It is hardly surprising to read that the flow of Iranian arms continues to reach Syria via Iraqi airspace. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had promised the Obama administration that he would inspect aircraft overflying his country, but his promise has proved hollow. As the New York Times reports:
The Iraqis have inspected only two [flights], most recently on Oct. 27. No weapons were found, but one of the two planes that landed in Iraq for inspection was on its way back to Iran after delivering its cargo in Syria.
Adding to the United States’ frustrations, Iran appears to have been tipped off by Iraqi officials as to when inspections would be conducted, American officials say, citing classified reports by American intelligence analysts.
One can only wonder how the situation would have been different if the Obama administration had made a serious effort to continue an American military presence in Iraq post-2011. If a Status of Forces Agreement had been negotiated, Iraqi airspace would now be patrolled by the U.S. Air Force–and the Iranian Quds Force would lose a main route for arming its Syrian allies. Bashar Assad might well have fallen already if that were the case, and thousands of Syrian lives might have been saved.