Thursday, March 20, 2008

Annan warns against conflict with Iran

Former UN chief Kofi Annan didn't pull any punches in a round-table talk with journalists on Thursday.

"We cannot, I'm sure, take on another military action in Iran, and I hope no one is contemplating it. It would be a real disaster," Annan said. He added that he did not have enough information yet to support the UN Security Council's call on Iran to halt uranium enrichment, but did say that talking was the only path forward and that military action could cause the entire Middle East to explode. He cited his own role as mediator in the recent crisis in Kenya, which was brought to a peaceful conclusion after a month of riots that threatened to plunge the country into civil war.

Annan called the Mid East a "very dangerous region" and noted how conflicts in one part of the region can fuel conflict in another. "The international community has to handle that situation very carefully because any miscalculation can lead to very serious explosions," he added. Annan cited Lebanon’s inability to select a president, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and fighting between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq as other major problems in the region.

He also called the international community out on the handling of the situation in Darfur saying that there was "quite a bit of hypocrisy on all sides" of the conflict. Annan pointed out that the African Union has been encouraged by wealthy western nations to take on a peacekeeping role, but that these nations have not agreed to financially support the AU mission, which the AU members cannot afford to fund on their own.
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