KCBS In Depth: Tensions In The Middle East

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A Libyan warplane was shot down over the outskirts of Benghazi on Saturday. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP)

A Libyan warplane was shot down over the outskirts of Benghazi on Saturday. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP)

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Airstrikes continue to target parts of Libya on Sunday as fighting continues between Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and rebels and civilians who are calling for his ouster.

The uprising in the country began on February 15, inspired by the toppling of governments in Tunisia and Egypt.

KCBS In Depth: Interview With Dr. Abbas Milani

Dr. Abbas Milani, the Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University and a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, has been following the situation in the Middle East closely.

He said the situation has changed since international action to impose a no-fly zone began on March 19.

“The leaders of the (other) Arab nations have to be careful. They can’t be seen as being identified with what Gadhafi has described as a crusade,” said Milani. “I don’t think he has too many buyers in the region, but leaders who are threatened themselves, while they want to be rid of Gadhafi, they can’t be too eager in siding with the United States.”

The United States and others began airstrikes on Libya in an effort to impose a no-fly zone and keep Gadhafi’s forces from attacking rebels and civilians.

Milani said Gadhafi has very few allies and he is viewed by many as “an egomaniac with a lot of money to spend.”

“I think there is a consensus that he is an unstable man who has unfortunately been allowed to rule a country that has enormous wealth for 42 years,” said Milani. “If you go back and look at his behavior, it is a long litany of criminal behavior, both against his own people and against the international community.”

Milani said he’s not sure how long it will take to oust Gadhafi from power, but the longer it takes, the more the people of Libya will suffer.

“For him (Gadhafi) to stay, in defiance of the international community, in defiance of European leaders, in defiance of the United States, would be an embarrassment to all of them and a criminal disaster for the Libyan people,” he said.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to address the nation on the Libyan offensive on Monday evening.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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