CAIRO (Reuters) - The Libya crisis is an internal Arab affair and foreign powers should refrain from any intervention, Iraq’s foreign minister said at meeting of the Arab League, which has suspended Muammar Gaddafi’s government.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, in opening remarks to an Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Wednesday, said the Libyan leadership must make brave decisions to stop violence and respect the “legitimate rights” of the people.
The Cairo-based Arab League has suspended Libya’s participation in condemnation of a violent crackdown by Gaddafi forces against protests that have grown into a rebellion against his rule.
Zebari called on the ministers to stand in silence in memory of Arabs killed in a wave of pro-reform protests that have swept the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia from power and are challenging the rule of others in Bahrain and Yemen, as well as Libya.
“We hope the Libyan people can overcome these difficult conditions, and that the Libyan leaders take brave stands to stop bloodshed and respect the legitimate desires and rights of its people to live in a free, democratic nation,” Zebari said.
He said the Arabs confirmed their “desire for no foreign intervention” in Libya, whose seat stood empty at the Cairo meeting.
A draft resolution drawn up by Arab League representatives on Tuesday stated the Arabs’ rejection of “any foreign military intervention in Libya” and stressed “the unity and integrity of Libyan soil.”
The foreign minister of Oman, one of the states where protesters have been challenging their rulers, said Wednesday’s meeting was the first of a “new Arab renaissance.” Speaking about the Arab nation, Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah said “nobody should interfere in her affairs.”
The United States has sent warships toward Libya and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the country and its NATO allies are still considering a “no-fly” zone over Libya, though Western states appear hesitant to stage an intervention.
Amr Moussa, the Arab League’s secretary general, did not mention the prospect of foreign intervention in his opening remarks to the meeting.
“The situation in Libya is sorrowful and it is not correct that we accept it or live with it,” said Moussa, who intends to run for the Egyptian presidency from which Hosni Mubarak was toppled on February 11.
“The reality is the Libyan people are suffering greatly and facing violations and attempts to assassinate its desire for freedom,” he said.
Libya’s Arab League representative is one of the Libyan diplomats around the world who have deserted Gaddafi’s administration. The Libyan delegation has renounced links to Gaddafi, saying it now represented the will of the people and condemned “the heinous crimes against unarmed citizens.”
Writing by Tom Perry; editing by Ralph Boulton