[ Wednesday, March 23, 2005 ]
Libyan leader defends Syria’s role in Lebanon
23 March 2005
ALGIERS - Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi defended Syria’s role in Lebanon at a meeting of Arab leaders on Wednesday, saying in a long off-the-cuff speech that often drew laughs from the leaders that Damascus should be thanked for what he called its sacrifices in Lebanon.
“Syria should be rewarded because it sacrificed for the sake of civil peace in Lebanon,” Gadhafi said at the annual summit of the 22-member Arab League.
He warned in a speech immediately following UN chief Kofi Annan’s remarks favorable of the withdrawal ordered by the Security Council that Lebanon’s security situation may worsen after the pullout.
Gadhafi, whose flamboyant style and blunt remarks at past summits often have irritated fellow Arab leaders, drew laughs when he said both Israelis and Palestinians were “stupid” the Israelis because they neglected the West Bank for 20 years and the Palestinians because failed to establish a state there.
The Libyan leader also criticized the international pressure on Syria to pull back its troops from its smaller neighbour. “Is Syria the only country in the world with an army outside its own?” he asked, in a clear reference to American and US-allied forces in Iraq.
“Is 1559 the only sacred resolution in the United Nations?” he asked, wondering aloud why only UN resolutions against the Arabs were binding, saying those regarding Israel were not.
art [7:21 AM]