I’m sure the Reuters photographer, shooting this picture near Baquba in mid-December, was just looking to create a little interest. What he actually delivers, however, is a reminder of just how thoroughly this war is a matter of perception.
In this particular frame — featuring soldiers from the 52nd Infantry, 4th Brigade alongside Iraqi police — the situation, as composed, appears mostly pacified. Today’s reality, however, is that the Sunni pacification strategy is starting to fray. Not only are the mostly Sunni Awakening Councils taking increased punishment from less compliant insurgents, but these “occupation-friendly” forces are growing increasingly disillusioned with the Iraqi government for refusing to fold them into the state-run security apparatus.
The NYT link below lays things out the clouding picture fairly clearly — even if it’s not showing up in the larger window.
Attacks Imperil U.S.-Backed Militias in Iraq (NYT)
(image: Bob Strong/Reuters. Al Hamer, near Baquba December 14, 2007. via YahooNews)