What began in 2001 as a focused effort to topple the Taliban and rout al Qaeda has become an endless, costly, and unrealistic effort with no clearly discernible endpoint... It has become our forgotten war, and the chief aim of those in charge of the operation seems to be keeping it off the front pages... And make no mistake, it is a war. Afghan civilian casualties hit a new high in 2016, and government security forces suffered more than 15,000 casualties and more than 5,000 killed.

For months, Assad's army has been on the advance across Syria. But its military success has only been possible due to the significant assistance...from Iran and Russia -- and from local Syrian militias. Now, these fighters are taking over control in many areas, committing murder, looting and harassing civilians. And nobody can stop them, not even Assad himself. Indeed, the militias are now more powerful than even the country's leader and have become the real holders of power in Syria.

as the rebels became increasingly radicalized, many began to see groups like ISIS as the bigger threat. Hezbollah morphed from needless aggressor to the only entity standing between Lebanon and a fundamentalist Islamic state ... And while Syria’s brutal civil war isn’t over—and the group faces enemies, both from within and without—Hezbollah has solidified its standing as the most powerful force in Lebanon. Once dependent on Assad for its survival, the group is now stronger than he is.

If the dam ruptured, it would likely cause a catastrophe of Biblical proportions, loosing a wave as high as a hundred feet that would roll down the Tigris, swallowing everything in its path for more than a hundred miles. Large parts of Mosul would be submerged in less than three hours. Along the riverbanks, towns and cities containing the heart of Iraq’s population would be flooded; in four days, a wave as high as sixteen feet would crash into Baghdad, a city of six million people.

the resolution draws a clear distinction between residents of the settlements, along with the products produced there, and Israeli residents and products, and urges member states to distinguish between these “in their relevant dealings.” The E.U. has already decided that Israel must identify products from the settlements with a label and has proposed to exclude the settlements from free-trade privileges. The new resolution invites all member states to impose similar restrictions.

The kingdom may have stretched its current limits by extracting a record of around 10.7 million bpd this year... one reason why Riyadh pushed so hard for a global deal to cut production. Riyadh... felt the burn of cheap oil this year...as the reality of its costly war in Yemen and the task of shaking up its economy to create thousands of jobs began to sink in. The government is trying to boost non-oil revenue and modernize the economy through an ambitious reform plan called "Vision 2030."

The Islamic State, which is run by a deviant strain of Sunni fanatics, has been a disaster for all Sunnis across the region. Sunnis account for as much as ninety per cent of the Arab population and almost a fifth of the global population ... Now their world is in ruins. They have suffered the largest losses in lives and property and make up the largest percentage of refugees. They are under attack from other sects and have little to fall back on politically, despite their numbers.

US President-elect Donald Trump has spoken frequently of his interest to work with Russia to fight IS, and he suggested he is inclined to cut US support for Syrian rebel groups that oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. By contrast, the... Obama administration, while avoiding direct escalation against the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian backers, has steadfastly refused... cooperation with the Assad regime and has said it believes he lost the legitimacy to govern Syria.

While a unified media law has long been anticipated in Parliament, the bill has seemingly been divided into several parts, causing tension among legislators. Critics say the diversion from a unified bill changes the scope of the law, leaving media regulation up for grabs. The government’s amendments.. also included permitting pre-trial detention in publishing crimes, and removing the provision prohibiting the search of offices and homes of journalists.

Saudi Arabia is critical because of its unique position in the Afghan conflict: It is on both sides. A longtime ally of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has backed Islamabad’s promotion of the Taliban. Over the years, wealthy Saudi sheikhs and rich philanthropists have also stoked the war by privately financing the insurgents ... the Saudis — through private or covert channels — have tacitly supported the Taliban in ways that make the kingdom an indispensable power broker.