I don’t really know why I am writing this. In some ways it is ironic. Less than twelve hours ago I was complaining to two close friends about how tired I am of reading Iraq war reflections. Yet here I sit in front of my keyboard with a stack of pictures and a bottle of scotch. I have never really written or talked much about my time in Iraq. Not because I find it difficult but mostly because I never really thought I had anything of value to say. The stories that are published online or printed in newspapers and magazines are usually written by officers, senior enlisted men or policy makers who regale readers with strategic and tactical adventures. They relive important moments in the war or walk through the thought process that ended in some critical decision. My war always seemed different than that.
A few days ago the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), a Sunni militant group with links to Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the March 8th massacre of 48 Syrian and nine Iraqi soldiers in Iraq’s western province of Anbar. The attack targeted an Iraqi army convoy that was returning Syrian troops who crossed into Iraq to escape rebel fighters. Originally, the operation was attributed the Al-Nusra Front, a Sunni insurgent group in Syria that is also linked to Al-Qaeda and has been labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. government. The reality is that it doesn’t matter if the attack was carried out by Al-Qaeda’s Syrian or Iraqi front. What matters is that the attack is the most glaring sign to date that Syria’s civil war is spilling over into an Iraq that is struggling with increased sectarian tensions and fears of another civil war. Continue reading