Iran secretly aided Libyan rebels

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi

Iran has been secretly helping the Libyan rebels in the fight against Gaddafi in and around Tripoli.

Iran “discreetly” provided humanitarian aid to Libyan rebels before the fall of Tripoli, Jam-e-Jam newspaper quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Sunday as saying.

“We were in touch with many of the rebel groups in Libya before the fall of (Moamer) Kadhafi, and discreetly dispatched three or four food and medical consignments to Benghazi,” Salehi told the daily.

“The head of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, sent a letter of thanks to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for having been on their side and helping,” he added.

Since the Libyan uprising erupted in mid-February, Iran has adopted a dual approach — criticising the Kadhafi regime for its violent assaults on the rebels while at the same time condemning NATO’s military intervention.

On Tuesday, Iran “congratulated the Muslim people of Libya” after rebels overran the capital Tripoli, but it has so far distanced itself from officially recognising the NTC.

This is not at all surprising to people who know the politics of the Middle East. Iran and Gadaffi have been at odds with each other for a long time. Gadaffi had blamed numerous uprisings in Libya on Iran. It would be just as unsurprising to learn that the Iranians had been discreetly helping Gaddafi, too. They’re probably playing both sides so they can gain a foothold no matter who wins.

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