Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad bases his power on his Alawite minority. They make up a big portion of his Army and his government leadership. So, when an Alawite defects, he's cast as an outsider from his own people, but also by the rebels, who don't trust any Alawites.
There are always tensions between Israel's Jewish and Palestinian communities. But last week, that tension took a serious turn when a group of Israeli Jewish teens attacked a group of Palestinian teens and sent one to the hospital with serious injuries.
Syria has a cache of weapons of mass destruction, certainly including chemical weapons, possibly including biological weapons, and on Monday President Barack Obama warned Syria that moving or using any of those weapons would bring swift U.S. military intervention.
Israel is becoming increasingly agitated about the possibility that Iran could develop nuclear weapons. Gas masks have been handed out, warning systems have been tested, leading many to think the government is marching toward war. That has some Israelis accusing their government of over reacting.
In a plan to expand job opportunities for women, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is proposing a women-only industrial zone in one of its new industrial cities near Hofuf.
Syria's civil war continues to wear on with both sides claiming huge gains in their effort to win control of the country. A former Syrian prime minister, Riad Hijab, however, went on TV and said the Syrian regime is collapsing.
Palestine's economy suffers under the weight of the long-running Israeli occupation. And while it's resumed growth, that growth is tied to foreign aid. Economists say to achieve true stability, it needs a vibrant private sector economy -- and that requires a peace agreement with Israel.
There's more trouble unfolding this week in Egypt, as its newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, confronts violence on the Sinai Peninsula. The emerging crisis has become one of the biggest tests for Morsi's two-month-old presidency.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, women and human rights groups are demanding that Palestinian leaders do more to stop violence against women. The call comes in the wake of a murder in Bethlehem last week that has shocked the Palestinian public. Activists hope the case will raise awareness of domestic violence.
Egypt this week moved to block access to the country from the Gaza Strip in the wake of an assault on an Egyptian border station over the weekend. The attackers attempted to flee into Israel but were halted by the Israeli Air Force.