Iconic Photos

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Fall of Saddam

with 9 comments


In 2009, Time magazine looks back at the fall of Saddam Hussein’s statue the middle of Baghdad: “While the advisability of the U.S. invasion of Iraq will long be a matter of debate, the overthrow of one of the world’s most notorious dictators was inarguably a moment of jubilation for many Iraqis. On April 9, 2003, as U.S. troops moved into Baghdad, Iraqi citizens slipped a noose around the neck of a statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square and dragged it from its plinth, with the assistance of a detachment of U.S. Marines and their armored vehicle. The towering statue subsequently beheaded and dragged through the streets. The effusive demonstration was a stunning symbol of the nation’s liberation from Saddam’s brutal regime.”

The magazine was partially wrong. A year after the events, amidst the allegations that the event was staged, U.S. Army confirmed that the toppling was stage-managed by American troops and not a spontaneous reaction by Iraqis. A Marine colonel first decided to topple the statue, and an Army psychological operations unit turned the event into a propaganda moment (see pictures taken of the entire proceeding). At one point, Marines draped the statue of Saddam Hussein with an American flag. When the crowd reacted negatively to that gesture, the US flag was replaced with a pre-1990 Iraqi flag, missing the words “God is Great”. Then, the Marines brought in cheering Iraqi children in order to make the scene appear authentic, the Army report said.

Above is the photo taken by Patrick Baz for AFP/Getty. However, Reuter’s aerial photos showed Fardus Square empty save for the U.S. Marines, the Press, and a handful of Iraqis. There were no more than 200 people in the square, which had been sealed off and guarded by tanks.


Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

November 10, 2009 at 10:58 am

Posted in Politics, War

Tagged with , , ,

9 Responses

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  1. It was such a moment for the Iraqi people, hardly anyone was there as the photo shows. Probably too occupied digging their relatives out of the rubble from invasion.


    November 10, 2009 at 12:37 pm

  2. The two photos raise the question of the role of news agencies – Baz’s pic (top) accepts the role assigned by the US military, and he becomes party to a propaganda exercise. The bottom photo (taken from a hotel, I think, not actually an aerial photo) preserves the autonomy of the reporter, but I don’t think he can claim much credit for integrity – I recall that the photographers were kept in the hotel by the Marines.

    Igor Prawn

    November 10, 2009 at 11:16 pm

  3. […] Lo que no se vió del derribo de la estatua de Saddam Hussein (ENG) […]

  4. y a quien le importa esto?

    De cualquier manera nos estan controlando como quieren con los medios masivos,una guerra mas o una guerra menos, que importa? total, es son solo humanos.


    November 15, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    • Usemos INDYMEDIA, así no nos pueden controlar.
      Menos hablar y más trabajar.


      November 15, 2009 at 6:13 pm

  5. Propaganda at its worst.


    November 18, 2009 at 4:09 pm

  6. […] for a more recent example, consider the crowds pulling down Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad. Shots from a more distant vantage showed how small those crowds actually were, […]

  7. The problem with the “small crowds”, “crowd reacted negatively”, just “propaganda” line is that the whole thing was televised. I watched it. The crowds were large and friendly. There was no “negative reaction” by the crowd to the Marine who defiantly rubbed Saddam’s face with the American flag. In fact, the crowd dragged the head of the statue through the streets, hitting it with their shoes, and giving the camera man the thumbs up. So much for propaganda.

    Che is dead

    January 7, 2010 at 1:14 am

  8. […] Photo credit unknown. Widely attributed to Reuters […]

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