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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] Published on Saturday, March 29, 2003 by the Guardian/UK US Army's Desert Filling Stations Add Fuel to Fire by Oliver Burkeman in Washington In a war where public perceptions are arguably as important as the military strategy, the US army appears to have handed a huge public relations victory to those who believe the conflict in Iraq is all about oil. The 101st Airborne Division has chosen to name two of its main outposts in the desert Forward Operating Base Exxon and Forward Operating Base Shell. When US troops seizing the port city of Umm Qasr raised the stars and stripes there last week, they were swiftly ordered to remove it for fear of giving the impression of being conquerors, not liberators. But Forward Operating Base Shell has caught on so comprehensively that the Washington Post is now carrying it as the dateline in its news reports from the base. All of which seemed to have baffled representatives of the two oil firms themselves, who only heard about the names when the news reports started to be published. "Our feeling was that this was clearly not a political statement by the men and women of the 101st Airborne," said Tom Cirigliano, an Exxon spokesman. "These are desert refueling stations, and they're apparently naming them after oil companies simply because that's what reminds them of filling stations back home. It's a normal practice." Meanwhile, in southern Iraq, four miles outside Nassiriya, troops have erected a makeshift sign renaming Tallil airfield Bush international airport. That may, at least, have a satirical intent: Iraq's largest airport, in Baghdad, is called Saddam International. A spokesman for the Pentagon referred a request for comment to central command's headquarters in Tampa, Florida. A spokesman for its public affairs office claimed, bafflingly, that it was not its policy "to respond to criticisms that people may have". "This has absolutely nothing to do with the war being about oil, a notion that we think has been debunked by numerous independent analysts - and even in the newspaper Le Monde," Mr Cirigliano insisted. "Anyway, I'm certain of this: that the restrooms in Camp Exxon are much cleaner than the restrooms in Camp Shell." © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003 _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk