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Iraq's Former PM Warns Further Tensions Could Break Up the Country

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi cautioned on Sunday that further escalation of tensions among different groups may lead Iraq to irreversible breakup.

In an interview with the Arabic news website, Ilaf, the secular Shiite politician said that serious disputes remain across sectarian lines in Iraq with most conflicting parties leading their own armed forces.

"Everybody has a militia nowadays and see themselves as right and regard others as wrong," said Allawi who heads the Iraqi National Accord with 21 seats in the parliament.

"This means that there is no Iraqi state, but only a (central) power. And if we do not pass this crisis, Iraq will in the future face catastrophe and partition," he added.

Allwai's concern comes as new sectarian militia bands are being set up and funded by regional powers that lead a proxy war in Iraq.

With Iran and Saudi Arabia financially supporting opposing militia groups in the country, also recently Turkey has been openly funding Sunni units in north of Iraq, which it says are trained against ISIS militants in Mosul.

Allawi said if the conditions remain "as grave as they currently are", the different components of the country will inevitably choose their own path.

"If the partition takes place- God forbid- on sectarian and religious bases, we will all face a prolonged war. And if it is on an ethnic base, then we will face a lengthy conflict with the Kurdistan region," Allawi warned.

Allawi who has long been seen as an ally of the Kurds in Baghdad said he did not oppose Kurdish self-determination but questioned the "timing and the geography" of the possible Kurdish state.

He also warned that the Shiite stronghold port of Basra in south Iraq, which holds the country's largest oil reserves, could be "a time bomb" that would soon demand secession.

The Electoral Commission in Iraq announced its initial approval in August of a petition signed by hundreds of thousands of residents in Basra, 550 km south of Baghdad, to hold a referendum and make the province an autonomous region, similar to the Kurdistan region.

"Iraq is on the edge of fire and what is important for us is to prevent its fall into it. Because if that happens no one- not Kurds, nor Sunnis, or Shiites or Christians- will ever survive it," he added.

Allawi also said according to the constitution Iraq is a federal and democratic country but the charter does not say, "this region is for the Kurds and that is for the Shiites and this is for the Sunnis."

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