The Middle East and Islamic civilization are so unstable now they could draw the world's nations into another global war, the US ambassador to the United Nations was quoted as saying Monday in an Austrian newspaper. Zalmay Khalilzad told the daily Die Presse that "The (Middle East) is going through a very difficult transformation phase. "That has strengthened extremism and creates a breeding ground for terrorism," he said, according to a Reuters translation from the German. "Europe was just as dysfunctional for a while. And some of its wars became world wars. Now the problems of the Middle East and Islamic civilization have the same potential to engulf the world," he was quoted as saying. He referred to the Islamic world as a slow starter. "They started late. They don't have a consensus on their concept. Some believe they should return to the time (6th-7th century) of the Prophet Muhammad," he said. "It may take decades before some understand that they can remain Muslims and simultaneously join the modern world." Regarding Iraq, Khalilzad was quite pessimistic. "Iraq will not be in a position to stand on its own feet for a longer period," he declared.