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Lawmaker: U.S. war on Gaddafi may lead to Iraq scenario

Protesters in LibyaMOSCOW. March 1 (Interfax) - A possible U.S. military intervention in Libya might provoke an Iraq scenario and "kill off the sprouts of democracy in that region," the foreign relations chief of the upper house of Russia's parliament argued on Tuesday.

"Europe and the U.S. have had their image among ordinary Arabs heavily undermined. At the moment U.S. warships are gathering off the Libyan coast, and, moreover, Washington is prepared to start hostilities against (Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi's forces without approval from some of its NATO allies and Russia. If hostilities go ahead, what will follow may in some way resemble the attempt to bring democracy to Iraq," Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, told Interfax.

The history of the United States' and Europe's attitudes to Gaddafi is a history of double standards, Margelov said.

It is chiefly oil and natural gas that the U.S. and Europe have wanted of Libya and other North African and Middle Eastern countries, he claimed.

"Human rights, democracy and the like have been left on the fringes of those relations. And one gets the impression that no one in the (ruling) circles of Europe and the U.S. has read 'The Green Book,' in which the Libyan leader condemns everything Western wholesale," the lawmaker said.

"As though no one over there has been aware of Gaddafi's terrorist inclinations or of the gloomy aspects of his regime," he said.

Margelov said the allegedly dominant role of oil and gas in European and American policies on North Africa and the Middle East explained why the West has so easily been imposing sanctions on Belarus, which possesses no hydrocarbon resources and firing "belated shots" in the backs of North African dictators who were being toppled.

"The U.S. and European Union pursue a policy toward them in which there exists a disgraceful condoning formula that 'any nation deserves its rulers,'" he said.

Yet the West need not worry because oil and gas will keep flowing from North Africa and the Middle East even if power there goes over to international militant network al-Qaeda, Margelov said. "There's no regime that would refuse petrodollars, and it's a different story what such petrodollars would be used for," he said.

Moreover, sudden Western support for the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East is making Arab ruling elites feel betrayed, which, "on top of everything else, opens up the way for extremists."

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