Dec 4, 2006

Outgoing U.N. Chief On Iraq and Iran

The current situation in Iraq has become "much worse" than civil war, with life for ordinary Iraqis worse than under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, Kofi Annan has said.

In a damning assessment of present circumstances, the outgoing UN Secretary General said he had no doubt about the gravity of Iraq's position, "given the level of the violence, the level of killing and the way the forces are ranged against each other".

"A few years ago, when we had the strife in Lebanon and other places, we called that a civil war. This is much worse," he told the BBC. ...

Asked in the BBC interview about claims that the country's citizens had been better off under the regime of the ousted dictator, Mr Annan said he understood the analogy. "If I was an average Iraqi, I would make the same comparison," he said.

"They had a dictator who was brutal but they had their streets: they could go out, their kids could go to school and come back without a mother or father worrying 'Am I going to see my child again?'". ...

Commenting on speculation that Iran's insistence on proceeding with its nuclear ambitions could lead to further military action, Mr Annan warned that the Middle East would not be able to handle another crisis.

"It's in a very precarious and delicate state at this moment and I have indicated quite clearly that on the Iranian issue we need to do whatever we can to get a negotiated solution and that, in my mind, is the only one."

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