Describing Iraq as one of the most violent conflict areas in the world, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned that there is a "grave danger" of breakdown of the Iraqi State and "potentiality" of civil war.
In a new report released on Monday, Annan expresses concern over government figures that violence is claiming 100 lives every day and wounding more than 14,000 people each month.
"If civil war breaks out, it would detrimental to the interests of not only Iraq but countries in region and the international community," he stresses.
Iraqi society today, he says, stands at a critical juncture and important crossroads.
If the Iraqis and their leaders are able to build firm foundations for the common interest of all Iraqis, the promise of peace and prosperity will be within reach.
"However, if current patterns of discord and violence prevail for much longer, there is a grave danger of a breakdown of the Iraqi State," he writes.
Faced with growing violence and insecurity, Annan says the Iraqi Government has focused its political efforts on promoting national reconciliation and dialogue. While noting this "significant achievement" in the political transition process, he points out "there can ultimately be no military solutions to the many challenges" the country faces.
Acknowledging the "heavy burden" of leadership, in particular the growing threat of militia activities, Annan urges the Government to do "everything possible to progressively foster an environment conducive to the demobilization, disarming and reintegration" of these (militia) forces.