Syria conflict: West criticises Assad election plan
Such is Syria's deep, dangerous divide that an election makes absolute sense for some, and is profoundly absurd for others.
President Assad has hinted for more than a year that it was his right to run again.
As preparations gathered pace, the opposition slammed this poll as a "parody of democracy". Even the UN envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, diplomatically said that, if it went ahead, the opposition "will probably not be interested in talking to the government".
But the Geneva talks went nowhere. And President Assad's forces, backed by Hezbollah fighters, have recaptured territory in some strategic areas, including around Damascus.
Fighting is nevertheless intensifying in other areas, like Aleppo, as opposition groups get more and better arms from their backers. It is expected that more mortars will fall on Damascus, and other cities, as rebel fighters show their opposition to a poll they have been unable to stop.
Syria crisis: Russian roulette of random attacks
Minutes later… or before. Metres on one side… or the other. That can be the measure between life or death in Syria. That's the cruel consequence of random attacks in a ravaging war.
"If the mortar had landed 15 minutes later, the children would have been in their classrooms," lamented a school official in the Bab Touma area of the Old City of Damascus not long after a mortar slammed into a schoolyard full of children this week.
Afghans set to defy the Taliban in presidential vote
There's nothing like an election when it's not certain who will win, when candidates campaign like every vote counts, and voters are engaged.
That's Afghanistan in 2014.
Kabul guest house attack: Stories of survival
All five men were visibly shaken. Some were bloodied from scratches. But theirs is an extraordinary story of survival after a four-hour long attack on their Kabul guest house.
"I'm amazed to be alive," one survivor kept repeating as he recounted how he hid under his bed on the third floor of the guest house for more than two hours.
Kabul ushers in uncertain New Year
Kabul's Salaam Khana was once a stately palace where kings were crowned and Afghans gathered to salute their royal ruler.
This week it set the stage for a new chapter in Afghanistan's chequered history.
Lyse answers your questions on Iran
Four days in Tehran
Four days in the teeming mega-metropolis of Tehran is not enough. But it was just enough to savour what's long been special about this city.
There were also moments of surprise. And even a short stay was enough to appreciate the enduring centrality and sensitivity of Iran's engagement with the wider world.
Iranians hope for better fortunes in Persian New Year
Iranians are preparing for the Persian New Year - the Nawroz festival that symbolises happiness, health and new hope.
The country's shops and bazaars are packed with shoppers but many Iranians are experiencing the hardships caused by crippling economic sanctions.
Ashton visit to Iran sparks co-operation and controversy
A visit to explore the potential for a new relationship between Iran and Europe has also ended up highlighting the enduring sensitivity of the old.
Hardliners have been on a political warpath this week after the first visit to Tehran by the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.