That coordination may be a step closer with the announcement by the Free Syrian Army's military council that it is restructuring. It is creating five distinct geographic commands. Mustafa Sheikh, who heads the council, told the French news agency AFP last week: "We are getting closer and closer to becoming organized, so that we can get to a stage that is accepted by the international community."
More critically he added: "When this happens, the international community will know where these weapons are going."
Senior figures within the FSA are said to be moving from Turkey back into Syria to impose greater discipline on brigades that are becoming notorious for human rights abuses.
... But it's late in the day
This injection of urgency into defeating the Assad regime is unlikely to yield results before winter, and is it not likely to allow about 400,000 Syrian refugees the chance to return home. More than 9,000 crossed into Turkey in one day last week. Cold and hunger could worsen their already precarious situation, and millions of Syrians still at home are sure to face shortages of fuel and food.
According to the United Nations refugee agency, there are at least 1.2 million internally displaced Syrians and a total of 2.5 million that need help.
Nor will the latest initiatives soon put a stop to the wholesale destruction across Syria. From the suburbs of Damascus to the central cities of Homs and Hama to the heart of Aleppo and Idlib in the north, whole neighborhoods have been razed. One video posted last Wednesday showed a wrecked school in Douma, a suburb of Damascus; another set of photographs published in the Atlantic includes scenes reminiscent of Stalingrad or Dresden.
It is extremely difficult to estimate the cost of reconstruction in Syria -- to repair homes, schools, hospitals, pipelines and highways, but also to fund post-revolutionary institutions.
One study by economist Walid Jadaa, published in September, estimated the cost of the upheaval so far at $36 billion, which includes lost remittances from Syrians overseas and an end of tourism as well as physical damage. The Syrian government recently put the cost of the conflict at $34 billion.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights has estimated that nearly 600,000 buildings have been affected and put the cost of rebuilding or replacing them at about $40 billion.
The changes in and beyond Syria in the last few weeks do not mean the imminent end of the Assad regime. Perhaps a better way of putting it is to recall how Winston Churchill described the defeat of Axis forces in North Africa in November 1942: "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."