Middle East turmoil could cause world war: U.S.
08/27/07 -- VIENNA (Reuters) - Upheaval in the
Middle East and Islamic civilization could cause
another world war, the U.S. ambassador to the United
Nations was quoted as saying in an Austrian
newspaper interview published on Monday.
Zalmay Khalilzad told the daily Die Presse the
Middle East was now so disordered that it had the
potential to inflame the world as Europe did during
the first half of the 20th century.
"The (Middle East) is going through a very difficult
transformation phase. That has strengthened
extremism and creates a breeding ground for
terrorism," he said in remarks translated by Reuters
into English from the published German.
"Europe was just as dysfunctional for a while. And
some of its wars became world wars. Now the problems
of the Middle East and Islamic civilization have the
same potential to engulf the world," he was quoted
Khalilzad, interviewed by Die Presse while attending
a foreign policy seminar in the Austrian Alps, said
the Islamic world would eventually join the
international mainstream but this would take some
"They started late. They don't have a consensus on
their concept. Some believe they should return to
the time (6th-7th century) of the Prophet Mohammad,"
he was quoted as saying.
"It may take decades before some understand that
they can remain Muslims and simultaneously join the
Khalilzad was also quoted as saying Iraq would need
foreign forces for security for a long time to come.
"Iraq will not be in a position to stand on its own
feet for a longer period," he said in the interview.
Asked whether that could be 10-20 years, he said:
"Yes, indeed, it could last that long. What form the
help takes will depend a lot on the Iraqis. Up to
now there is no accord between Iraq and the United
States about a longer military presence."
Khalilzad said the chaos in Iraq since U.S.-led
forces overthrew Saddam Hussein in 2003 was not
unavoidable but arose from mistakes in the initial
period of occupation.
"Historians are discussing now whether we should
have sent more troops to Iraq to preserve law and
order, if it was right to dissolve the Iraqi army,
if we should have built an Iraqi government quicker,
if there should have been such a sweeping de-Baathification
program (removing Saddam-era officials)."
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