The former Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda has become an important driving force behind the global jihad, in its current guise as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
Competing regional agendas continue to drive the two leading Kurdish actors in the region apart and because of this, they cannot agree on a joint policy to aid the Syrian Kurds.
Villages, towns, and entire farming regions in Syria are being depopulated by violence, social breakdown, and economic collapse; they may never again be able to sustain a population of the size they held before 2011.
The regime's removal of a military intelligence chief of the southern Syrian city of Sweida after protests led by Druze religious sheikhs indicates that the position of the regime in the city is not as strong as it once was.
The emergence of the Sham Legion, a moderate Islamist rebel group, may be a significant political development because, until its formation, only more conservative and Salafi-oriented brigades had managed to merge into ideologically coherent countrywide alliances.
While the ideology, politics, and public messaging of the rebel factions making up the Islamic Front have been streamlined effectively, initial hopes for closer organizational and battlefield unity have not yet borne fruit. Five months after its creation, the Islamic Front seemingly remains a rather wobbly umbrella movement.
Until Iran and all the other governments currently fanning the flames of war in Syria have accepted that no peace plan can work without a critical mass of armed actors on both sides, Syria’s slow collapse into Somalia-style anarchy will continue.
Since the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant a year ago today, the rivalry between Iraqi and Syrian militant leaders has grown into a full-blown jihadi civil war.
Made up of thousands of fighters, the Mujahideen Army dominates a chunk of the strategically important countryside west of Aleppo and exerts influence over at least some of the main supply routes from Turkey to Aleppo.
Many Syrians are well-aware of the role that major powers could play to determine the outcome of the war, but the public is divided on its support for the West. The United States and NATO are neither fully embraced nor universally reviled.
It is far too early to tell whether it will have any impact on the ground, but a new Syrian rebel leadership is finally taking form after the splits of this spring.
Syria’s oil and gas resources are too small to be considered a prize in the struggle over the country’s destiny, but energy issues still play an important part in the conflict.
As one of many cousins of Bashar al-Assad, Hilal al-Assad was perhaps on the outskirts of absolute power, but his death will still have come as a chilling reminder to the elite in Damascus of how precarious their position really is.
There have been attempts to directly address the Syrian humanitarian situation without getting caught up in the divisive politics over Assad’s future. But these attempts have so far made little progress because the conduct of the war is nearly indistinguishable from its politics.
Saudi Arabia and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood have had a difficult relationship, one that has been further complicated by the Syrian civil war.
The institutional split within the Syrian opposition's Free Syrian Army may reflect foreign countries' disputes, but it also reflects the opposition's organizational chaos and personal rivalries.
To understand the split in the Free Syrian Army that arose last month, one needs to understand the divisive history of the FSA's institutions.
Successfully navigating shifting rebel politics, the Islamist group called the Ansar al-Sham Brigades has become one of the key players in the Syrian opposition's powerful Islamic Front.
The remarkably nonsectarian and democratic statement signed by rebel factions in southern Syria in February was likely only a ploy by rebel commanders to get more foreign support by declaring their opposition to extremism.
Iran’s approach to power and ideology remains unchanged, and this directly affects its Syria policy. The Rouhani government sees its alliance with Assad in terms of a regional balance of power as well as geopolitics.