The massacre of Iraq's Yazidis and enslavement of their women by Islamic State militants in summer 2014 put the minority sect on the world's agenda. Now Yazidi women are being trained by paramilitaries to fight for themselves.
A nuclear agreement agreed in July has triggered interest from European countries who expect their sanctions to be lifted next year. But the US will maintain non-nuclear sanctions that could stifle investment.
Previous cease-fires failed to hold in the towns, where Sunnis and Shiite residents are besieged. But a realization that both sides benefit is generating hope this one, to be overseen by the UN, will succeed.