The historic Iraqi National Museum is in the process of fully reopening after years of closure and many are hoping that the move is a signal of peace to come.
The reopening of the museum at a time when American troops are beginning their final pull out of the country after nine years of war symbolically points to the hope that the war-torn and conflict-riddled country is moving towards a stable future.
In 2003, looters ransacked the historic museum and as a result the museum remained closed for much of the Iraq’s worst violence over the past years.
Thousands of valuable items were taken or destroyed from the museum. Following the incident, the museum’s deputy director said that 170,000 items had taken or destroyed and were “worth billions of dollars.” Other numbers suggest that 15,400 priceless items were stolen from the museum.
The highest-ranking Iraqi antiquities official described the looting as “the crime of century” due to Iraq’s central role as a cradle of civilization.
However, with the help of foreign investors, the museum will be fully operating within months and the reemergence of the museum indicates that Baghdad is safe enough to reclaim its identity as the cultural hub of the Arab world.
“So many things are happening that convince us things are changing for the better,” Shaimaa, a museum archaeologist told The Christian Science Monitor.
Nevertheless, the optimism that Iraq is on the right path is shaky, as many still fear that with U.S. soldiers gone Iraqi security forces will be unable to maintain stability.
Others worry that a U.S. pullout could embolden Iran and will leave Iraq with an uncertain future.
Whether sectarian violence breaks out, or a fragile peace is able to overcome fierce challenges, the Iraqi people are on the path to taking their country and their cultural institutions back from the chaos of war.
“Tomorrow will be better, I am sure,” Shaimaa told the CSM, “The new generation, God willing, will be active and be better.”