clear
Saturday May 28th, 2016 8:04AM

US senators warn Iraq over Iran shipments to Syria

By The Associated Press
BAGHDAD - American senators visiting Iraq warned the Baghdad government Wednesday that it risked damaging relations with the U.S. 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 U.S. to offer up proof that Tehran is shipping weapons.

Senator Joe Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut, said Iraq's failure to stop the flights could threaten the long-term relationship with the U.S. as well as aid Iraq could receive as part of a 2008 strategic pact between the two nations.

"Bottom line, this kind of problem with these Iranian overflights can make it more difficult to proceed with the Strategic Framework Agreement in the manner that the prime minister and we would like to see happen," Lieberman told reporters in Baghdad. "So I hope this is cleared up quickly."

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. Activists say at least 23,000 have been killed.

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 Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who was visiting Iraq with Lieberman and Republican John McCain of Arizona. "They're in a pickle here," Graham said at the same meeting with reporters where Lieberman spoke.

"The reason they're probably not pushing back on Iran is because they don't see how this ends. There's an amazing lack of American leadership, and it's beginning to show on all fronts," Graham added.

The three hawkish senators said the dispute was one example of how U.S. influence is in dwindling 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, confirmed that Iranian planes are flying over Iraq to deliver goods to Syria. But he 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.

Iraqi and American officials say the U.S. believes otherwise. They said U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has promised to send al-Maliki evidence that the flights contain weapons to help Assad's regime - something that would be a violation of a U.N. Security Council agreement.

"The Iraqi government is carefully monitoring this issue both in the sky and ground," al-Moussawi told The Associated Press. He said Iraq has warned Iran against flying weapons though its airspace.

"The Iranian government has said that it respects our decisions," he insisted. "Until now, there is no evidence of any violation in this regard, and if anyone has any evidence, they should bring it to us and we will take the needed measures," al-Moussawi said.

He said Biden promised to show al-Maliki proof of the weapons shipments about a month ago - but claimed the Iraqis never received it.

Iraq has insisted it is not taking sides in the uprising. But its Shiite-led government has been trying to foster closer ties with Shiite Iran over the last several years, even as western powers have demanded that Assad step down.
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Doctors: Blood clot located in Clinton's head
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton developed a blood clot in her head but did not suffer a stroke or neurological damage, her doctors said Monday. They say they are confident that she will make a full recovery.
3:55PM ( 3 years ago )
Illinois Sen. Kirk to return a year after stroke
Nearly a year after a stroke left him barely able to move the left side of his body, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is expected to climb the 45 steps to the Senate's front door this week - a walk that's significant not just for Illinois' junior senator, but also for medical researchers and hundreds of thousands of stroke patients.
3:54PM ( 3 years ago )
U.S. News
Amid shouts of 'shame,' House GOP defeats gay rights measure
Democrats shouted "shame," but House Republicans switched their votes and defeated a measure to protect gay rights
8:03PM ( 1 week ago )
CDC director Freiden warns GOP Zika bill is inadequate
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday that a House GOP measure to combat the Zika virus is inadequate to deal with the swelling threat to public health
7:36PM ( 1 week ago )
Trump unveils list of his top picks for Supreme Court
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, released Wednesday a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia if he's elected to the White House.
3:31PM ( 1 week ago )
1st US penis transplant could bring hope to maimed soldiers
A 64-year-old cancer patient has received the nation's first penis transplant, a groundbreaking operation that may also help U.S. veterans maimed by roadside bombs
8:04PM ( 1 week ago )
States dig in against directive on transgender bathroom use
Politicians in Texas, Arkansas and elsewhere are vowing defiance over the Obama administration's new directive on transgender bathroom use
9:19PM ( 2 weeks ago )