(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry made his first visit to Iraq on Sunday as America’s top envoy in an effort to convince leaders there that they must stop Iran from using Iraqi airspace to transport military assistance to Syria.
Washington has been specific with Baghdad that such allowances should cease. Yet despite assurances from Iraq, the transfer of Iranian arms and fighters continues with Baghdad apparently looking the other way.
Kerry’s message to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is that the over flights must end, or at least, Iranian cargo needs to be examined before it is allowed to continue to Syria.
The U.S. government isn’t buying the excuse that Iranian planes are only carrying “humanitarian” aid to Damascus. Tehran remains one of President Bashar al-Assad’s few allies in the region.
Kerry’s unannounced trip was also intended as an appeal to the Shiite government to stop marginalizing the Sunni majority.
The Shiites now wield most of the power in Iraq with both Sunnis and Kurds accusing al-Maliki of cutting them out of important decisions to determine Iraq’s progress forward.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Alanna Petroff, CNN
Ivana Kottasova, CNN
Sugam Pokharel and AJ Willingham, CNN