This mosaic appears to have been making the rounds. I came across it on someone's Twitter feed yesterday, a political scientist and professor at a well-known university in Manhattan. So they were trying to make a point, using pictures. This might make for a good "PS" to my article about how the real fight over photographs now concerns interpretation.
If you move away a step from photographs, or maybe from the world of photography, you'll find that while there are fights over how to interpret photographs pictures are also being used as tools in fights over interpretations.
Such is the case here. This is such a clumsy use of photographs that it's almost laughable (or maybe things just stand out a lot more when you're looking at photographs all the time). If we completely ignore the background of the four locations depicted (which at least half the people using this picture actually did), here is what you see in the pictures: In Iraq, they appear to have pedestrianized the part of the city shown here. However, they now have a sandstorm. Libya somehow has changed from blue sky and white buildings to grey skies and ruins. In Yemen, things don't look as pretty by day light when you stop using HDR trickery on your computer. And the part of that Syrian town depicted clearly has seen some war.
Now, you conceivably make a case for something with these pictures, even though it's not quite clear to me what it be other than that war is bad. The moment you look more carefully, you'll realize that three out of the four countries engaged in what we called The Arab Spring for a while. What that has to do with Iraq escapes me. But finer details don't appear to be the point of the various articles and posts I've seen that used the mosaic.
But this is how a lot of photographs are now being used, as rather crude propaganda tools for (or against) something, ignoring even the most basic considerations that inside the world of photography are being hotly debated. This is not to say that those considerations don't make sense. However, in the fight over interpretation, photographic details often are simply brushed aside or ignored. And I do think the world of photography has adapt to that - not by giving up discussions that are already happening, but by expanding their focus.