Many analysts say the Middle East is the focus of a geopolitical power struggle between the United States and Iran. That misses the primary thread of events – namely, the ongoing soft partition of the Arab republics between Turkey and Iran, with Turkey the stronger power.
Bombings in Iraq targeted two Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad today. The violence, coming amid a Sunni-Shiite political crisis, threatens to inflame the tensions that led to civil war in 2006-07.
Most concerning in a new report's analysis of the Iraq war death toll is evidence of the high level of violence that's persisted since the civil war ended.
Last year was momentous, but the region may just be getting warmed up.
Seven Monitor correspondents reflect on the world's hot spots. In this installment, Scott Peterson explains why despite the risks, he kept going back to tell the stories of Iraqis.
The 150 uniformed US troops still in Iraq are there to facilitate weapons sales and train Iraqi forces to use the armaments. But as violence rises in Iraq since the US military pullout, some analysts see greater risks that US-supplied weapons may be misused.
The US troop surge in 2007 helped quiet Iraq's bloody civil war. But it failed to deliver on what US officials and officers said was crucial for Iraq's future at the time: sectarian reconciliation. Rather than forging a new national identity out of the horrors of Iraq's war, Iraq's Shiite and Sunni Arabs and ethnic Kurds sullenly retreated to their own sectarian corners, and the country's political parties remain vehicles for ethnic or sectarian interests. The next year is probably going to be the most crucial for determining the future of Iraq since the US-led invasion of 2003, as Iraq's various political factions compete for power and influence without foreign troops getting in the way. Here are a few of the major players.
The death toll in a string of attacks in Baghdad, mostly against government and Shiite targets, is up to 68. The attacks follow days of political threats against Sunni politicians by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
A trawl through US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks this year shows growing alarm over Iraq's political divides.