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.'