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

March 20, 2011 | 12:13 pm

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