By Robert Fisk
"........That the great and the good should have met in Paris to help "save" Lebanon - a country which has fewer than 4 million people - shows how desperate the situation in Beirut has now become. The stakes are high for a Western world which sees "extremism" behind any threat within Middle Eastern countries. The Saudis have already sought Syria's help - no doubt oiling their appeal in the usual way - while Iranian diplomats have been visiting Riyadh. So at least the largest Shia country is talking to the richest Sunni nation.
The mere fact that these talks can be viewed in such a way shows how dark are the shadows falling across the region. From the Pakistan border to the Mediterranean, almost every land is in crisis. Suddenly, all the Western talk of a Sunni-Shia war looks troublingly real. But, in an Arab world weaned on conspiracies - not all of them imaginary as the Iranians can fully attest after the CIA's overthrow of the Mossadeq regime in 1953 - many believe it has been the West's intention all along to divide their lands on religious lines. "