Appearing on the 3rd Hour Today show on Wednesday, NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel fretted over the possibility that President Trump may “taunt” or “humiliate” Iran during an upcoming address to the nation and possibly spark “another cycle of violence.”
After a report in which he claimed that Iran’s ineffectual missile attack on American bases in Iraq “was more about restoring Iran’s honor,” Engel warned: “I worry that what could be, what seemed to be a contained incident….is this going to escalate further?” The reporter specifically feared how the President may respond:
Of course on Tuesday, Engel had no problem touting Iranian sympathizers in Iraq taunting U.S. diplomats by creating a “large mural” of deceased terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani on a building directly across from the recently attacked U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
Why is it that the media are so often concerned with the self-esteem of America’s enemies?
9:04 AM ET
RICHARD ENGEL: Symbolically, with vengeance served, Iran resumed the burial of its slain general, Qasem Soleimani, considered a terrorist by the U.S. This morning, the Ayatollah saying the attack was “a slap in America’s face.” But U.S. officials tell NBC News, Iran may have actually tried to deliberately miss American troops, that the attack was more about restoring Iran’s honor.
Iranian officials are publicly are talking about how decisive and destructive their response was. But quietly, they are saying that this was a calibrated response, to show strength, to restore a bit of honor to the country after it lost its general, but without provoking a war with the united States. Back to you.
SHEINELLE JONES: And in the midst of all of that, Richard, I’m interested in your experience. How has it been for you guys, from your perspective? I mean, at the hotel, at night, or just your day-to-day movement. How has it been?
ENGEL: Well, since I’ve been before covering Iraq and the Middle East for a long time, I worry that what could be, what seemed to be a contained incident, a tit for tat, the U.S. strikes a military target, a man that the United States called a terrorist, Iran responds with somewhat of a symbolic strike – but you wonder, is this going to escalate further?
We’re still waiting to hear from President Trump. Is he gonna come out and taunt the Iranians? Is he going to try and humiliate them while they are trying to show strength? And will we be in yet another cycle of violence?
Also, Iran responded conventionally, it used its army, it launched this cross-border attack. But Iran still has a lot of militia groups, a lot of proxies that are loyal to it. And are they gonna feel the need to carry out some sort of response? So although we may be in a bit of a clearing right now, I’m not sure if we’re out of the woods, to continue the analogy.
JONES: There’s anxiety for sure, yeah.