May 5, 2006

Me Thinks They Doth Protest … Not At All


Last Sunday, an incident took place at Camp Habbaniya in Iraq — the base where the U.S. is training new Iraqi soldiers — suggesting that ethnic and religious tensions may now be undermining the creation of a national fighting force.

During a graduation ceremony, a disturbance broke out involving hundreds of recruits after being informed of their service assignments.  The soldiers, from Anbar province, claimed they had been promised posts near their home towns.  When advised of the opposite, the men became irate, shouting and tearing off their uniforms.

Although the U.S. military claimed the incident was short-lived, Iraqi media was on hand, and images of the event were broadcast widely and frequently over Arab satellite television.

So, what became of the story, and the tell-tale pictures, here at home?  On behalf of the textual media, the NYT ran an article — without visuals.  By way of YahooNews, at least– we got the one photo above.  Taken together, however, the caption and the picture might as well have been issued by the Vice President’s office.  The copy read:

Iraqi Sunni soldiers attend a graduation ceremony near Baghdad April 30, 2006. New Iraqi soldiers have no problem going anywhere to fight insurgents, despite a rowdy near-mutiny by Iraqi Army recruits angry at being posted away from home, U.S. military advisers said on Monday.

No problem going anywhere to fight insurgents?  So say the advisers?

Considering the “no problem” problem, this pic is quite the curiosity.  As our one photo of the incident, are we to imagine the flare-up hardly took place?  Or, is it that — without the “heat packing” insistence of the U.S. — these guys might not be in (one) camp at all?

(image: Akram Saleh/Pool/Reuters. April 30, 2006.  Near Baghdad.  Via YahooNews.)

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Michael Shaw
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