Kofi Annan has told the BBC that the Iraq war was illegal and warned that January's elections are at threat from ongoing violence.
The UN Secretary-General said the decision to take action in Iraq should have been made by the Security Council, not unilaterally.
Earlier, the head of the British Army, General Sir Mike Jackson claimed national elections in Iraq were still on track for January, despite violence which killed dozens on Tuesday.
Is the situation in Iraq out of control? Do you agree with Kofi Annan's comments? What can be done to end the violence? How can the insurgency be curbed and will January's elections go ahead?
This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.
Today Iraq has an illegitimate government put in power in an illegitimate way to protect illegitimate interests of the country. The only solution resides precisely in the word "legitimacy" that, so far, have been absent in every possible way. In January, if and when the elections are supposed to take place we could have, at last, the first step towards a free and legitimate Iraq, but a question still remains: Will the USA permit the Iraqi people to make their own political way, regardless of the way that is going to be chosen? Unfortunately it doesn't seem that we have reasons to be optimistic about the coming situation in Iraq.
André Luis Salemi de Andrade, Brazil
The question is flawed. There is no international court with competence to try a soveriegn state, so why do people insist on talking about international law? It is a fallacy, created, in my opinion, to mollify the weaker states. The "legitimacy" or otherwise of the war in Iraq is just a matter of bar room opinion, not a matter of legal opinion.
Gareth, London, England
Legal-schmegle. Who cares? The real question is whether the war was ethical or not. I personally don't think it was. However, I must say that Annan coming up with his comments so long after the invasion is pretty pathetic. Both he and the UN should have spoken up at the time, not later. Are they going to wait another year and a half to have an opinion on Darfur?
Bennett, Los Angeles, CA
Iraq is a burning wreck and by putting a proxy puppet PM with no democratic legitimacy in charge is a slap in the face of Iraqis hoping for democracy. This is an ideological conflict resulting from the US obsession to assimilate Iraq into an image of itself. The US have failed miserably just like their colonial New Iraqi flag!
Vajid Ali, Birmingham
It is so late to say the war was illegal. Anyway it's a good sign that by his voice many people will understand the reason behind the war, and that is only Mr. Bush
Taufiqul Arif, Seoul, Korea
The war was based on a series of official lies. How can it possibly be legal? That this question is even asked shows how screwed up certain western governments are. We live in a world where so called democracies are in fact the ruthless invaders.
Ron Kita, USA
In January, there will be an election in Iraq! Terrorists, theocrats and other forces of evil will do anything they can to stop the democratic process, preventing Iraqis from going to election boots and vote for the future of their country. UN as usual is an irrelevant institution, always failing to act. The price of freedom is not cheap. However, Iraqis know that they will benefit from democracy, and that no one has more to lose than terrorists if democracy become a reality in Iraq.
Kevin, SF, USA
I believe it was almost certainly illegal (for what it's worth at this late stage). I find it hard to believe the UK govt. proclaiming the war legal 'based on the advice they were given', the same advice that they have subsequently refused to release into the public domain. How quaint!
Had the UN stepped up to the plate and enforced the 14 resolutions against Iraq, we wouldn't now be in this position. More empty words from a hollow organization.
I thought that the imposition of one's will on others is called "dictatorship". If so, then how can we define imposition of our will on Iraqis' as anything but a contradiction of everything we claim. Some in this forum claim that at least, the coalition is not killing as many Iraqis as Saddam did...May I ask who authorised these "humanitarians" to kill any Iraqi. If killing by Saddam was unacceptable then killing by the non-Iraqis is not to be tolerated. We cannot remove a thug and claim that the new thug is worthy of praise.
Wyne, Washington, DC
No country, not even a "coalition of the willing" can install democracy at gunpoint. Time and again this approach has failed. What is democracy really worth if it allows one nation to occupy another and force ideological change upon them?
Iain Kemp, New York, NY
It's past time for Kofi Annan to step down. The corruption and inaction to crisis of the UN under his watch should be proof to all of his deficient leadership.
At this point, such a judgment is far too little too late. Even if such a war was illegal, what act of censure against the US and the UK is the UN capable of? The Security Council would not, because it could not, pass a resolution to censure either nation.
Andrew Fenton, Halifax, Canada
Invasion of another country on the basis of false pretences is not only illegal, it is a war crime. The acknowledgment of "intelligence failure" is admission of illegality. Were it not for the imbalance of power as between the US/UK on one side and the UN, as a whole, on the other, the leaders of the US/UK would, right now, be sharing a prison with Slobodan Milosevic awaiting trial for war crimes. The interests of justice require that outcome.
J Plotinus, Ridgefield, CT, USA
The war was started with a pack of lies and is both immoral and illegal. Look at the situation now and before and ask, is Iraq better or worse? I think unquestionably worse. The situation there continues to deteriorate and probably will result in civil war. How many more innocent lives will be lost?
Doug W., Chicago, IL USA
What is unbelievable is that the UN comes up with this statement one year and a half AFTER the invasion. This statement should have been made at day one of the invasion.
It's probable that fewer people are dying in Iraq right now than were put to death annually under Saddam. That, and the idea that Iraq could have been left as was, is entirely illusory and morally malformed.
Dave, Leicester, UK
Does it matter now? We have lost lives because of the war, and we are still debating whether the war is legal or illegal.
MS Abdullah, York, North Yorkshire
How narrow-minded to suggest it's Bush and Blair's fault. Rightly said that the UN was slow to react, and for the right or wrong excuses, this takeover had to happen. The issue in Iraq is one of (mis)education of the masses. Insurgency would be rifer without allied troops aiding.... We did the right thing to get rid of Saddam, now we need to stay strong and prevent a civil war. That was always going to be the case. Shame other allies didn't want to help.
Kofi Annan is far more believable than either Bush or Blair, who are after all mere politicians. Mr Annan is a true leader and gentleman who can be relied upon and trusted, as he has no axe to burn. He merely wants the truth to come out, something which is sadly lacking in Bush and Blair.
Bob Beadman, Hong Kong
The amazing thing is that Bush and Blair still reign supreme. We live in a very sad world and hopeless for those that seek justice.
Raymond Rudaizky, London UK
I wonder if our country was overrun by foreign troops, how long would we stand for it? Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is in the pocket of the Bush government so he cannot be trusted either. So pull the troops out and let the real Iraqi people take control of their own country.
Clive, Dartford, UK
Kofi Annan has a cheek and this statement will only fuel more hate. I suppose the UN corruption with Iraq was legal? The UN has too often sat back and allowed numerous human disasters to take place. It is just a talking shop with no action, and no-one in real charge. Blame America and the UK, but who are the first two countries to send help when needed?
Tom, Stirling, Scotland
Not being a lawyer I can't say whether the invasion and occupation of Iraq was illegal or not, but it was, without doubt, immoral. Both the UK and USA governments lied to their electorate regarding the putative WMDs. Both the UK and USA have carried out acts that if they had been implemented by certain other governments would have resulted in cries of "war crimes"" and "terrorism". Our governments actions have shamed us all.
Ker Ebus, London
Yes of course, no country that is under the "control" as it were of another could ever be truly peaceful. This was all started with bloodshed and war, and whatever the arguments for and against the invasion, there can certainly be no doubts as to the present and near future existence for the people of Iraq, unless someone comes along to negotiate a suitable peace. In this sense I am talking about a peace that is in line with the wants and needs of the Iraqi people, and not of the US. Unfortunately with George W Bush all but set to reclaim his position as commander in chief over the US army there is very little chance of subtle negotiation and an ever increasing risk of further wars.
Matthew Hall, Surrey
Kofi Annan's opinions regarding the alleged illegality of the Iraq War is just self-aggrandising nonsense. The Iraq war was legal under the UN Security Council resolution authorising the 1991 Gulf War. Saddam Hussein's refusal to comply with the terms of the resolution suspending that war made any further resolution unnecessary. Such an irresponsible statement by a UN Secretary General, timed to interfere with an American presidential election, only serves to accelerate the UN's descent into irrelevance
Chris, San Francisco, USA
I think it is too early to have elections in Iraq. There is no security at the moment and many people see the government as imposed on them. Let us give them time to solve their problems first.
Boniface Kisi, Arusha,Tanzania
I think as soon as the Americans leave, the violence will come to a halt and Iraq can really start rebuilding. I hope Bush will now realise that your actions do have consequences. I absolutely agree with Kofi Annan, the US should never have started this war.
Christopher Witbooi, Cape Town, South Africa
Why would a UN sanctioned invasion be any more legitimate than a multinational allied invasion? The UN seems to have a habit of overseeing massive human disasters while its members dither around. Afghanistan is still suffering violence. Why would Iraq have been any different?
Michael Hughes, Perth, Australia
There appears no choice at this stage but to go ahead with the January elections since the US and other coalition forces cannot stay there forever. The violence will continue as long as there are groups within or without the country who feel suspicious and dissatisfied with what they deem as a US implanted system in the country. Ordinary Iraqis certainly want a return to normalcy and start rebuilding their lives after the devastation and disruption brought by this war. To curb the insurgency seems an impossibility especially when it necessarily involves foreign forces in Iraq. Unless the ruling government of Iraq can form and consolidate a national armed force to combat the insurgency, it will take years if not forever to get things under control.
Angeline Shannan, Penang, Malaysia
Elections are fine as long as anyone who wants to can stand for election, and whatever the outcome the coalition countries accept the result and abide by the new government's decisions. Anything else but this will invalidate the results.
Iraq is definitely ready for elections. Even if there is violence in the middle of them and not all the votes go in, the Iraqis will have to count as best they can and move on. This is the practical thing to do, despite the need for fairness. The new government will still be legitimate. The terrorists will be forgotten, the U.S. will leave, and everyone will move on with their lives.
David, Santa Barbara, CA, USA
It seems likely to me that the interim Iraqi government will have completely lost control of their country long before January. I really don't see how the situation can be brought under control before then, unless the occupying forces are prepared to use the same kind of brutality as Saddam's regime did. The problem is that we left the country for too long without any apparent government, and allowed a power vacuum to exist.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK
Bush and the American people have not yet learned a simple fact known from the time of Caesar, that when you occupy someone else's country those people will shoot at you, and will continue to do so until you leave.
Bob Bogar, Abingdon, MD, USA
I support Iraq becoming a democracy, but believe that democracy must come from within not from the outside. Imposing democracy from the outside has never worked and never will. The US and Coalition troops should exit Iraq as quickly as possible and let the Iraqi people decide their future.
Miles Lunn, Vancouver, Canada
For the Iraqi people the priority is peace followed by jobs, food, shelter, health care, education and so on. Democracy is not the only road to peace and in Iraq the "stronger rules" create peace. That is the way Iraq knows.
During the invasion, before the US troops reached Baghdad, I stated that the fight for Iraq would turn into guerrilla war, which is the most effective kind of war that the "poor", without jets and missiles, can fight and win. To save some face, the "invited invaders" must negotiate with all the different Iraqi factions, create Iraqi development agencies, give them the means to develop social infrastructures and don't impose preferred suppliers.
Artur de Freitas
The real problem with the US plan in Iraq is the erroneous assumption that every nation wants or can sustain a democracy. President Bush's hope of removing a military dictatorship and simply replacing it with a government in our own image, (with corporate sponsorship, of course) is naïve at best.
Jonathan, San Francisco, USA
We should never have taken Iraq. The situation will in the long term make more terrorists with a deep hate to the West.
AN Jessen, Ladelund, Germany
Yes it is out of control, but who's control was it meant to be in anyway?
It is not Iraq out of Control, but certainly Mr George Bush is. I've also noticed Bush's mental war. He knows the truth and he knows the lie. He knows what the script tells him to say, but for whatever reason, he continuously blurts out truth mangled. Call it a mental war raging in his head. He simply has no control over his syntax. It seems he's conflicted. I've heard rumours of his mind being manipulated by others behind the scenes using mind control tactics. It's just interesting to ponder. That could help explain his slip-ups a little. I have no idea though. I'm continually confused by him as to what kind of President he is.
Arif Hamza, Dubai
Iraq was out of control under Saddam Hussein. Order is being restored. It's going to take awhile. Be patient.
Brian Clark Jr, New York City, USA
I don't believe Iraq or the Middle East in general, are ready for democracy. Maybe a few centuries down the road. We've led the horse to water... I'm beginning to doubt if he'll drink.
Sarah, Helena, Montana
My fellow Americans argue that we should look at the positives in the Iraq situation. Yes, here are a few, but very few indeed. On the other hand, one of the worst negatives is the darkening of the American soul affected by this foolish occupation. We cannot escape Iraq but substantially less human when we turn a blind eye to the thousands of civilian dead, the devastated infrastructure, the tales of torture, and the culture of blatant racism which so pervade our Iraq misadventure. That so few Americans recognize this fact only deepens the tragedy.
Brian Anthony, Kutztown, Pennsylvania, USA
A stupid war, begun by stupid men, for stupid motives.
William Satterwhite, Houston, TX
The longer the problems concerning unemployment, poor infrastructure and poverty continue the Iraqis will continue their offensive to rid their country of the coalition troops whom they see as contributing further to the dire situation with their continued occupation. The interim government appointed by the coalition troops is seen as another example of the hold that the US-led forces have on Iraq.
David Izatt, Kinross, Scotland
Does anyone seriously expect any form of real handover to occur? Opinion polls repeatedly show that the Iraqis want the US and UK out. Does anyone honestly believe Bush and Blair will let that happen? The US is building the world's largest embassy to control its new imperial territory and is building permanent military bases across Iraq. They intend staying whatever the Iraqis want. They haven't spent billions on this war to be denied their prize - control of the Iraqi oil and a springboard from which to launch further attacks on Iran, Syria and even Saudi when that inevitably falls to the fundamentalists.
Paul, London, UK
I don't think that Iraq is out of control I just think that people are taking advantage of a temporary power vacuum. A lot of countries have riots and terrorist attacks. Does that mean they are out of control?
Alexander Cowan, Gravesend, UK
Of course it is, what did you expect? When you remove a government, especially one that represses the people so much this is bound to happen. And now you have all the different groups fighting each other. Unfortunately to get the country back on track you need a strict government again. Not as harsh as the last one but you need to punish the people who are killing everyone else. There is no control there. The Americans are interested in the oil and not the people. They will protect the oil fields and the people will keep on killing each other.
Falluja in May and more recently Najaf have shown that when the true leaders in Iraq take charge, the emotions can calm down quickly. So, the coalition and UN should communicate the Iraqi population a clear exit strategy and start to implement it. Instead they have imposed a Vichy government of people that may have the confidence of the international community but not of the Iraqis. It is more than clear what kind of government a majority of Iraqis wish for and who will loose his face at the end of the day. So, sadly, any true step in resolving the issue has to wait until after November.
Martin, Madrid, Spain
Patriotism is a word which has being used a lot since September 11th. If the boot was on the other foot and Iraq had invaded, and was now occupying, America then the American patriots would be out there fighting an insurgency to get their country back. What the Americans don't seem to be able to understand is that this natural, laudable desire is exactly what they are on the receiving end of now. Iraq is out of control and will remain so until the multinational forces get out, but even then I don't think the ride will be smooth. Why didn't Bush and Blair listen to the overwhelming public opinion telling them not to go to war?
What is wrong with a United States of Iraq? Surely the situation would be more manageable in a case where a three-state federation was made, with Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish states - each with an appropriate peacekeeping force in the run-up to full Iraqi independence. But perhaps Turkish resistance to anything Kurdish is preventing this from even being considered, and civil war is being risked for a possibly utopian single-state Iraq.
Mick, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
What is so frustrating is the inability of the US and UK governments to learn from the history of intervention (or more accurately imperialism) by the French in Algeria, the US in Vietnam and the USSR in Afghanistan. The situation in Iraq is the grimly inevitable result of foreign invasion and occupation. The Iraqis didn't trust the US from the start and widely believed they were just there for the oil. The US has exacerbated the insurgency by its own incompetence, its wilful ignorance of Iraqi culture, its indiscriminate use of force and its systematic brutality in places such as Abu Ghraib. The US neo-cons should give up on their dreams of controlling Iraqi oil, pull the troops out and pay the Iraqi people generous reparations for the damage they have done.
John Cursons, Leeds
It took 25 years to get out of Vietnam. Iraq and Afghanistan will take as long.
Simon Magennis, Galway, Ireland
Iraq is out of control because of the presence of American troops in the country.
N Dessouki, Chelmsford, UK
I don't think the whole country is out of control, but surely parts of it are. I think that the best thing is always to finish what has been begun, so the US should regain control of Falluja and kill or arrest all the terrorists there. You can't allow whole towns to be controlled by terrorists, or you'll end up with a situation in which the terrorists control most of Iraq.
Andrea Baucero, Milano, Italy
It's out of control because of the American and British troops. Iraq's people don't want them and they don't believe that they are there to bring freedom. The only thing they are doing at the moment is killing the innocent people.
I do not think that these attacks are going to stop until the US and British Forces are taken out of Iraq. We should not have even gone there in the beginning.
Claire Cumberland, Worksop, England
The situation in Iraq is not out of control but there are areas that do need more control. I don't think the viewing audience has enough information to make a fair judgment of this topic. It would be helpful if the positive would be displayed in addition to the negative. From letters written by the military and clergy in Iraq, a far different picture emerges than the one often displayed by the media. Only the media can correct this and hopefully soon.
Iraq is out of control because Islamic extremists are using every tactic possible to force a religious war between Muslims who embrace the radical ideology and the rest of the world's people. Iraqi citizens are distrustful of American soldiers and offended by their presence yet fearful of brutal insurgents from Syria and Iran who kill and terrorize randomly. Thrown in to the recipe for disaster is the warlord feudal mentality of some of the local power-seeking clerics. What a mess!
Lee, New York, USA
According to another story on the BBC News site (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3652058.stm) only $700M has been spent on reconstruction this year. This must be less than the damage done during the war. So far, the allied force has done far more damage than it has mended. Is it any wonder that things are going badly?
Adam Hamilton, Edinburgh, Scotland
It is difficult to determine whether our opinion of Iraq is skewed by media or whether it really is as bad as it seems. What I do not understand is why there is an insurgency. If the Americans were not fighting they would be building wouldn't they? I always try to look at the costs and benefits, not purely in dollars, but I seek to learn the best course before embarking upon it. I cannot see any benefit in fighting the US in Iraq; they don't want to stay there or occupy it any longer then necessary, so let them build those schools, hospitals, reservoirs, and hospitals. The US has a lot of troops, bombs and bullets, the quickest way to get them out of there is to let them do what they came to do and go home.
Philip, Ottawa, Canada
The "I told you so" camp do have a legitimate point, however there needs to be a gathering of minds on this one, rather than the separatist "I'm on the anti-war side" and "I'm for it" approach we're seeing. Yes, I believe the Bush coalition of the willing was wrong to approach the whole thing in this way but we are where we are and something needs to be done about it before the anger and resentment towards the West results in even more violence (begetting even more of course).
I think this is the time for the United Nations to show the strength they are being criticized for not having and establish themselves as the real voice of the nations - officially condemn the US led attack, get the US out and a large multinational force in with the clearly stated goal of ensuring legitimate elections are held ASAP. (The obvious upshot of a largely unstable Iraq right now is that the US coalition will no doubt limit voting to the stable areas, rendering the vote illegitimate).
If the goal of the UN's Troops is understood and no country withholds support (other than perhaps the US...) then the insurgents will have little popular backing, right now it looks like Iraq is the perfect breeding ground for terrorists of the future, let's actually do something about it before we see a broadening of that trend. (Getting Israel to help might be a bit tricky though, but that's a whole bigger story that needs tackling urgently too...)
Is Iraq out of control? We can also ask: Is Iraq now better than Iraq during Saddam?.. Is life safer now?.. Are the Iraqi people happier now?.. And one last question: Are the Iraqi children less human than the other children in the world? It is really sad and nobody cares.
Fadia Lotfi, Cairo, Egypt
Many of us here in the US saw the Bush administration's desire to go to Iraq as a disaster. Unfortunately, this has become the case. I, as an American, don't care one bit about Iraq, and think we should leave. My tax dollars are needed here, not halfway across the world.
Casey Raskob, Croton on Hudson, NY, USA
How sad that the world looked away as Saddam committed mass murder and the world again looks away while the people of Iraq struggle to establish their stake on freedom. Those who condemn us need to look inside their souls.
I can't see the insurgency stopping or even slowing down until the coalition stops using such strong arm tactics. You cannot fire 500pound bombs into densely populated civilian areas. Yes it's somewhat safer than sending in troops/police but in the long run these tactics will just pour fuel on the fire of this insurgency making it that much stronger. Of course in the current climate elections can't be held, how can you hold elections when the government can't even control key towns or even certain districts of the capital?
Rob, Brighton, UK
As US indiscriminate bombing creates heavy civilian casualties, this war is out of control and the US will never win this war.
Siva, Toronto, Canada
I think the Iraqi citizens need to do more to chase the insurgents out of the country. Make it known that terrorists are not welcome there and do whatever it takes to get rid of them.
Laurie, Connecticut, USA
As long as there are foreign troops in Iraq, Iraq will always be out of control, they have made their feelings clear that they don't want our troops there. I was never in favour of this war anyway, we should concentrate on our country's problems first before we try and solve others.
Craig, Nottingham, England
Iraq does now seem to be totally out of control, but I don't think anyone has a clue as to what the answer is. We must try to get into the mindset of the insurgents to try and understand what it is they are trying to achieve. This might not be a popular option, but what else can be done? Without understanding, nothing can be achieved. The world powers must come together to assist with this effort.
It is very much likely that the whole of Iraq is now jumping from the frying pot to the fire. Iraqis have the full right to show their anger to the US Forces as well as the Interim government, because of their promises that they will be capable of crushing any militant that dare try to destabilise Iraq.
Chernor Jalloh, Almeria, Spain
The violence may end when the population of Iraq views the Iraqi administration as legitimate, and the insurgents as illegitimate. Such a view will likely only come about if Iraqis elect their own government in January. However, even with a democratically elected government, I fear that opportunists like al-Sadr will attempt to violently impose their will on a nation that has suffered so much already.
Marko, Kingston, Canada
Of course it is. It's dismaying to say "I told you so", but this is exactly why millions took to the streets before the war. The US admits it is losing control of many areas. Rockets are being fired at crowds, militias are forming, the supporters of the US and its puppet interim government are being slaughtered in their hundreds. There are tens of thousands of Iraqis dead, hundreds of Americans dead and it's getting worse. How could our governments be so stupid to let this happen? An ill-considered invasion to oust a foolishly backed dictator has turned Iraq into Disneyland for terrorists. Those who opposed the war aren't being smug, but it infuriates when no-one seems to even want to learn the lesson of this disaster
Matt, Amsterdam, Netherlands (ex UK)
"Violence generates violence" a message I send to those who are killing randomly. There should be another way to provide security to Iraqi people but the question is if there is anyone who wants to?!
Iraq is not unmanageable. The problem in Iraq to me seems to be Syria and Iran. as long as Syria and Iran allow a steady stream of militants into Iraq armoured with deep hatred for America and the West, the situation will not improve. Syria and Iran need to be taught a lesson!
It could be one of the worst mistakes in history. Bush should apologize to the world and get out.
Juan Vidal, San Juan, Puerto Rico