Coming to grips with the memories and lessons of America’s long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is a task that will occupy those who fought them, and who still fight them, for many years. That ongoing struggle is especially complicated for those whose responsibilities gave them a perspective into the strategic decisions that determined the courses of those wars. The histories of these conflicts and of relevant predecessors will predominate in any thinking about them, but their counterparts in fiction can also convey the subjective and personal aspects of the experience of war in ways that history cannot.
Since the bloody Syrian civil war began in 2011, foreign fighters have been streaming in to join the fight against the infidels, as Bashar al-Assad’s regime is known. What began as a revolution to overthrow the Assad regime has turned into a training ground for jihadis from all over the world, many from European nations. One group of foreign fighters is making their presence known, due to their experience and tenacity. While most of the world is focused on the battle between Assad and the Syrian rebels, Chechens are becoming known as some of the best fighters in Syria. Their prominence is growing, and it is alarming.
Suicide bombings are nothing new — it is a tactic that been in use since the early 1980s — but it has typically been a man’s game. Until recently, that is. There is no place where female suicide bombers have blossomed more than in the Caucasus region of Russia: Chechnya and Dagestan. The practice of suicide bombings did not originate here but seems to be thriving in the Caucasus.