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IRAN: Resentment toward Kadafi, U.S. yields mixed reactions to Libya attacks

Iran protest bahrain As French, American and British forces launch a coordinated attack against the forces of embattled Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi, the staunchly anti-Western rulers of Iran angrily denounced any foreign intervention .. in Bahrain.

The Iranians, who have traditionally been the first to denounce American-led war efforts around the world, have been relatively cautious in their criticism of raids on Kadafi's military after Iranian leaders, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, strongly denounced Kadafi's crackdown against his own people.

"The past records of foreign military interventions by world powers have been rather suspicious," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency on Sunday, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Mehmanparast's comments were negative but tempered compared with recent Iranian statements on Bahrain, which have led to a diplomatic crisis between the two countries. On Sunday, Iran expelled a Bahraini diplomat in retaliation for the expulsion of its own charge d'affairs from Manama.

Official state television and radio seem unsure whether to endorse the strikes against Kadafi's military or condemn Western intervention amid apparent confusion about the U.S.' relationship to Libya. Friday's state-sponsored protest against U.S.-ally Bahrain for its crackdown against protesters featured a number of slogans and signs accusing Washington of supporting Kadafi as well.

Ahmad Bakhshayesh, a political analyst considered close to the government, said he was happy that Western forces had attacked "this crazy Kadafi."

"If Iran openly expressed happiness [about the airstrikes] it would be regarded as intervention in Libyan affairs," he told Babylon & Beyond. "However, I am sure that the Islamic groups will finally prevail in the post-Kadafi era after toppling his regime."

Reformist lawmaker Mohammad Reza Tabesh was less enthusiastic.

"The officials in Iran have condemned the crackdown of Libyan people, but regarding the West's attack on Kadafi's regime, Iranian officials, including me, consider it foreign interference in the  domestic affairs of Libya," Tabesh said.

"I wish Kadafi was as wise as [ousted Tunisian President Zine el Abidine] ben Ali and [ousted Egypt President Hosni] Mubarak and left power before the West attacked," he continued. "Iranians have bad memories of Western intervention in regional countries, and that is why we do not support Western interference in Libya."

-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: A protester at an anti-Bahrain, anti-U.S. protest in Tehran on Friday. Credit: Vahid Salemi/Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (3)

Outgoing secretary general of the Arab League Amr Moussa’s outrage at the West’s casual lobbing of revamped versions of Hitler’s V1 into Libya is a turning point. The UN Security Council’s resolution was designed to save civilian lives - an inherently defensive concept – and our full-scale assault on Libya's army crossed its political limits. French jets shot up government troops preparing to quell the Benghazi rebellion but who will be shot up if Tripoli’s citizens defend themselves against an avenging rebel force? Already no-one wants to own this mess with the US hiding behind the Anglo-French whose own Arab League/UN cover grows more threadbare by the hour.

The relevance of alanmirs's comments to the content of the article is extremely attenuated. However, his comments have two glaring factual errors:

(1) There was no Soviet influence in 1902 because the Soviet Union didn't exist. The Russian revolution took place in 1917, and the Soviet Union was established in its wake. In 1902 Russia was ruled by Tsar Nicholas II.

(2) As for the alleged war, the Anglo-Persian War lasted from November 1, 1856 to April 4, 1857, and was fought because the Persians (internationally, Iran was known as "Persia" until 1935) attempted to seize the City of Herat from Afghanistan. Admittedly, the British went into southern Iran in 1941 to ensure a steady oil supply to the allies during the World War II, but they left after the war.

In 1888, Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, the British Plenipotentiary Minister to Tehran, presented a War Office map to the Iranian King Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, in which the islands were presented as Iranian territory.

In his 1892 book Persia and the Persian Question, George Nathaniel Curzon, the Viceroy and Governor-General of India recognized the islands as belonging to Iran, but a decade later in 1902 the British occupied the islands as a buffer against the growing Soviet influence in Southern Iran.

Being afraid of the growing Soviet influence in the Southern regions of Iran, the British forces occupied three Iranian islands, named Abu Mousa, Lesser Tunb and Greater Tunb in the year 1902.

Iran and Britain fought over the islands for decades until 1968, when the Britons pulled their troops out from the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf as a reconciliatory stance.

Then, in 1971, as the colonial protectorate of Ras al-Khaimeh and Sharjah, Iran signed an agreement with Sharjah with the arbitration of British government to take responsibility for the islands’ security while recognizing the sovereignty of Bahrain and the UAE


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