US Claims Iran Resupplying Syria With Arms Using Iraqi Airspace
Not everybody has been home for the political conventions. Retiring Senator Joe Lieberman, together with Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, are touring the Middle East and have found themselves - fortuitously or not - in Iraq in a period of tension between the United States and the predominantly Shiite regime of Nouri al-Maliki.
After a hiatus of a few months, the Iraqis are being accused of turning a blind eye to Iranian arms shipments to Syria via their airspace.
The Iraqi leadership has responded to the accusations by claiming that they had received assurances from the Iranians that the planes are merely transporting food and other humanitarian assistance to help the Syrian population.
The Iraqis protested that they are still waiting for Vice President Joe Biden to make good on his promise to supply the Iraqis with evidence that the Iranians are shipping contraband in violation of a UN Security Council decision.
Tommy Vietor, a spokesman at the National Security Council, claimed that did the administration merely expected Baghdad to resume meeting the obligations that it had met in the past and scoffed at the idea that the Iranians would show any restraint in their backing for the Syrian regime.
The three senators warned their hosts that failure to pitch in could jeopardize the Strategic Framework Agreement between the two countries and could hold up congressional approval of American aid and technical assistance to Baghdad.
However, the visiting American senators -none of whom is an admirer of Barack Obama's Middle Eastern policy- expressed a modicum of sympathy for the Iraqi position.
Graham, for example, said: "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."