It was the last week of August 2013. I was Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The course of the Arab uprisings of 2011, which had been greeted with such naïve optimism at the time, had become bloody, not least in Syria. Only the previous week there had been ac hemical weapons attack on opposition-controlled areas of Damascus in the ancient oasis – the Ghouta – that lies to the south-east of the city.
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