There are discouraging signs for talks scheduled for January: the main rebel forces will not send a representative, and President Assad has less reason to compromise after recent battlefield gains.
As leader of the Tawhid Brigade, Abdulkader al-Saleh was an important figure in the Syrian rebellion. He was expected to rise high in rebel ranks until he was killed by government forces.
The US-Saudi relationship, which is built on defense partnerships and oil wealth, has been publicly strained over disagreement over Syria, warming US-Iran ties, and a UN Security Council seat.
This week's roundup of Good Reads includes Malala Yousafzai's year of strength, a not-so-smart online drug dealer, an explanation from President Assad, what makes Justice Antonin Scalia tick, and scientific findings around saying, 'I'm sorry.'
The international effort to destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile is unprecedented for its tight deadline and dangerous security situation.
Iraq is the only other country that has been forced to surrender its chemical weapons.