After a 20-year absence, Aseel Albanna returned to her native Iraq and found a very different country. Here, she poses with the statue of King Shahryar, a character in The Thousand and One Nights, near the Tigris River in Baghdad. Sean Carberry/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Sean Carberry/NPR

Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich talks to the media as his attorney, Neal Puckett, looks on after a 2010 pretrial hearing at Camp Pendleton in California. Wuterich is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in 2005. Chris Carlson/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Carlson/AP

Hesham Abdul Ghani and his wife, Oras Touma, came to Michigan to escape religious persecution. Jacki Lyden/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Jacki Lyden/NPR

As many as 5,000 private security contractors will be protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq. The U.S. Embassy compound (above) and several consulates will have about 15,000 workers, making it the largest diplomatic operation abroad. Lucas Jackson/Reuters/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Lucas Jackson/Reuters/Landov

After delivering mass, Monsignor Pius Kasha poses with security officials who are guarding the Syriac Catholic church in the Mansour neighborhood in Baghdad. Sean Carberry/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Sean Carberry/NPR

Iraqi security forces inspect a crater caused by a car bomb attack in the neighborhood of Karrada in Baghdad earlier today (Dec. 22, 2011). It was one in a wave of such bombings in the Iraqi capital today. Hadi Mizban/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Hadi Mizban/AP