In taking control of Ariha, the largely Islamist Jaish al-Fateh coalition and its allied Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions have successfully imposed a near-total province-wide strategic defeat upon the Bashar al-Assad regime.
In the bad old days of the Cold War, the left and the right used to play a nasty game called "Who's Your Favorite Dictator?" But the terms of the game have changed.
Bashar al-Assad is not going to age out of office any time soon. He refuses to be ignored. One way or the other, we're going to have to deal with the young dictator.
In a new video posted online, Nusra Front militants announced the formation of a 'Jaish al-Fateh' branch in the Qalamoun region. Jaish al-Fateh (Army of Conquest) is the same rebel alliance which has scored numerous victories in recent weeks against the Assad regime in northern Syria's Idlib Province.
The regional response in March 2015, to the advance of Iranian-backed Shia Houthis on the Southern Port of Aden in Yemen exposed two very revealing components of Middle Eastern geo-politics.
Jihadi John is the new international Bogey-Man. He gets plenty of media coverage these days, and has become a lightning rod of moral outrage in the West. But the media narrative around this new Evil Incarnate comes with a huge price tag: it obscures much more significant realities.
Jordan's boundless generosity has provided a safe haven for the human tide of refugees that have been thrust upon it from war-ravaged Syria and Iraq.
The removal from Syria of the Assad regime's stockpile of chemical weapons shows that joint efforts can yield positive results. Likewise, by agreeing to extend the international negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, the parties to the talks have kept alive the promise of a final deal, which would be a great victory for multilateral diplomacy.
It should be clear after four bloody years in Syria that if we are to make any progress moving forward, it is necessary to shed illusions and fantasies that have shaped too much of the discussion about the conflict.
The lone American in the trailer leans over the students to study their moves, his Syrian translator practically attached to his hip. The Karam Leadership Program identification card hanging around his neck sways side-to-side as he points out a strategic mistake.
While some of the young are despondent, looking for nothing more than to grow old enough to die, the vast majority still dream of something better and are willing to do what it takes to climb themselves out of "The Lost Generation" that the international human-rights community has labeled them. Among these hopefuls, leaders emerge, those with an intense devotion to learning.
When we asked citizens in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and UAE whether they believed the Middle East was better off or worse off as a result of the Arab Spring the responses were largely divided.
Many do not remember their homes back in Syria, and do not think of their current dimly-lit slabs of concrete with yellow water and no heat as "home". Trying to draw them out, Lina suggests they sketch their future homes instead. The dream home they will have when they return to Syria.
We sit in the garden of the Salam school in the city of Reyhanli, at the Turkey-Syria border. The wind ruffles the olive trees, and from the corner of my eye I see the school's pet ducks and rabbits basking in the afternoon sun. This is the setting of Karam's journalism class.
The new U.N. envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, hopes that a ceasefire would serve as a "concrete example" and a model for other frontline areas in the country. But de Mistura is likely walking into a trap.
Nobel Peace Prize-winning Obama is looking to one-up George W. Bush in the toppling of dictators' category as he redoubles efforts to overthrow the Syrian government. Unfortunately, Obama's obsession to effect regime change in Damascus will likely only bolster the Islamic State, which happens to be a sworn enemy of Assad the Apostate.