Reading The Pictures: Birth Of Three Nations?

05/25/2011 12:15 pm ET
  • Michael Shaw Publisher of the visual politics and media literacy site, Reading The Pictures.


While George Bush moves back to a (dubious) success narrative to characterize the nation formerly know as Iraq, what remains unquestioned is his consistent and unqualified reference to a unified state. Of the many things conveniently unreported in the U.S., however, is political activity afoot in Iraq to officially, if not quite so cleanly, call it a day.

Along those lines, Marc Lynch of abuaardvark reports on a map that is going viral in Iraq.

As Lynch reports, the image in question was produced by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), and is also being circulated by and among Shia members of parliament. The main text is said to read: "Federalism is our one path to freedom and security." Not surprisingly, the Sunni section is ominously darker and appears to have lost land mass across its south.

Roads to Iraq (via abuardvark) points out a couple of other tweaks. Half of the Ramadi province (a Sunni stronghold) has been given over to the Shiite holy city of Karbala. Also, oil rich Kirkuk (currently in the hands of the Kurds) appears to have been incorporated into the dark blue Sunni area -- a telegraph, perhaps, on a strategy by the Shiites to try and buy off the Sunnis on a split?

Finally, take a look at those clasped hands. Because it represents a diad which graphically extends over the eastern border, it's hard not to think the embrace -- also extending deep into the south -- reflects the natural Shi'a instinct for connection with Iran.