“The biggest concern we have is the facilitation of the Iranian air bridge,” says a Western diplomat. “They know what’s in those flights, we know what’s in those flights, and they’re continuing. The inspection process is a charade.”
The diplomat said Iranian flights to Syria had increased significantly over the past few months at the same time the West was seeing evidence of an increased Iranian intelligence presence in the fighting. He said the flights were believed to include surveillance equipment and technical personnel allowing Syria’s secret police to more effectively find and kill opponents.
While Iran is believed to be providing support to the Syrian government, countries including Saudi Arabia and Qatar are widely believed to be channeling weapons to opposition forces. Diplomats say Gulf states though have so far refrained from providing strategic weapons such as antitank missiles in fear that they could eventually be used against the countries that provided them.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki this week said Iraq did not have the capacity to search every plane but emphasized that his country is committed to not being a transit point for weapons to Syria.