Why would the West provoke an attack on Syrian civilians in the rebel-held city of Douma? Russia has claimed that the barbaric chemical attacks, that are a violation of international law, were designed to justify Western intervention in the Syrian civil war. Is it true? Who could be behind it if it were true? Who would attack or stage an attack on citizens to provoke a Western response and potential intervention in Syria? The claims are possible, but they would be very difficult to substantiate in a volatile and extremely complicated situation.

Here are some hard facts, however, as to why the Western position and the Russian position are at odds.

A Saudi Arabia and Iran cold war

The Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria will not fall on its own as long as Russia and Iran support it. For it to fall now, outside intervention is necessary. Rhetoric and accusations are at an all-time high as the impact of the fall of Assad's regime would have far-reaching consequences on the entire region. There is a Cold War going on between Saudi Arabia and Iran and it would break the Syrian-Iranian alliance that has been a conduit for weapons flow from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah is a Shite political party that controls the most powerful militia in Lebanon.

The Saudi's have lacked the military capacity to intervene directly but have used their oil wealth to arm Syrian rebels and to back Lebanese groups opposed to Hezbollah. A fall of Assad's regime to rebels would help to ensure that his regime would be replaced by a friendly government. The Saudi's have focused on the containment of Iran and its influence in the region.

The bottom line is that the fall of Assad's pro-Iranian regime in Syria would hinder Hezbollah's access to weapons and strengthen the Saudi's and their allies in the Middle East.

Israel's Role

The existence of the nation of Israel is at the root of all of the dilemmas in the Middle East. Syria has traditionally supported radical groups in Palestine, such as Hamas.

Hamas has rejected any dialogue with Israel. The Saudi's have backed Hamas' rival the Fatah which is the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas has advocated for peace talks with Israel. Peace talks have failed. Syria and Iran have been in conflict with Israel since it's creation in 1948 and have supported Palestinian resistance. Israel has responded to the latest Chemical Attack by a missile attack from F-15 fighters on the Tiyas airbase in Syria and has threatened intervention if chemical weapons fall into the hands of Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. The US and its Western allies have been in continual support of Israel. Israel has never backed down on defense.

Russia's support of Syria

In the 1970's the Soviet Union developed an influential relationship with Syria by providing them with aid and arms. Putin and Assad both came to power in 2000 and Putin immediately set to work to develop Russia as a great power again. This included the expansion of its military. In 2011, with the onset of the Arab Spring, Russia increased its support of Syria. Russia viewed the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, in the same year, as undermining its influence in the Arab World. Russia had a long-term relationship with Gaddafi and had provided billions of dollars in arms sales that were left pending with Gadaffi's fall. Putin, looking out for Russia's own interests, not Syria's, looked elsewhere for an outlet for their arms.

Syria, close to Russia, provided that outlet.

Russia's ties with Syria, not only provided them with arms sales but also provided an arena, for the new Russia under Putin, to ply its military might. In Syria, Russian weaponry and doctrine could be tested that could send a message of their military capabilities and showcase their weaponry to the world for potential customers. It would enhance their role in the Middle East as a major player in World Events. One that could not be ignored and whose views, as a strong power, would have to be considered on the World stage.

Going back to the initial question: "Why would the West provoke an attack on Syrian civilians in the rebel-held city of Douma?" and what about the claim by Russia that the chemical attacks were designed to justify Western intervention in the Syrian Civil War?

The West has much to gain with the fall of Assad's regime. Russia has much to gain if Assad stays in office. Yes, it is possible that the attack was orchestrated or staged by inside Western loyalists. It is also possible that the Russians did the same for their own interests and to once again test the resolve of the West. Of course, its also just possible that Assad arranged the attack. It is extremely complicated. It is an atrocity that should not occur in our world today, but finding out who was responsible is difficult. Unfortunately, complicated politics, strongly influenced by religion, will continue to frustrate the sensibilities of a world populace that does not understand why it cannot live in peace. A populace that cries out in accord for pacification.