Kerry Confronts Iraqi Leadership on Iranian Overflights

Secretary of State John Kerry said he “made it very clear” to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki in a face-to-face meeting that “overflights from Iran” of Iraqi territory en route to Syria are ruining Iraq’s credibility as a viable US partner. Briefing reporters on March 24 during his visit to Baghdad—less than one week after the 10th anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom’s start—Kerry said he had a “very spirited discussion” with Maliki in which he emphasized that such overflights “are, in fact, helping to sustain” Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime, something that the United States considers “problematic.” Kerry said he told Maliki that “there are members of Congress and people in America who increasingly are watching what Iraq is doing and wondering how it is that a partner in the efforts for democracy and a partner for whom Americans feel they have tried so hard to be helpful . . . can be, in fact, doing something that makes it more difficult to achieve our common goals.” Kerry said he remained hopeful the two countries would “be able to make some progress on this.” (Kerry transcript)