Ten years ago today, US troops crossed the border of Iraq and began their long march to Baghdad. The legacy of that day is still unfolding in unpredictable ways, both for the United States and the region. Iraqis are still struggling with the aftermath of a war that unleashed deadly divisions in their society. Many Sunnis have left the central government in the wake of widespread allegations that Iraq’s Shiite prime minister is unwilling to share power with them. In recent months, thousands of Sunnis have taken to the streets with Arab Spring-style protests. Meanwhile, Iraq’s Kurds are weighing whether or not to pull out of the central government. It could turn out like the William Butler Yeats poem: “The centre cannot hold.”
Sectarian violence is on the rise, stirred up by the rebellion of Sunnis in neighboring Syria. Shiite militias from across the region have been busy shoring up Syrian President Bashar Assad, who hails from a Shiite Muslim sect. “Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon have basically become one gigantic battlefield, all linked together,” said Kenneth Katzman, a senior analyst at the Congressional Research Service.