Iran: West trapped in Libya impasse

Aug. 9, 2011 at 6:07 AM
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TEHRAN, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The West has reached an impasse with its military intervention in Libya, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi says.

Salehi, speaking during a news conference Saturday with Beninese Minister of Foreign Affairs Nassirou Arifari Bako, said NATO countries seeking the ouster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi have become bogged down in the face of his regime's continuing strong resistance.

"The West has reached an impasse in Libya and has completely destroyed the country and acted against the U.N. Security Council," Salehi said in a report by the official Mehr news agency.

He added that the loss of life in Libya from NATO airstrikes has been significant -- including the deaths of women and children.

"Now they (the Westerners) have come to the conclusion that they have been following a wrong path regarding Libya," Salehi added.

He said that while Iran supports "the realization of the legitimate demands of popular movements -- demands that can be made in Syria, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen or anywhere else," it draws the line at military intervention.

"If in some place, foreigners should want to intervene in a country and exploit the situation that has arisen, we are completely opposed to this," he said. "This meddling can be in any country including Syria or Libya where (foreigners) may want to use it toward their evil desires or purposes."

Libyan rebels over the weekend launched a new assault in which they are aiming to push toward Tripoli with an attack on the major coastal town of Al Khums, east of the capital, the Financial Times reported.

They have been unable to break a deadlock with Gadhafi's security forces despite the aid of British and French military helicopters. At the same time, the rebels are being hamstrung by deepening rifts in their de facto capital of Benghazi, the newspaper said.

Salehi in July proposed a Libya resolution, agreed to by Algeria and others, in which "a new political structure" would be put in place that would include "existing elements" of the current Libyan regime, the Fars News Agency reported.

The opposition National Transitional Council, meanwhile, was recognized by the United States last month as the legitimate authority of the country, even as Gadhafi has vowed to battle to the end.

"They are asking me to leave. That's a laugh. I will never leave the land of my ancestors or the people who have sacrificed themselves for me," Gadhafi said in an audio address to his supporters last month.

The Iranian foreign minister's comments came only a day after Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said the West is planning a military campaign against Syria with the aim of preparing a beachhead for an attack on Iran.

Rogozin told the Izvestia newspaper Friday after the Security Council condemned the ongoing violence in Syria that NATO has an overarching goal of eliminating regimes "whose views do not coincide with those of the West" with an ultimate aim of encircling Iran.

"(The U.N. condemnation) means that the planning (of a military campaign to overthrow President Bashar Assad) is well underway," Rogozin said, calling to the "logical conclusion" to military actions in North Africa.

"The noose around Iran is tightening," he added. "Military planning against Iran is underway. And we are certainly concerned about an escalation of a large-scale war in this huge region."

Rogozin said Russia has learned lessons about the West's intentions from Libya and thus will "continue to oppose a forcible resolution of the situation in Syria."

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