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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 March 2006, 12:35 GMT
Unrest in Iraq
On Sunday 19 March 2006 Andrew Marr interviewed Dr Iyad Allawi, former Prime Minister of Iraq

Please note "BBC Sunday AM" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Dr Iyad Allawi
Dr Iyad Allawi, former Prime Minister of Iraq

ANDREW MARR: Tomorrow is the third anniversary of the American-led invasion of Iraq. It took only a few weeks for coalition forces to sweep through the country, topple Saddam and dismantle his entire regime.

Three years on, the country has no government, huge problems with its infrastructure and is deeply riven by sectarian violence.

The Defence Secretary, John Reid, visiting Baghdad yesterday said that civil war was neither inevitable nor imminent but the man who was prime minister of Iraq for several months after Saddam was overthrown tells me that he believes a civil war is already happening.

Here is what Dr Iyad Allawi had to say when I spoke to him a little earlier.

DR IYAD ALLAWI: Well it's unfortunate that we are in a civil war, we are losing a 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. And I think Iraq is facing, is in the middle of a crisis.

Maybe we have not reached the point of no return yet, but we are moving towards this point and we should avert the path of the country and avert getting there and get the country on the road to recovery. This has become a, this is becoming very important really. We are in a very, in a terrible civil conflict now in Iraq.

ANDREW MARR: And as a secular leader yourself if you do pass that point of no return, do you see Iraq potentially falling apart as a country?

DR IYAD ALLAWI: It will not only fall apart but sectarianism will spread throughout the region and even Europe, the United States, would not be spared all the violence that may occur as a result of sectarian problems in this region, let alone the influx of refugees which is already taking place out of Iraq into neighbouring countries. We are witnessing an exodus of Iraqis to Jordan and to Syria and to Lebanon and to Turkey and Iran, and so on. So we need to do our best really to avert and to prevent a catastrophe from happening and indeed we should not underplay the current situation, we should face it with courage, with determination that this country could restore its unity and could move along the line of peace and progress.

ANDREW MARR: Did you, in your worst dreams, ever imagine that things could get this bad?

DR IYAD ALLAWI: Well in fact we, I personally warned a lot against creating a vacuum in Iraq and I was very vocal, condemning the dismantlement of the military, I was vocal in condemning the de-Baathification programmes which went in a haphazard way. I warned against the prevalence and prevailing of militias and them taking the law into their hands. Unfortunately this has been happening, especially in the last year, and this is were we are today.

ANDREW MARR: In terms of the civil breakdown, the civil war, we're very close - as you say - you're very close to passing the moment of no return. How close are you, do you think, to some kind of political deal that might rescue things at the last minute?

DR IYAD ALLAWI: Well we are, we are edging towards this, we are closing ranks and it's good that people are recognising the dangers and I think we hope that we are getting the meetings on a daily basis, we hope that we are getting nearer to a solution, to find the common ground. I think and hope that we will achieve this in the next few weeks and will go on to form the government. But let me say also that the formation of the government is not going to be the immediate solution for the problems.

The ingredients of the conflict are still here. We need to work very hard to resolve these problems and prepare the way to a much brighter future. The formation of the national unity government is only one step towards achieving this goal. It's not the solution itself, it's the means. The national unity government is the means to achieve this goal of getting Iraq healthier and back on its feet. This is something that the international community should understand and should know.

ANDREW MARR: May I just say thank you very much for joining us and we all wish you good luck. Thank you.


NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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