For more than a century, Iraq was a beacon of visual art in the Arab world.The Ottomans, the British and the Iraqi rulers who followed prided themselves on the fact that Iraqi artists studied their craft abroad, then returned to practice it back home.Artists even thrived under Saddam Hussein.
Five years ago, Iraqi insurgents in Samarra, north of Baghdad, detonated four bombs in a shrine that is one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam.The destruction of the Askariya shrine brought the most vicious sectarian warfare that Iraq has seen.
While protests in the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi towns have been small compared with elsewhere in the Arab world, they have shaken the government of Nouri al-Maliki.The Iraqi prime minister at first reacted like strongmen who have ruled Iraq in the past — with violence.
These days, it seems like there are two Iraqs.There's the Iraq that we know, where Baghdad is the capital, and where low-level bombings and political infighting are the norm.And then there's a place that tour groups are calling "the other Iraq": the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.
There are still questions about whether some U.S. troops will remain in Iraq beyond the withdrawal deadline set for the end of this year. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki said in December there's no need for a continued U.S.
In Iraq, large demonstrations have led to violence and clashes with riot police, as protesters use a "Day of Rage" to demand an end to food shortages and electricity outages that they say have only gotten worse in recent years.Thousands of protesters hit the streets of Basra Friday, forcing the city