Kerry presses for end to Iran's shipments to Syria over Iraq
March 24th, 2013
05:43 PM ET

Kerry presses for end to Iran's shipments to Syria over Iraq

By Kevin Liptak

Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday in Baghdad that he pressed Iraq's leaders to take steps prohibiting Iranian planes from delivering arms to Syria's besieged government, which is battling rebels backed by financial support from the American government.

Iranian planes must fly through Iraq's airspace in order to reach Syria with deliveries of weapons and supplies. The flights are occurring almost daily, according to a senior State Department official accompanying Kerry on his stop in Baghdad.

"Anything that supports President Assad is problematic," Kerry told reporters, referring to Syria's leader. "And I made it very clear to the prime minister that the overflights from Iran are, in fact, helping to sustain President Assad and his regime."

Kerry's previously unannounced trip to Iraq came after he joined President Barack Obama on a trip to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. This week marked the ten-year anniversary of the beginning of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and the first time since 2009 that a U.S. secretary of state has visited the country. Obama last went to Iraq in April 2009.

Speaking to reporters in Baghdad, Kerry described his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as "spirited," and added that allowing the Iranian flights through Iraq belied the "common goals" shared by Iraq and the United States.

Last fall, Kerry's predecessor at the State Department, Hillary Clinton, called on Iraq to take steps to prevent Iran from using its land and airspace to deliver shipments to Syria. At the time, Iraq agreed to conduct random inspections of Iranian planes bound for Syria.

Iraq's foreign minister said at the time the country faced a difficult task in enforcing the inspections.

"We explained to the U.S. side that Iraq's air defense capabilities are limited, and we are in the stage of building our air force," Hoshyar Zebari said in a newspaper interview.

Iranian flights over Iraq to Syria began in March 2012 but were stopped shortly after, at the request of Iraq, Zebari said. The flights resumed in July.

The State Department official said al-Maliki would be offered a "theoretical seat at the table" in determining the political future of Syria if he agrees to halt the Iranian flights in Iraq's airspace.

Syrian rebels have been fighting to oust al-Assad for more than two years in a conflict that's claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced more than a million people. Earlier this month, Western counterterrorism officials and analysts told CNN that Sunni jihadist groups were growing in strength along the Syria-Iraq border.

The groups could post a challenge to both the al-Assad government in Damascus and the Shiite-led government of Iraq.

Scores of people were killed and wounded earlier this week on the same day Iraq marked the ten-year anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion.

The attacks - 17 car bombs, seven roadside bombs, and two shootings - ripped mostly through Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad, but also struck Sunni communities in other towns. At least 187 people were wounded.

The deteriorating security situation prompted authorities to postpone Provincial Council elections scheduled for April in the provinces of Anbar and Nineveh - a decision the State Department official said on Sunday was done without the input of Sunnis or Kurds.

Kerry pushed al-Maliki to reconsider his decision to delay those votes during their meeting Sunday.

"Everyone needs to vote simultaneously," Kerry said, adding: "No country knows more about voting under difficult circumstances better than Iraq."

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Filed under: Iran • Iraq • John Kerry • Security Brief • Syria
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. helenecha

    If Iraq does understand that it is profoundly crucial for Iraq to do something right for the progressive process of a middle east, what Kerry is pressing for is not only excessive but passive as well.

    Frankly, my point is I can’t persuade myself into being the ones who are proud of a complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

    March 25, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Reply
  2. helenecha

    If Iraq does understand that it is profoundly crucial for Iraq to do something right for the progressive process of a middle east, what Kerry is pressing for is not only excessive but passive as well.

    March 25, 2013 at 11:33 pm | Reply
  3. Robert Fullbright

    Somebody should Recruit the Kurds to Blockade those shipments... Hmmm

    Who else Agrees with me here?

    March 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Reply
    • John Geheran

      I do, except that I believe that they should also block shipments to these self-styled "liberators" from the West as well. This pro=Western riff raft did just as much if not more damage in Syria that the Assad regime done as purported by the right-wing news media!

      March 25, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Reply
  4. massoud

    The NY Times reported today that the C.I.A. has been arming Syrian Rebels/Terrorists since early 2012. Obama has repeatedly lied to the American public in regards to the US arming Syrian Rebels/Terrorists.I can not say that I am surprised to say the least. The Corporate controlled Mainstream Media has lied in conjunction with the President and been covering for the President, this is a betrayal of truth by Obama by lying to the American public in regards to denying for this long that the US was arming the Rebels/Terrorists in Syria. I am glad that a left wing Newspaper the NY Times reported the lies by Obama and his Administration in regards to the US arming Syrian Rebels/Terrorists, so the Obama worshippers can not blame FOX News for being inaccurate or biased. Must suck to be an Obama apologist these days, liberals you can not deny any longer that he is a fraud.

    March 25, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  5. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015. ha ha ha

    March 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Reply
    • BigShiz

      BlaBlaBla

      March 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Reply
    • John Smith

      This is my work from home job. It is easy, you can make $500 a week from home, all tax free, no experience needed. They [Pakistani consulate] give you a statement, which you have to copy and paste on line blogs or forums, as simple as that.

      March 25, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  6. Redneck Canuck

    You cant stop the flow of weapons because its bad for business. Nice show by the Secretary but until recently the big military industrial complex doesn't really mind if both sides have a good supply chain as long as Americans were not killed.
    Iraq was the first time that didn't matter; but then again Saddam did try to kill W's daddy.

    March 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Reply
  7. Kerry

    Here's just more evidence that those neocons in Washington want to take over in Syria and set up another pro-Western pseudo-democracy! And we cannot balance the national budget here at home! Something's definitely wrong here!

    March 25, 2013 at 11:55 am | Reply
    • massoud

      I am no fans of neocons, being a libertarian, however the NY Times has an article in its current editions stating that the C.I.A. under Obama has been supplying the Syrian Rebels/Terrorists since early 2012. Obama is no different than the neocons when it comes to American Foreign Policy.He is just the same as Bush when it comes to US interventionist Foreign Policy.

      March 25, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Reply
      • George Patton-2

        Quite true massoud, quite true indeed!

        March 25, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
      • Lee A. Punth

        Bush unilaterally invaded Iraq while Obama's doing what most US presidents and presidents of other powerful countries have been doing forever

        March 28, 2013 at 1:45 am |
  8. SecretSquirrel

    Secretary Kerry's request of Iraq is unreasonable. Iraq lacks the air defense capabilities to enforce a no-fly zone against Iranian aircraft, and if the U.S. were to enforce it for Iraq it would likely start a war with Iran. They generally dislike us shooting down their aircraft. Any Iraqi ban on Iranian planes flying though their airspace on their way to Syria would only be symbolic.

    March 25, 2013 at 9:15 am | Reply
  9. billy

    The leaders of the USA are clueless as to world issues. We need to get the hell out of every country and build
    up America. Our politicians have sold their souls for re-election and easy money.

    March 25, 2013 at 5:48 am | Reply
    • George Patton-2

      Quite true billy, quite true! This is only going to continue as long as we keep electing these right-wing nutjobs into office over and over again! These people work for the M.I.C. in Washington and not us!!!

      March 25, 2013 at 11:58 am | Reply
      • Redneck Canuck

        Hey George! George Patton I was definitely not a bleeding heart liberal. He was the guy who wanted to roll American armor on through to Moscow and rid the world of communism at the end of WW2. Definitively a right winger nut job as you call them with great foresight as the cold war and most of the messes in the world today would not have happened or be happening now.

        George Patton was a true hero and a patriot to not just America but the world. Please don't use his name in the redress of the right wing agenda as the alternative is to live under some other nations cloud of influence. Personally I believe though America is not perfect I would rather them have the big stick on the world than the Russians, Chinese, or the axis powers during the 40's. Thankfully George did too!

        March 25, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  10. Mike

    Tell me how come us and Europe supplying arm to armed terrorist but Iran can not armed the valid govement.USA and Israel are terrorist and supporter of terrorism.

    March 25, 2013 at 1:50 am | Reply
    • George Patton-2

      Thank you, Mike. I couldn't agree more!

      March 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Reply
      • Mike

        Thank you, George Patton-2. I couldn't agree more with myself too!

        March 26, 2013 at 10:08 am |
  11. Dfgjbvxfhj Jhvftuj

    NOTICE HOW THE TERRORISTS NEVER RUN OUT OF MONEY

    March 25, 2013 at 12:18 am | Reply
  12. Dfgjbvxfhj Jhvftuj

    ISREAL ALWAYS REQUIRES A DANGERIOUS BUT NEVER THE LESS IMAGINARY ENEMY

    March 25, 2013 at 12:13 am | Reply
  13. Dfgjbvxfhj Jhvftuj

    WHAT KERRY DID WAS GIVE PERMISSION TO IRANIAN BEHAVIOR IT HAS COME TO LIGHT THAT ANY MUSLIM ANY PLACE HAS BEEN GIVEN FULL PERMISION BY ISREAL TO DO WHAT EVER THEY WANT TO WHOM EVER THEY WANT i.e. PAST PRESENT & FUTURE

    March 25, 2013 at 12:09 am | Reply
  14. Navyvet

    We spent a small fortune, no... wait.... a HUGE fortune "Freeing Iraq" from a murderous dictator. Which I find kind of funny since we killed more of their civilians than Saddam ever thought of... Then we leave the country in turmoil after we install a Pro Western puppet government... Then when they exhibit the 1st thoughts of independent thought by allowing their neighbor who they were previously at war with to overfly THEIR airspace to get to another country where wer are again covertly trying to install another Pro Western puppet government under the guise of "Freedom Fighters",... and WE get in Iraq's crap over it??? Unless Iraq became the 51st state, or a US Territory,.. How in the Hell is it any of our business who overflys where when the government we installed gave them permission to do it??? Am I missing something here??? Anyone???

    March 24, 2013 at 11:30 pm | Reply
  15. dghrthj sdghk

    )()THE JEWS AND OR THE CHINESE WILL GAIN ANOTHER COUPLE OF BANKING SYSTEMS OUT OF THIS REMEMBER THAT AMERICA IS JUST A TOOL FOR ISREAL OBAMA SAID AS MUCH()(

    March 24, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Reply
  16. Jaimie

    I can see the problem there. Someone in Iraq is padding their pockets with cash to let Iran use the air space and airports. This must be stopped

    March 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Reply
  17. arizonapatriot

    give iraq a bill for liberating them from a cruel dictator, reinstall the no fly, zone make iraq pay the bill, shoot down any iranian plane military or civilian no warning shots

    March 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Reply
    • Henry

      Irac shoul send you a biill for evrery person killed like lets say 500000$ then maybe you will stay home

      March 24, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Reply
      • 1371usmc

        And you think they would get a dime? You enter a no-fly zone you get what you ask for.

        March 24, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  18. Henry

    have you americans gone crazy / why can't you leave Irac alone have you not done enough damage and killed who knows how many allready. for the live of me i can't understand why you have to have your fingers in all over the world

    March 24, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      Good question. We should let just let the animals kill themselves. place our military on the borders and protect the U.S. and let the rest of the world take care of itself. Along with cutting off every penny of foreign aid.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Reply
      • Mike

        You are the animal and your government (USA) are animals and terrorist and terrorist lovers deat to America

        March 25, 2013 at 1:55 am |
      • 1371usmc

        Mike come back when you can put a sentence together

        March 25, 2013 at 6:47 am |
  19. john smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    March 24, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      Very nice and very smart America everyday going down what goes around comes around?

      March 25, 2013 at 1:58 am | Reply

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