Iraq’s Minister of Transport Hadi al-Amiri (pictured) talks to NIQASH about Iraq’s role in alleged Iranian weapons smuggling into Syria as well US spy drones over Iraq monitoring Iranian activities. “It’s a lie,” al-Amiri says.
Al-Amiri also talks about how a recent visit to Iraq’s neighbour, Kuwait, could see Iraqi Airways flying again. And he clarifies what really went on when the group he heads, the formerly militant Badr Organization, split from the Islamic Supreme Council last week – the move caused ripples in Iraqi political circles where usually, the sect that votes together, rules together.
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NIQASH: This week at the United Nations, officials from the United States and Britain accused Iran of shipping weapons to Syria – weapons that are being used by the Syrian government against their own people. And they say the weapons are travelling through Iraqi airspace to get to Iran. What do you think?
Hadi Al-Amiri: It’s a lie. If weapons were being transported, we would have been informed. Some time ago, weapons heading for the United Arab Emirates went through Iraq; we were informed about that, we gave our permission and the shipment went through. That’s how things should be done.
Now the US claims that Iran is transporting weapons to Syria through the Iraqi air space. This is just another part of the way the US lies and spreads propaganda. Yes, there are flights from Iran to Syria passing over Iraq – but there are also flights heading to Jordan, and to Europe. Thousands of plans use Iraqi air space every month. Some just fly over, others land here. There’s no country in the world that forces all flights passing overhead to land so that their cargo can be inspected!
NIQASH: So you’re saying that Iraqi officials wouldn’t even know if weapons were actually being transported through their airspace?
Al-Amiri: If there is any doubt about this, we won’t give an air craft permission to use our airspace. The Americans told us that there were weapons being transported through our airspace so we asked them to provide us with evidence of this. We also contacted the Iranians and told them that we don’t allow weapons transported through our airspace. We also said that if we get any evidence that indicates that this is happening, we’ll stop Iranian planes flying through our airspace.
Additionally Iran would be shipping US-made weapons – that’s what they have. And the Syrian regime has Russian-made weapons. The only people in Syria using US-made weapons are the Syrian [anti-Assad regime] revolutionaries and they’re getting these from Turkey.
I’d also like to point out that Iran can ship far more weapons to Syria by sea – ten times more, in fact. So why would it be using our air space?