Former Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi says Iraq in civil war


Iraq's former interim prime minister said the increasing attacks across his country can only be described as a civil war, and that the United States and Europe could be touched by spreading violence.

Speaking to the BBC this morning, Mr Ayad Allawi said: "It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more."

"If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."

Allawi, who heads the Iraqi National List, a secular alliance of Shia and Sunni politicians, said the violence in the country was moving toward "the point of no return."

He said not only that Iraq could "fall apart," but added that "sectarianism will spread throughout the region, and even Europe and the United States would not be spared all the violence that may occur as a result of sectarian problems in this region."

British Defence Secretary John Reid said during a visit to Iraq yesterday that while there was "a greater degree of sectarian violence," he didn't believe civil war was imminent.

"I don't think any of us would deny that that is a problem, but not a problem to the degree that we think civil war is imminent or inevitable," he said on the second day of a three-day visit to Iraq.

Iraq's newly elected Parliament was seated on Thursday, and representatives of its Shiite Arab, Sunni Arab and Kurdish blocs have been meeting in an effort to overcome deep divisions and agree on the makeup of a new government.

Allawi said the formation of a national unity government was the means the country needs to achieve the goal of a peaceful country.