As mentioned in previous blog posts, the two powers that are very keen for the Syrian regime to fall to the rebels are: 1) Israel, because the regime supports Hezbollah which kidnaps Israeli soldiers, and 2) Saudi Arabia because the regime is Shia aligned and the rebels are Sunni.
One more or less guaranteed way to get America to join the conflict on the side of the rebels was for the regime to do something beyond the pale such as using chemical weapons. And on the 21st of August the regime did just that. They fired rockets containing sarin gas at Ghouta - a rebel-controlled suburb of Damascus.
Or did they?
The Russians are now claiming that the rockets were actually launched by Saudi forces who had infiltrated through Jordan.
Between 1,000 and 2,000 people died in the gas attacks and we all saw the long rows of dead children on our TV screens. But did the regime actually do the deed? Why would they? They had nothing to gain by it - they were basically winning the conflict in that area anyway, and they really don't want the Americans coming in on the side of the rebels.
In fact, on the day, it was reported that intercepted radio conversations between the regime HQ and field units consisted of the HQ demanding to know why chemical weapons were being used. It seems they did not order it.
Of course it's all ancient history now. The Russians wrong-footed the US-Israel-Saudi axis by brokering a chemical weapon surrender deal and it looks like the Americans will not be supporting the rebels anytime soon - which is just as well, effectively it would be America supporting Al Qaeda. The rebels are generally not Syrians. They are every Sunni militant with an AK47 for hundreds of miles in all directions.
The Russian allegation that the attack was a Saudi dirty trick therefore seems plausible. Of course it is academic now. The Israel-Saudi alliance, with their tame US president, are going to have think of something new if they want to snatch Syria from the Russians.