I understand that the international cultural mission, led by UNESCO, will start work in Cairo tomorrow morning (Tuesday) and that the team has three members: Christian Manhart (Chief of museum section of UNESCO); France Desmarais (ICOM general secretariat); and Ossama Abdel Meguid (ICOM EC and CIPEG). That sounds like a strong team to me.
Ahrahm has been critical of this mission, so I have been doing some digging. There doesn't seem to be a published agenda for the mission, but I understand that the team's priorities are likely to include the following:
- to meet the new ministers (antiquities and culture);
- to visit and take care for the Egyptian Museum;
- to visit other nearby museums and sites, if there is need / opportunity;
- to get the official ministry / SCA cooperation for the compilation of a "red list" of stolen antiquities
- to discuss an action plan and determine needs for the future activities to follow.
The Ahram article isn't surprising. There are still people in Egypt who don't want transparency of abuses during the Mubarak era and many of all political persuasions who view any external involvement with suspicion. Ahram is also not regarded by the Tahrir protestors as an unbiased newspaper even now. Hopefully, however, a positive mission will establish a strong partnership between the Egyptian regime and international cultural organisations.
(PS This post had more than it's fair share of typos! Hopefully I have now got most of them!)