Russia has been serving as a buffer between Israel and Iran amid the fighting in Syria. But Israel's restraint appears to be fraying – making the state of relations between Iran and Russia critical to managing any outbreak of fighting.
Russian and US-allied forces avoided conflict during Friday's airstrikes on alleged Syrian chemical weapon sites. But Moscow sees the US's ongoing involvement in Syria as nothing more than spoiler. Still, analysts say, Russia needs the US to help diplomatically.
Much blood has been spilled in Syria's civil war, and many of Assad's neighbors have supported forces that sought his ouster. Whether to reengage with someone accused of crimes against humanity is more than just a tactical decision.
The veteran prosecutor decried Russian obstruction at the UN and a lack of political will in her decision to quit the war crimes probe into Syria. But others cite progress and note justice often does not come until the conflict is over.
Suspension of a CIA program that armed and trained the rebels leaves them with few options. Some may join the US-backed anti-ISIS campaign, but others may join jihadists to pursue their campaign against Assad. Some already have.
A surge in anti-Western sentiment that fed into President Erdoğan's campaign for broader powers is one factor behind the crackdown. Some NGOs have been closed and their workers expelled, though the need for war relief is undiminished.
The Tanf garrison used by the US coalition to train militias to fight ISIS sits on a highway Iran would like to control for its strategic advantage. Forces are gathering and shots have been fired as fundamental interests clash.
A UN pilot program funded by Germany offers educated Syrian and Jordanian partners the training to launch their own start-ups, promoting self-reliance while benefiting the financially stressed host society.
From the Kurds' perspective, many chapters in their history of military cooperation with the US have ended in disappointment. In Syria, the Kurdish YPG is the key US ally in the fight against ISIS, and they have expectations.
Domestic violence is reported to have risen sharply among Syrians forced to flee their homeland. While many aid programs target women, some groups in Lebanon are putting new focus on men, hoping to address the problem at the source.
Despite Trump's warm words about Putin during his presidential campaign, the Kremlin has found little common ground with the new administration – and little indication that the US has a coherent plan in Syria or elsewhere.
The Tomahawk cruise missiles fired at a Syrian air base were a clear message to Assad from President Trump that the use of chemical weapons would not be tolerated. They did not signal support for regime change.
Though Russia has been dealing with terrorism for many years, it has mostly been rooted in domestic conflicts in the Caucasus. But Monday's deadly bombing of a St. Petersburg metro seems likely linked to Russia's involvement in Syria's civil war.
On the secretary of State's agenda in Ankara Thursday is the Raqqa, Syria, offensive. But his real challenge is Turkey's disappointment that Trump's election hasn't brought a new alignment of US and Turkish interests.
Arab leaders are gathered in Jordan, but the region's main movers and shakers – Iran, Russia, and Turkey – are absent, a telling sign that the Arab League's influence over events and its own citizens has waned.
Having spent heavily to preserve its geopolitical link to Hezbollah, Iran appears to be settling in for a long presence in Syria. That has caught the attention of the US and Israel, which fears a widening of its Southern Lebanon front to the Golan Heights.
Just weeks after the eastern part of the city was liberated, schools are scrambling to accommodate eager learners. Education suffered badly under ISIS, which imposed a curriculum filled with violent viewpoints and drove away students fearful of being forcefully recruited.
Even as the Trump administration closes US borders to some refugees, Canada's decades-old private refugee sponsorship program is getting another look by nations struggling with their own influxes of migrants.
Russia, Iran, and Turkey agreed Tuesday to sketch the outlines of a wider political settlement to Syria's civil war, which would be taken to larger talks in Geneva that include the US, the EU, and other major players.