Baghdad: The Iraqi government has asked the United States to prevent Israel from using its airspace in any possible attack on Iran, Gulf News has learnt.
According to a senior official, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari "conveyed to the US ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, on Friday a message from the government that Iraq doesn't accept the use of Iraqi space by Israeli jets," that could launch aerial attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Israel and Iran have been increasing the tension over the past few weeks with Tel Aviv threatening to carry out attacks to stop Tehran's nuclear programme.
US forces are responsible for preserving the sovereignty of Iraq's airspace and should not allow any possible violation by Israeli warplanes of that sovereignty, Zebari reportedly told the US envoy.
The sources said that Iraqi leaders believe any potential Israeli violation "will not take place without the pre-approval and the support of the US."
The high-profile Political Council For National Security, which includes the leaders of the major blocs in the Iraqi parliament, discussed in a recent session "a scenario by which Israeli warplanes using Iraqi airspace strike nuclear targets in Iran," the sources said.
Shakir Al Khaledi, an independent strategy and security researcher, told Gulf News Iraqi leaders were "in a very critical position."
"They are worried over the likely prospect of an Israeli strike in which Israeli warplanes would cross Jordan's and Iraq's airspace to attack Iran. This will lead to a serious rift in Baghdad's relationship with both the Americans and Iranians."
Analysts in Iraq believe the recent campaign against the powerful Shiite Sadr movement was "a prelude" to an attack against Iran, based on the assumption that the movement's armed wing, the Al Mahdi Army, would attack US forces if fellow Shiite Iran is attacked by Israel or the US.