The chaos in Iraq is largely a function of domestic political decisions. That means the democratic process can still work in Iraq's favor.
The US promised to support Iraq's fight to oust Al Qaeda fighters from occupied cities in Anbar Province – but no boots on the ground. Iran has also offered support.
Nowhere did US troops fight harder to expel Al Qaeda-linked insurgents than in Fallujah and Ramadi. But two years after the US withdrawal, the group fights on.
Bouts of sectarian fighting have worried observers many times over the past few years, but so far the worst has not come to pass.
Dozens of Syrian Army soldiers were killed yesterday while in Iraq seeking temporary refuge from fighting with rebels. They were ambushed by suspected Al Qaeda-affiliated militants.
Some eye-catching video shows a disciplined jihadi militia on the move in eastern Syria after ransacking a regime artillery base.
Naseer Mehdawi, Anthony Shadid's closest Iraqi friend and journalism colleague, recalls their friendship and how together they told the story of Iraq.