While Beirut burns, the situation in Baghdad deterioates.
The gloomy scenario seems to be playing out all over the region. It risks going downhill with dangerous speed.
A well-informed friend in Washington wrote this as part of his assessment of the situation:
"I understand that the intelligence community is drafting a national intelligence estimate on the situation in Iraq, but the news is so grim that no one wants to take it to the President."
"The working level analysts have concluded the civil war is on and that we have little opportunity to affect the course of events in coming months. Reports coming from U.S. intelligence and liaison offices in Baghdad indicate that the Iraqi leadership has concluded that, practically, the city of Baghdad must be divided—with Shia and Christian Iraqis living east of the Tigris River, and Sunni Iraqi’s living in west Baghdad. “Ethnic cleansing”—both involuntary and voluntary—is now rather extensive."
And one should not overlook the interconnection between the different areas.
When Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki was in Washington a few days ago he provoked a minor political firestorm - particularly among Democrats - because he failed to suport Israel and condem Hezbollah.
Hardly surprising. What the Israelis are doing in Lebanon is obviously undercutting support for what the US and their allies are doing in Iraq.
There is a risk of the one disaster feeding the other...