The Iraq War In Two Images

March 19, 2007

I was doing some late-night surfing for more info about Iraq’s southern provinces when I stumbled upon a pair of images that gave me pause. Both pictures were allegedly taken in Az Zubayr, Iraq, in January 2005.

An Iraqi woman flashes the victory sign with a purple finger, indicating she has just voted, at a polling station in the centre of Az Zubayr, southern Iraq.<br>  Photo: AFP<br>

A British soldier aims his gun at an Iraqi woman in Az Zubayr, January 26

It’s also worth noting that Az Zubayr was one of the southern Iraqi towns under British jurisdiction.  Britain has since declared victory in her mission out there, and it appears that the locals aren’t sure that’s a good thing, even 2 years after the infamous ‘purple finger’ picture was taken: Sunnis and Shias appeal for British to stay on

“I request the British people and commanders to keep British forces working in Az Zubayr until the Iraqi security forces have the authority to run affairs,” he said. “If I inform the Sunni people of Az Zubayr that the British are leaving they will leave too.”

He said that once the militias became aware the British were leaving they would prepare to move into Az Zubayr to overrun the police.

The sheik’s pleas were even echoed by the rival Shia-backed Tharallah party. Salan Maki Mohana, the party leader in Az Zubayr, said it would be “very dangerous” for the British to leave.

“Lots of people will take advantage of the bad security,” he said.

Incidentally, Az Zubayr is one of the areas in Iraq where Shia and Sunni have lived together in relative peace. 

Just another stop on the road towards my understanding of this conflict.  It’s pretty hard to wrap your mind around it all, so on occasion I’ll make efforts to expand on what I know.  I can’t help but wonder about that woman with the purple finger, however.  She went nameless in every caption I’ve found, but that image is quite possibly the most memorable one taken from this war thus far.  I think it’d be interesting to find out who she is and how she’s doing now.


  1. hes not actually aiming at her.. hes aiming down the road to the right of her..

  2. Aye, you do realise squaddies often use their SUSATs as monoculars..?

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