Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) meets with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in Istanbul, Dec. 22, 2010. Turkey is vying with Iran to be the most influential regional power in Iraq. Tolga Bozoglu/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Tolga Bozoglu/AFP/Getty Images

Retired Army Sgt. Alexander Reyes (right), from Miami, responds to applause at Camp Liberty in Baghdad after sharing the story of how he was wounded by an IED in 2007. He is one of seven wounded veterans who recently returned to Iraq as part of Operation Proper Exit, a program aimed at helping soldiers heal from traumatic injuries. Deborah Amos/NPR hide caption

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An Iraqi man holds a sign reading "Baghdad will not be Kandahar" in Arabic as he takes part in a Dec. 3 protest in Baghdad organized by poets and intellectuals against the closure of nightclubs and a ban on alcohol sales. Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Operation Gratitude volunteer Joan Mazzarelli models one of the hats and scarves she knits for the care packages. Since March, the 98-year-old has knitted 527 scarfs for the troops. Courtesy of Maryssa D'Angelo hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Maryssa D'Angelo

Iraqi Christians hoping to emigrate to France following a spate of violence against Christians across Iraq wait last month outside the French Consulate in the northern city of Irbil. Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Hotel staff prepare food at the al-Basra Sheraton in Basra. Normal life is returning to the oil-rich southern province. Nabil al-Jurani/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Nabil al-Jurani/AP

Marines on patrol in Afghanistan's Helmand province walk near a blast crater from a homemade explosive device. Roadside bombs are the leading killer of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The American military has turned to mathematics and social network analysis to help identify bombers and their supporters. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption David Gilkey/NPR