The sectarian war is taking deeper root in Iraq. The consequences for the region will be dire. The Wall Street Journal explains the stakes through a nice piece of narrative journalism:
For Iraq, he was a decorated war hero, severely wounded in battle. As an officer for the Iraqi army, Brigadier General Mustafa Al Mashhadani fought against Iran in the 1980s, against Kuwait in the early 1990s, and on his home turf against Americans in 2003.But now, coming out of retirement at age 55, he is doing battle with a new enemy in his hometown of Fallujah: the army he served for decades. And he is doing it with a contingent of more than a hundred al Qaeda-linked fighters. […]Gen. Mashhadani admits that it was “bad luck” that compelled him to join with al Qaeda. But for the first time since 2003, he says, he is earning a respectable salary of about $1,000 a month—comparable to that of a new army lieutenant, he says. And he has a refrigerator stocked with food, some spare cash to spend and a loyal following of young soldiers who value his hard-won expertise.“Today I will prove to Maliki and to anyone who refused my return to the army that I deserve to be an army commander,” he said. “Today, I am absolutely with al Qaeda.”
Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq are becoming one battle-space, with the Saudis backing increasingly radical Sunnis and Iran backing the Shiites and Alawites. The downward spiral continues.