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Life for average Iraqi worse than under Saddam Hussein regime: Annan.

NEW YORK, Dec. 4 Kyodo

The situation in Iraq has become ''much worse'' than a civil war, and life for the average Iraqi was now worse than under the regime of Saddam Hussein, the outgoing U.N. secretary general has told the BBC.

Kofi Annan leaves office after 10 years on Dec. 31.

Expressing his sadness for being unable to prevent the war, he urged regional and international powers to help Iraq.

But Annan urged his successor, South Korean Ban Ki Moon, to ''do it his way.''

Asked in an interview whether the situation in Iraq could now be classified as a civil war, Annan pointed to the level of ''killing and bitterness'' and the way forces in Iraq are now ranged against each other.

''A few years ago, when we had the strife in Lebanon and other places, we called that a civil war. This is much worse.

''We have a very worrisome situation in the broader Middle East,'' Annan was quoted as saying, linking the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Lebanon with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and tensions over Iran.

He admitted that the failure to prevent the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a major blow to the United Nations, one from which the organization is only beginning to recover.

Annan described the current situation in Iraq as ''extremely dangerous'' and empathized with the plight of ordinary Iraqis.

''If I were an average Iraqi obviously I would make the same comparison, that they had a dictator who was brutal but they had their streets, they could go out, their kids could go to school and come back home without a mother or father worrying, 'Am I going to see my child again?'

''The society needs security and a secure environment for it to get on -- without security not much can be done -- not recovery or reconstruction.''

The remarks by Annan may invite criticism from the administration of George W. Bush which considers the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime an end to his tyranny while conducting a review of its policy vis-a-vis Iraq following the opposition Democratic Party's win in the midterm elections in November.

Annan, a Ghanaian who joined the United Nations in 1962, became the first sub-Sahara African secretary general at the start of 1997.

And he was clear in his advice to Ban, the South Korean diplomat who will pick up the reins at the United Nations' New York headquarters on Jan. 1.

''He should do it his way. I did it my way, my predecessors did it their way and he should do it his way.''
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Dec 11, 2006
Words:435
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