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#5 - JRL 7026
Middle East Online
January 20, 2003
Primakov: Iraq war to lead world to more divisions

Former Russian PM says US war on Iraq could divide world on basis of religion, civilizations.   JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - A US war against Iraq could divide the international community on the basis of religion and lead to internal rifts in many states, former Russian prime minister Yevgeny Primakov warned Monday.

"A US war on Iraq will lead the world towards more divisions. It risks dividing the world on the basis of religion and civilizations," Primakov told the Jeddah Economic Forum in this Red Sea city of western Saudi Arabia.

"This is one of the most serious problems facing the world ... It could divide the world into Muslims and non-Muslims and lead to dividing countries like Russia where 20 million Muslims live," he said in a keynote speech.

"Many countries could break up from within. This is very serious ... Both Europe and the United states have large Muslim communities," said Primakov, who is president of Russia's chambers of commerce and industry.

Primakov said the world community must work to preserve and protect all civilizations and religions in an environment of peaceful coexistence.

He also warned Washington it would not secure the same support it had obtained in its campaign in Afghanistan.

"Such support will diminish if the United States attacked Iraq. This will also weaken the US-led war on terrorism," which began after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, he said.

Countries neighboring Iraq are opposed to any strikes on Baghdad because they are "unwilling to see revolutionary changes and risk their stability," Primakov said.

The former Russian premier also warned the United States not to ignore the reaction of Arab masses if Iraq was attacked.

Primakov criticised Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for rejecting an international "roadmap" for peace with the Palestinians, and called on the world community to force Israel to accept an independent Palestinian state.

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