
More recently, though, some of the most iconic cultural sites have come to embody the nation’s defiance in the face of the United States. For example, the iconic Azadi Tower, or Freedom Tower, with its famed white marble arch is where hundreds of thousands gather in Tehran each year and chant slogans against the U.S. to mark the anniversary of the 1979 revolution.
Tensions sharply escalated between Washington and Tehran following America's targeted killing early Friday in Iraq of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's powerful Quds Force.
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