I’ve watched Baghdad descend into chaos. However it’s the town the place I really feel most at residence

I have a rolodex of memories, many of them fraught with the sort of pain that grips you by the throat.

I’ll never forget the piercing wail of a woman falling to the ground, her hijab tumbling off, her auburn hair spilling out, as she screamed with an agony the depths of which I had never heard. We were outside a hospital in Samarra in 2004; her brother was one of the dead inside, killed as the US military tried to take the city back from Sunni insurgents.

I can still remember how speechless I was when one of our Iraqi staff walked into the bureau looking pale and shellshocked and told us how they found his cousin’s decapitated body.

I can see the bloody handprints on the wall in the back of a church, in a room where people tried to hide as armed men gunned them down.

Much has changed in the last 18 years, and much has been done to create an appearance of change.

The endless bombings, day after day, flesh splattered across buildings, hanging from lampposts and trees.

The shock as Iraqis watched their country unravel, gripped by such violence and cruelty that neighbors turned on each…