TEHRAN - If the West wanted to help Libyan civilians it would arm them rather than bombing Muammar Gaddafi, Iran's leader said on Monday, accusing Washington of seeking a strategic "foothold" in oil-rich Libya.
In a speech to mark the new Iranian year, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected US President Barack Obama's assertion that opposition protesters in Iran were the same as pro-democracy masses that have risen up against autocratic governments across the Middle East.
Khamenei has welcomed the uprisings in the Arab world as part of an "Islamic awakening" and poured scorn on the West's military moves to protect Libyan civilians.
"We condemn 100 percent how Gaddafi was and is dealing with the people ... the killing of civilians," he said. "But we also condemn 100 percent the entrance and interference of America and the West."