Annan Warns Iraq on Brink of Civil War

UNITED NATIONS ~ UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned this week that urgent action is needed by the entire international community to drag Iraq back from the brink of all-out civil war.

Speaking as Iraqi leaders defended their policies to potential aid donors at the UN General Assembly, Annan joined their appeal for a quick and massive international effort to strengthen the embattled government in Baghdad and “bring Iraq back from the brink.”

“If current patterns of alienation and violence persist much longer, there is a grave danger that the Iraqi state will break down, possibly in the midst of full-scale civil war,” Annan said.

Following Annan’s address, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani gave an impassioned defense of his government’s strategy for combating terrorism and sectarian violence, disbanding rival militias and reforming government security services.

He also pledged to create a credible national unity government and institute wide-ranging economic reforms, including guarantees for foreign investors, a sound national oil law and transparency on how money is distributed and spent, according to a senior US official who attended the closed-door talks.

The meeting of foreign ministers and other leaders on the so-called Iraq Compact came as another 62 Iraqis were reported killed in suicide bombings or ethnic carnage between the country’s majority Shia and minority Sunni Muslim communities.

Annan said Iraq, which was invaded by a US-led force that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003, had made “important progress” in the past two years with two national elections, a constitutional referendum and a constitutional process.

But he said much more needed to be done both by Iraq’s leaders and the international community.

Monday’s meeting was the biggest yet in a US-backed effort to create a new “Iraq Compact” – an agreement between the government and international donors that would commit Baghdad to political and economic reforms in return for a major influx of foreign investment and aide.

The gathering was attended by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, officials from all Iraq’s neighbors and a wide array of European governments, according to the senior State Department official.

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