Some Christian families started to trickle back following the truce between the regime forces and the rebels but life will never go back the way it was. Most Muslim families were not allowed to return to their homes. This year, Christmas in Homs will have a big void, its Muslim merrymakers.
Historians may look back and see 2014 as the tipping point when the world started falling apart instead of coming together. Visionary scientists remain enthusiastic that, thanks to converging new technologies from artificial intelligence to regenerative medicine, genetic synthesis and green energy, our civilization is on the threshold of a new and harmonious singularity. Yet, all around us the signs of splintering abound in revived nationalisms, ardent religious wars and the reappearance of geopolitical blocs. Even the global connectivity of the Internet once thought to embody a world spirit is balkanizing.
This is how a journalist who writes about human traffickers suddenly became a human trafficker himself.
I wonder if something slightly odd has happened in the past six months or so, whereby the attention devoted to the group in the media and political spheres has dwelt unceasingly on their "barbarity" but failed to actually convey the scale of the human rights crimes involved. Has the effect been to almost trivialise the reality?
How can we allow this? How are we supposed to explain to the children brought up in the west why children in other parts of the world aren't granted even the tiniest of safety?
"The first thing we need to do is find a way in which we can 'freeze' the situation in Aleppo. These people have been under siege for two years. The city is very close to collapsing. If we do not do anything and the city collapses, it could fall into the hands of ISIS, which is only 20 kilometers away, and that would be an even bigger tragedy."
In denouncing Obama's Cuba initiative, Republican political figures have planted themselves firmly in the past, just as they had denounced diplomatic ties with China and the Panama Canal treaty.
Some Syrian activists question how committed the Kurds are to toppling the Syrian dictator. The Kurds, for their part, distrust Turkey, which supports the Syrian opposition. These debates and dynamics are mostly unknown to American progressives.
The story is as old as the tale of Moses but to see it repeated and repeated is shocking - the deliberate killing of children for political or religious reasons.
It's Christmas time. There's no need to be afraid, or so the Band Aid lyrics start. Sadly, in today's world they express more an aspirational desire than an actual reality. Syria, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Ebola outbreak give plenty of reason for fear.
Nawfal is a gentle little boy. In a crowd of rowdy children, he stands back and quietly observes. He doesn't say much. But I promise you: If you had seen him that day, and if you had the courage to look into his eyes, you would cry just as I did when I got home. I wish you could have seen his eyes and sensed his defeat.
In today's topsy-turvy environment, all bets are off. Rather than focus on critical upcoming legislative elections and a major conference to help attract investments to Egypt's struggling economy, TV channels seem sidelined by matters that raise eyebrows and questions given their timing.
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.
It took an insolent Hollywood comedy mocking the surreal character of North Korea's Kim Jong Un to awaken us to the dangers of a new code war, a war in which geopolitical and geo-cultural battles will be duked out in cyberspace. As Alec Ross, America's top digital diplomat when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, writes this week in The WorldPost, "the weaponization of code is the most significant development in warfare since the weaponization of fissile material." Other battles are also shaping up to determine the contours of our digital future. Lu Wei, China's Internet czar, makes his case for sovereign rule over cyberspace. Amy Chang examines how the Chinese campaign for "Internet sovereignty" will rupture the World Wide Web. (continued)
More than than three years into Syria's brutal civil war, Syrian Kurds have carved out an entity of their own close to the border with Turkey.
If you ask me, Obama's action on Cuba was a master stroke, and full of foresight. He has undercut Putin's ability to use Cuba as a pressure point against the U.S. going forward and has, in a single action, transformed a net negative for the U.S. and Cuba into a net positive for its government, people, and businesses.