Four years of conflict has killed at least 220,000 people, created approximately 3.2m refugees and around 30 million Syrians are dependent on external aid. The UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan De Mistura, gives his assessment.
The Arab world featured prominently in Amnesty International's annual report in which the rights group described the response of world leaders to human rights violations by states or armed groups as 'shameful'.
The Iraqi government recently passed a budget but the country still has a chronically flawed economy. Foreign currency reserves and contracts with the oil companies are potential targets to help the government finance its deficit.