The mosque’s golden dome gleamed like a fallen sun, burning out the mud-colored city of Samarra with its broken shops and acres of cinderblock poverty. Two slender minarets framed the dome in regal style and a grid of delicate scaffolding wound around it, suggesting repairs planned and then stalled, probably because of the war. From the neighborhoods beyond, streams of black smoke bled into the winter sky above satellite dishes and slack electric wires. I watched the dome through the battered back window of a U.S. medevac helicopter as it descended to retrieve wounded soldiers at a makeshift landing zone. [...]
A string of sectarian attacks and arrests over the last month demonstrate Pakistan’s continuing battle to eradicate Sunni-Shiite violence is far from over, despite Pakistani authorities’ repeated calls for unity and public actions against militant groups over the last six years. Observers worry that Sunni-Shiite violence across Iraq is feeding into Pakistan’s decades-long sectarian conflict, threatening the South Asian nation’s already-troubled efforts to contain militant groups. Homegrown violence only adds to Pakistan’s already significant worries over continued conflict in neighboring Afghanistan, persistent Taliban and al-Qaida presence in Pakistan, and widespread discontent with President Pervez Musharraf’s rule. “Each attack, small or [...]
The loss in Iraq of seven U.S. helicopters in the past month has been the cause of much concern in the Department of Defense, and rightly so. The military says seven helicopters have been shot down since Jan. 20, a number that exceeds the total for 2006. The recent spike in successful attacks indicates another evolution in insurgent tactics. Insurgents in Iraq follow the classic pattern of innovation cycles. They identify a need, come up with a new idea to meet it, develop this idea into a product, and introduce it into the field. Thus, the insurgents have recognized the [...]
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