This is an image from an album by the Iranian photographer بهاره بیشه (Bahareh Bisheh). The photograph has appeared all over the internet, usually with the explanation that the subject is an Iraqi orphan who missed her mother and therefore drew her on the asphalt to sleep in her arms one more time.
However, the truth is that the little girl is the photographer’s cousin who had fallen asleep outside her house after playing all day long. Bahareh Bisheh, a creative type, drew the image around the sleeping child and shot the photograph standing on a chair. The series that contains this photograph also has other versions - the child inside a big fish, next to (ostensibly) her siblings, and by a dog.
While the popularly circulating caption may have been fake, the photograph carries a powerful message about the human cost of abstract foreign and security policies. We’d all do well to stop and reflect once in a while.