By far the most important development in Iraq for our side this past year has been the decision of the Sunni tribes to tilt provisionally with the US against al Qaeda. It doesn't move the ball forward much - because it doesn't address the basic problem, which is Sunni-Shiite suspicion. But it definitely helped restore some semblance of order, and kept some pressure on the al Qaeda menace that Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney brought to Iraq. Now, though, the deeper reality seems to be resurfacing. The Sunnis are pissed at inevitable clashes with US troops, there is more worry about the Jihadists infiltrating the Awakening, and the refusal of the central "government" to integrate the Sunni forces in more than a nominal fashion is prompting some defections and the usual anti-American grumbling.
It doesn't mercifully seem like a huge problem yet. But the band-aid may be coming off. The wound continues to fester. As it has for, er, centuries.