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"Worse than a Civil War": Kofi Annan

by Die Zeit Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007 at 5:43 AM

The US govt sees the increasing violence in Iraq merely as a new phase. Annan is con-vinced the Iraqi question can only be solved with the cooperation of neighboring countries and the international community. The Iraqis must agree on distribution of oil revenues.


The problems in Iraq can only be solved with the help of the international community


[This article published in: DIE ZEIT 49/2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://zeus.zeit.de/text/online/2006/49/Irak-Annan-Bush.]

The departing UN General Secretary Kofi Annan described the situation in Iraq as “much worse” than a civil war. Life for the average Iraqi is more wretched today than under the regime of the dictator Saddam Hussein, Annan said Monday in an interview with the British BBC. The situation there is “extremely dangerous.” At the same time Annan voiced doubt that the government in Baghdad alone can bring the escalating violence under control. “They need help. Given the murders and bitterness, I am not sure they can do this alone.”

To the question whether the situation in Iraq could be termed a civil war, Annan said: “A few years ago we called the fighting in Lebanon a civil war. Iraq is much worse.” He contradicted the US government that sees the increasing violence in Iraq merely as a “new phase.”

Last weekend alone around 60 persons died in the bomb attacks and military actions in Iraq. Militant Sunnis and Shiites are blamed for the violence escalating over months. Annan is convinced the Iraqi question can only be solved with the cooperation of neighboring countries and the international community. The Iraqis themselves must agree on the constitution and the just distribution of oil- and tax revenues, the UN General Secretary said. “Not much can be done without security, no improvement and no reconstruction,” he said.

The government in Baghdad rejects Annan’s idea of an international Iraq conference. Regarding the report of the independent Baker commission released on Wednesday, Annan said: “I believe that is a confirmation that things are not running as they (the Americans and others) desired and that being critical about what is happening and changing course is necessary.”

On Sunday, the security advisor Stephen J. Hadley said president Bush would announce a “new direction” of American policy “within weeks, not months.” For a long time, Bush rejected a rapid withdrawal of US troops who according to the words of George W. Bush will remain in Iraq until the government of Iraqi president Al-Maliki can take full responsibility for security.

Annan’s remarks could encourage those in the US urging another course in Iraq. In Washington, a letter of former Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was made public in which he admitted a failure of US strategy in Iraq. Shortly before his resignation after the Congressional election in November, the secretary explained in a secret note: “What the US troops are now doing in Iraq isn’t functioning well enough or fast enough.” Rumsfeld sketched several possibilities for changing Iraq policy including a troop reduction. President Bush will meet on Monday with the chairperson of the Iraqi Shiite party (SCIRI), Abdul Asis-al Hakim.
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