Ali Akbar Salehi: We have been aiding the Libyan revolutionaries

Ali-Akbar Salehi, Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs

Ali-Akbar Salehi, Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs

Source: Jam-e Jam , Date: 28 August 2011

In an interview with Jam-e Jam newspaper on 28 August 2011 Ali-Akbar Salehi, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s (IRI) Minister of Foreign Affairs, revealed for the first time that Iran has been supporting the “revolutionaries” in Libya. According to Salehi:

“Prior to the fall of Gaddafi we were in contact with many of the rebels in Libya and discretely sent more than three or four shipments of food and medicine to Benghazi. As a result of Iran’s aid and support, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Chairman of the Transitional National Council (TNC), issued a letter of appreciation to the president [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] prior to the fall of Gaddafi.”

Jam-e Jam paraphrased Salehi as saying that Iran should not be expected to openly discuss its policies, plans and diplomatic efforts toward Libya at this time. Salehi insisted that:

“We must reach the appropriate time before making open declarations.”

Salehi then went on to criticize Western governments for what he considered to be their “hasty” and “paradoxical” positions toward Libya, stating that:

“We could take such [paradoxical] positions, perhaps it would even gain media attention, but it would be little more than a mere show… Perhaps some [audiences] will forget these paradoxes, but such positions will be recorded in the memory of the media and shall remain there in full view, forever.”

Conceivably Salehi’s most interesting comments were regarding the IRI’s approach to the Arab Spring:

“I can assure you that perhaps never before has the regime approached any subject with the degree of unity and seriousness as we have these events [the Arab Spring] and put so much time and energy into holding meetings over them. The result of these consultations and discussion among the leaders of the regime were the creation of the framework that the foreign ministry is currently working within. A time will come when we will be able to discuss these matters with greater ease.”

Editor’s note: As discussed in our analysis on the 28 August 2011 [1], Iran will be certain to draw on the divisions within the TNC and rebel fighters in order to influence the outcome of events in Libya. Not only is Iran concerned about the West taking Libya as a strategic source of oil, it’s also rattled by NATO’s potential of setting a successful precedent of humanitarian military intervention, which could be repeated elsewhere. It thus appears that in Libya, as elsewhere in the Arab Spring, Iran has been working around the clock to create an adequate response that promotes it’s interests. If Iran has been in contact with Libyan rebels for some time, then we should not be surprised by the emergence of an Iranian-allied group in Libya which will make the work of NATO and the West more difficult.

Jam-e Jam has promised to publish a second part to the Salehi interview soon and you can be sure that we’ll be one of the first to bring it to you.