I agree entirely that this as an example of UNESCO flexing its muscles unreasonably. First of all they choose a "far away place of which people know little" - viz Oman, for their first foray into removing a site from the list - "No one is going to argue too much about that are they and it shows we mean business!!". Then they choose a subject/site where they know there are big and vociferous pressure groups for them to whip up/support viz Dresden.
Be quite sure - the list will be immeasurably reduced in stature if Dresden is removed. In any case many of us will still regard it as being incontrovertably "World heritage" and do not need the bureaucrats in UNESCO to tell us what is and what is not! For us the list is a tool, not an end in itself, and we disagree as much regarding many sites already on the list as we do with many not yet inscribed but which should be!
I have a surprising amount of sympathy for those people around White Sands (NM) and Carrizo Plain (Ca) who have battled (unsuccessfully for the latter) for those sites NOT to be placed on the USA T List. For those who haven't followed this in the local press - a lot of the comments have been straight out of "Redneck" world with people fulminating against the "U.S of A" giving up its sovereignty to an organ of world government (Situated in Paris you know - home of the "cheese-eating surrender monkeys") and potential terrorists!
But there is more than a grain of truth in the downside of inscription - namely that you open yourself up as a hostage to green (and other) pressure groups. Nearly every week my "Google alerts" notify of me of some more nonsense along these lines. eg Councillors in Edinburgh who don't like some new arrangements regarding refuse collection and threaten that they will lead to "Edinburgh being removed from the list"!
Right from the start I have hoped that Dresden will have the back-bone to tell UNESCO where to go! You don't "need" it, it is getting far too big for its boots and needs to be shown that it doesn't call all the shots. In the early days of the World Heritage scheme they were desperate to accept any site as they couldn't be sure of its success (I don't subscribe to the view that the best ones were the earliest ones by the way!). Unfortunately now the list of sites wanting inscription grows apace and UNESCO feels that it can exert pressure on those already "inside". It is amusing to read the reasons given for seeking inscription - they mainly relate to hopes of a tourist bonanza in the case of developed countries and of pots of money in the case of developing ones! Like so much within UN agencies there is far too much of a "nationalist" and political agenda in the nomination and inscription process. China obviously sees it as a means of it gaining its rightful place in world culture - Britain, Spain and Germany parcel out the nominations between the Countries, Regions and Lšnder. Big money gets spent on consultant fees etc to produce documentation which presses all the right buttons - we have a situation which moves towards "Never mind the quality of the site - feel the depth of the documentation"!!
UNESCO will say that they have a responsibility towards the "values" of inscription but they are compromising on these all over the place anyway. So why choose to make an example of a site which, even with a bridge, is far more "World Heritage" than a lot of the "buggins turn" and other sites of dubious value which have found their way onto the List?
A recent review of the Casa Barragan raises the issue of UNESCO's unpredictability regarding which sites it chooses to impose some control over. There are many world class sites in developing countries where UNESCO could far more usefully be expending its efforts and expertise than in Dresden. I agree with Meltwaterfalls that the bridge is not the end of the world anyway and even has some plus points - if UNESCO are against it then perhaps it can't be all bad!
This is the first big battle in a long war - I hope Dresden doesn't give in as, tomorrow, UNESCO interference and oppression will come to a site near you as well! The decision should be left to the democratic processes of Germany and its people with no threat of deselection. Even with the bridge UNESCO should be proud to have Dresden on its list!