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Cover Story The big test facing Iraq

As the first elections loom since the US left four years ago, Iraq struggles to avoid splitting apart amid escalating violence and political paralysis.

By Jane ArrafCorrespondent / April 13, 2014

Photo by Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Image; Photo Illustration by John Kehe/Staff

Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's foreign minister, looks out the cockpit window of a military helicopter at the thin blue waterway below – the site of one of the fiercest battles in modern history. The Russian-made chopper, part of Iraq's tiny Air Force, winds its way along the Shatt al-Arab waterway, on the border with Iran, which has shaped the two countries' tumultuous past.