WORLD NEWS TOMORROW – Baghdad -American senators visiting Iraq warned the Baghdad government Wednesday that it risks damaging relations with the United States if it is allowing Iran to fly over its airspace to deliver weapons to Syria.An Iraqi government spokesman responded by saying Iran has told Baghdad the flights to Syria are only delivering humanitarian aid. He said the onus is on the United States to present proof that Tehran is shipping weapons.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, independent-Conn., said Iraq’s failure to stop the flights could threaten the long-term relationship with the United States as well as aid Iraq could receive as part of a 2008 strategic pact between the two nations.Iran is Syria’s closest ally in the Middle East and it has stood by President Bashar Assad as his forces have tried to crush the uprising there for the past 17 months.
The dispute over the flights was first reported in the New York Times on Wednesday. It said American officials believe Iran resumed shipments of military equipment to Syria via Iraqi airspace in July after a three-month hiatus.”This region is about to explode,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who was visiting Iraq with Lieberman and John McCain, R-Ariz. “They’re in a pickle here,” Graham said at the same meeting with reporters where Lieberman spoke.
The three hawkish senators said the dispute is one example of how U.S. influence is dwindling in Iraq even after it pumped in billions of dollars of aid and fought a nine-year war that ousted the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and cost nearly 4,500 American lives.Ali al-Moussawi, media adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said Tehran has assured al-Maliki that the flights are carrying only food and other humanitarian aid to help victims of Syria’s civil war.