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through an internet romance went on trial. and as a result, would die in prison. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. good morning, everyone. i'm ayman mohyeldin, alongside yasmin vossoughian here in new york at msnbc world headquarters. it is 6:00 in the east, 3:00 out west, you're watching special coverage of latest developments following the u.s. air strike that killed soleimani. there is a lot to cover today, from the middle east, to washington, here is the very latest. in baghdad this morning, thousands are on the streets for a funeral for the iraqi militia commander who was also killed in the u.s. air strike. u.s. marines are keeping up security at the embassy compound in baghdad which came under attack in the days before the air strike. and u.s. oil workers are leaving iraq, in keeping with the state
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department's urgent warning to all american citizens, to leave the country. now, the killing of soleimani has led to fears of reprisal from iran but president trump says the plan was not to start a war. >> we took action last night to stop a war. we did not take action to start a war. >> we have to pursue now that we are in a state of war with iran. the question is when iran does respond, then what do we do? where is this policy going? >> this was a fact that would have been some scale, we can't talk much about the details but suffice it to say the american people can know that the decision that president trump made to take qasem soleimani down saved american lives. >> the question moving forward is whether the administration has given any thought as to how to manage the fallout that comes from such a drastic action. this is the equivalent of the iranians assasinating the u.s.
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secretary of defense. >> with the fallout of the killing of soleimani, from all corners of the globe, we begin with nbc correspondent cal perry who joins us from doha. cal, good to have you with us. the first question on everyone's mines especially that you have arrived in doha is possibly be any reaction that may come out of iran, central command, one of the largest military bases in the region, let's talk a little bit about what you have been able to gather so far in terms of sentiment, in terms of americans posturing toward any possible response. >> reporter: certainly a lot of trepidation in the region. i think that it is putting it mildly. as you said, here in qatar, a country not just geographically in the middle but politically in the middle, you mentioned the air base, that houses some 10,000 to 12,000 u.s. personnel. this is a place where they carry air operations out. although it is not ever been said officially that air operations are being carried out in iraq or towards iran from
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here, that is a very sensitive issue for the government here. along those line, the foreign minister of qatar we've learned in just the past few minutes is actually on the ground in tehran for some sort of meetings. we're waiting for details on that. but again, it sort of gives you an indication of how sort of difficult it is right now for the countries in the region that seem to be bracing themselves for what comes next and what comes next is the obvious question is, it is one that nobody can answer. iran has vowed a response. we've heard from the ambassador to the united nations, for iran, saying that a military attack by the u.s. will bring a military attack from iran. that doesn't mean that we know what the target. is that doesn't mean we know what the timing. is certainly here in qua tar, all eyes on the air base but the hormuz, the straits of hormuz, where 25% of the world's oil travels through those straits. just 21 miles long. it is a choke point. a geographical choke point. and one that is of course vital for the world's economy, amin.
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>> is there a sense that after the killing of soleimani, that tehran currently has control of its proxies? >> reporter: you know, that is a very good question, i don't know that it is one that anybody can answer. certainly soleimani was the chief of that mission. he was the one that was building out these proxies. he was the one and we talked about this a lot that would be organizing a retaliatory strike, towards any kind of american target, had he not been killed. certainly hezbollah, in south lebanon, is something that people are keeping an eye on. we had a release from them today, saying they're responsible, for the quote-unquote definitive, and it is not clear how much they are communicating with tehran. again, the man they would be communicating with is soleimani. so as you see, sort of people take to the streets in baghdad, as you see, arab capitals around the world, like this one, sort of slowly trying to figure out what is happening, and again, qatar is a perfect example. this is a country that is an american ally, that has exceptional problems, with saudi
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arabia, it is under a saudi blockade. it is basically an island because of saudi arabia, it considers iran its neighbor because iran is a neighbor, and so it say, quote, we treat it as a neighbor, it's caught in the middle. and the attack that took place this week, the various attacks that have taken place across iraq, put this country as well as the united arab emirates, as well as bahrain where the u.s. has its fifth fleet, the naval fleet that patrols the gulf behind me under an incredible amount of pressure. >> we will bring in matt bradley, nbc news correspondent in tel aviv. good to have you with me this morning. as we all know, israel very much on high alert after the killing of soleimani. talk to us from your perspective as to what you're hearing. >> reporter: yes, you know, the question, and what cal perry just kind of flecked at, that hezbollah, on the northern borders of israel, they could actually strike against the israelis, and they have done that so many times in the past, but on the other side, in the gaza strip, there's hamas, and
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there's palestinian islamic jihad both of which supported by iran. i want to go back to your question that you put to cal which is how much does the u.s., or excuse me, how much does the iran have control over its proxies. it seems as far as the trump administration is concerned, that all of these cat's paws of iran throughout the relationen are doing exactly what, throughout the region are doing exactly what the iranians say and as a couple of days ago that's what qasem soleimani said. and what we could see in the coming days or weeks or months is a retaliatory strike that would essentially be the fruition of qasem soleimani's life's work. now he has been spending the last several decades trying to incubate and establish all of these influential groups, militias, allied governments, throughout the region, now, all of those groups, like hezbollah, like palestinian islamic jihad or hamas, could be called upon to strike against the u.s., or american allied targets throughout the region. this could be almost a tribute to his life's work, which was
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creating this axis of resistance, as the iranians have called it throughout the middle east. and now they're being finally called upon to act, maybe in unison, but it is a big question, like the one you just asked, whether or not iran really does have control over all of these groups. >> there is a lot of questioning in the country right now, here in the u.s., that president trump launched the strike in some way shape or form as a wag the dog moment because of his political struggles here at home. he is facing impeachment. and some are saying this is a way of him distracting of what is taking place in washington. there is also in the country, you're in a political scandal there, the current prime minister has been indicted for corruption as well. israel has never made it a secret that they wanted qasem soleimani. talk to us about how the actual killing itself is playing out internally. is benjamin netanyahu celebrating? or gloating about the fact that the united states has now killed israel's public enemy number one? >> reporter: we've heard con
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grat lower statements from benjamin netanyahu, who is very much under fire here. it is not just the political scandals that you mentioned that make israel and the u.s. and the whole wag the dog theory so comparable. it is the upcoming elections. benjamin netanyahu is facing withering criticism, and an indictment, as you mentioned. donald trump is facing a similar sort of process in the u.s. both of them are going to be called up for election. and right now, it looks like netanyahu is staking a lot of his claim to power, a lot of his legitimacy and basically saying the reason shoe vote for me is because of my close alliance with president donald trump of the united states, which has brought dividends to israel, namely moving the u.s. embassy from tel aviv to jerusalem, that was a big coup, and the recognition of the golan heights in northern israel. so benjamin netanyahu, when it comes to his dealings with the united states, is going to be donald trump's primary cheerleader, and this week is just another example of that. he can burnish his credentials by saying i'm bringing israel
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closer into the orbit of a white house that has been so good to israel, and our direct security interests, one of them, the primary one, is what just happened a couple of days ago, the killing of qasem soleimani, the israelis have savored that for so long and it has come to fruition and they are trumpeting it and netanyahu has not been i should saying this is within the security goals of israeli state and we are so closely aligned with the u.s. and i have brought that to you. >> guy, stick around for us. we have a lot more with you to come. matt bradley, cal perry, thank you so much. also getting new reaction on the killing of general soleimani from iran's ambassador to the united nations, calling it an illegitimate action, and also telling nbc news, it was unexpected. >> to even have any information, as to what happened beforehand, so he was a target, he has been,
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he had been you know, for some reason. the u.s. authorities have been saying that iran has been responsible for the attack against americans, but they have not shown any evidence to support their argument, and if they have any documentation, they should show it. the u.s. should bear the full responsibility of anything that will really happen in the future, to retaliate. for the killing of soleimani. >> joining us is the security fellow with the truman national security project, ahmed, good to have you with us. we have been hearing some initial reaction from iran and in new york with the iran wr wranian ambassador to the united nations. what has it indicated to you as to where their mind set is this morning? >> they're in shock. a couple of days ago, the u.s.
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can't do a thing, and mocking president trump and chair calculation has always been the paper tiger and the killing of soleimani has shocked them and the first time the supreme leader went to the national security leader showing how seriously he takes the killing of soleimani, he was a friend of the supreme leader and someone the supreme leader relied for iran's full projection of power in the region, and this was an earthquake for the iranian leadership. every single one in the iranian political spectrum, from left to right, recall them the formers have gone to soleimani's fax, family to pay their condolences. they are unifying around the death of soleimani. >> they were completely offguard of the killing of soleimani and how brazen soleimani was and he was in iraq just a couple of days after the embassy storming and traveling with the iraqi commander who was also killed in the strike. talk about the view of soleimani
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underof t inside the country. and we talked about this offline and it is reportedly that he has been revered in the country with regards to what he has done with isis, however, it is much more complicated than that domestically, and how they view soleimani. >> it is. many in iran do revere him and view him as a hero, for fighting iranians, outside of iran's borders but there are many in iran who fear him and view him and the apparatus he represents as a repressive instrument of repression for the aernian people. unfortunately, what has happened, those voices right now aren't going to be able to go out and talk about that. the space for what you saw a few weeks ago with people getting out on the streets and protesting, that's all going to be shut down.
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there's not going to be any tolerance of protests. any protests are going to be viewed as traitors. this is a similar thing that happened after the iranian revolution. when saddam hussein, iraq invaded iran, the space for protesting the clerical regime was closed. everyone kind of rallied behind the flag. >> everyone rallied. >> let me get your thoughts on one other thing the ambassador said. let me play a sound bite really quickly, when he talks about americans and how concerned they should be in the region, take a listen. >> we are not talking about american citizens. because they have not been part of, you know, the war against iran. what we have said is that this action by the u.s. government, by the u.s. administration, has its own consequences. >> so i think he is trying to make a bit of a distinction here, that the united states and its citizens are two different entities potentially for reprisal. how do you think the iranian calculation is going this
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morning? what are the likely scenarios? what are the possible targets that iran would want to go after given what you just heard there from the iranian ambassador? >> iran has to walk a very fine line and the iranian leadership has to walk a fine line. they want to be able to show that there are consequences for killing qasem soleimani. however, they can't overextend themselves and create a chain reaction of events, whereby the u.s. has escalation dominance over the region and can't go gun for gun against the united states. >> they don't want a full blown out war. >> they don't want a full blown out war but the iranians have to face the people in the irgc. and the supporters of soleimani in iran. that we took appropriate steps to avenge his death. but they have to be careful to walk that fine line, where those steps they take, by trying to avenge his death, resorts to massive retaliation on iran by
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american forces. >> how much do you think, and we actually heard john bolton yesterday, on this week, supporting the action as well and where we know john bolton stands on this, a proponent of regime change for quite some time and a proponent of war of iran for quite some time in order to effect re gem change. we heard in a call from the nsa adviser basically saying a war with iran could be very bad for the regime. he said, how much do you think this decision was based on the fact that the americans are supporting regime change in iran? >> it's not clear. there are elements in president trump's administration that are pushing for regime change to happen, that has always been a dream since 2003, with iraq, and iran was next. and president trump has come out himself and saying he doesn't want regime change, he wants a change in regime behavior. there are times when you see president trump pushing for regime behavior, those voices, you know, sway him, and there are times when you can see his
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actions, pushing for regime change. maximum pressure is clearly being met right now in iran with maximum resistance. it is still unclear how that is going to work out. >> amir, thank you very much. stick around, we will talk to you again in a little bit. reaction from the region, including this headline, a shocked iraq reconsiders its relationship with the united states. we are going to talk with a reporter from "the new york times" next. a reporter from "the new york times" next. i'm not hungry! you're having one more bite! no! one more bite! ♪ kraft. for the win win. iand i don't add up the years. but what i do count on is boost high protein.
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welcome back, everyone. across the globe, world leaders are bracing for dramatic escalation between the u.s. and iran, as 3,000 u.s. soldiers make their way to the middle east. american oil workers in iraq are fleeing the region following a warning from the state department, urging u.s. citizens to leave the country immediately. joining us now by phone, rukmini callimachi, foreign correspondent for "the new york times." great to have you with us this morning. lots to break down. first of all, let's talk a little bit and i know you spent a lot of time in iraq, you know that country better than anyone, let's talk about the relationship between the u.s. and iraq in the wake of this killing and give us a sense of reaction in that country. >> reporter: i think that this is truly a low point. i don't believe there has been a time since perhaps 2003 or 2004, when the u.s. state department had called for u.s. citizens, not the embassy, but all u.s. citizens to evacuate the country. now, what is interesting, is that in recent weeks we have
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seen massive protests in iraq, both against iran and against american interests, in the effect of an occupation, but with the killing of this major iranian figure, what has essentially happened is that iran has now become a victim. where as there was animosity towards both parties before, i believe that now, there is more of a sympathy for iran, and a lot of unpleasant feelings towards the united states. what is key is that according to my sources, it could be the case that in the iraqi parliament right now, if they were to take a vote, the people, the folks who would want the u.s. to leave iraq would have the upper hand, if they were to take a vote now. so there could be a situation where america is asked to leave the country. >> really quickly, can you clarify what you mean by leave the country? i think the notion for a lot of americans is there are no u.s. troops in iraq. give us a sense of what is the
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u.s. posture inside that country. what is the presence, when people are saying and when iraqi officials are saying, we are going to expel americans from iraq, what exactly do they mean and how do they plan on doing that? >> well, on the one hand, it is a much lesser footprint than we've had at the height of the insurgency back in 2006, 2007, when you had around 100,000 or so u.s. forces in the country. at this point, we are talking about thousands, rather than tens of thousands. but it is still a significant enough presence. they are based not in baghdad, but in roughly around two dozen outposts, small bases, forward positions, et cetera, throughout the country. and they have been critical in the fight against isis. >> we have heard from the president yesterday, we heard from the secretary of state, we heard from high level government officials basically saying there was an imminent threat from
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soleimani, especially in syria, they were saying in and around damascus around american troops and possibly american diplomats. i understand you're hearing something somewhat different than that. >> yes, i have spoken to two officials now who have received the intelligence briefing, regarding the intelligence that was presented. and what they say is that the intelligence was in fact greater than suggesting a u.s. attack, they were presented three different elements. number one, soleimani is seen to have a pattern of travel that took him through these three country, lebanon, syria, iraq, where he was meeting with shia proxies that have been known to have offensive positions towards the u.s. and number two, there were intercepted patterns indicating that soleimani had a discussion with the supreme leader, where he was speaking of an operation, asking for approval for that operation, and the supreme leader demurred and said no, i want you to come back
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to tehran for consultation. and number three, there is a pattern of increasing strikes against american targets in iraq, in the last couple of days. according to one source, that i spoke to, this is the normal monday in the middle east. this is just business as usual for soleimani. he does not see a reason that one, two, and three, equals an imminent strike against the u.s. >> let's talk a little bit about the iraqi government's position in all of this. because on one hand, they tried to walk a fine line, thread the needle so to speak between having good relationships with iran, certainly in the southern part of the country and the prime minister but at the same time, trying to maintain that security relationship with the united states, and all of that now in jeopardy, but i want to ask you about a point i brought up earlier which is the reactivation of the army which is one of the more potent forces and militias that fought the american force many years, how likely are we going to see iraq itself, and i use this word
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politely, implode a little bit around this issue, not violently but at least politically implode around the issue about whether or not america and iran should both have a presence inside that country and who should be the more tom nant force? >> i think that is going to be a key question, in the days to come, one source that i spoke to said that the iraqi army is really the big winner here, for the very reasons that you have discussed. again, before this event, there was animosity, both towards the united states, for the reasons that we all know, and towards iraq. there were protesters that were going out into the streets of baghdad, burning iranian effigies and flags but now we have a situation where iran has been turned into the victim, where america looks like the clear aggressor, and iran is seen as having been wronged. and that is not a good dynamic for the u.s.'s interests in iraq. now, whether iraq will really go the distance and kick out america is unclear to me. there are so many entities in
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iraq that benefit from a u.s. presence. and so i believe that the administration is going to hope to coax those elements into a forward position so that we can maintain our presence there. >> you have been following iraq the last couple of months and you know there are a lot of street protests against corruption and sectarian and foreign interest between the iran and the united states, and those protests have been victims of the government's crackdowns have probably found themselves in a very difficult situation, caught between this. >> i certainly want to be clear as to what we're seeing, and what is told to us, and important to reiterate, yesterday we were hearing from u.s. government officials that there was an imminent threat and hence the reason they had to target soleimani and there is a report now that this may very well be part of the course, something that soleimani was a part of for quite some time and tracking him for quite some time but yet there was no immediate and imminent threat, and that has been a pretty shocking development if in fact it is true. >> some of the tone i would say
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coming out of capitol hill. >> we heard from adam schiff, i spoke to him yesterday which we will bring up later on in the show. >> rukmini callimachi, thank you very much for joining us from "new york times." >> appreciate it. the u.s. now on alert after the strikes that killed iran's top military general, the reason why the president took on the chance to take him down and the consequences of his death. we will have the impact around the world. we'll be right back. whatever happens out there today, remember, you have the hilton app. will the hilton app help us pick the starters? great question, no. but it can help you pick your room from the floor plan. can the hilton app help us score? you know, it's not that kind of thing, but you can score free wi-fi. can it help us win? hey, hey! we're all winners with the hilton price match guarantee, alright? man, you guys are adorable! alright, let's go lose this soccer game, come on!
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we are back with more special coverage from iraq and we are seeing tens of thousands of mourners in the streets of baghdad. they are at a ceremonial funeral procession for an iraqi commander who was also killed in the air strikes that took out qasem soleimani. he is expected to be, his body is expected to be delivered to iran at some point later today for a funeral tomorrow and burial in his hometown. the u.s. embassy in baghdad is bracing for reprisals from iraqis, and the security is being peeved up there and around the region. joining us is foreign correspondent richard engel who is in iraq. richard, great to have you your expertise on this story as someone who knows iraq very well.
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let's start very briefly if you can, give us a sense of where iraq finds itself this morning. we have a lot to break down about the legality of the attack itself, but let's start just very briefly with where is iraq this morning with the protest, the tension, the regional proxy wars that have been playing out there. >> reporter: well, i'll return your compliment with one itself. i can't imagine another team with you and yasmin that has more background and expertise in the middle east and it is very good to have this conversation who get it and lived it and reported on it. so where baghdad is right now, where iraq is right now, it's on an ice egg, we don't know where things are headed, we know an event has happened that is playing out on the streets of iraq right now, the killing of this general and the top militia leader, alongside him, creates a new dynamic in this country.
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because qasem soleimani was the person in iran who wasn't just a general, but he managed all of these relationships. he had a network of militia leaders that were loyal to him, all around the region. and now, we have to watch, not just what happens in iraq, but how is this going to impact what happens in ka far and you saw the u.s. men's soccer team cancel its training in qatar. you have to watch what happens in lebanon, because the leader of hezbollah is expected to come out later today, to comment on the killing of qasem soleimani. you have to watch what happens in syria. this has a dynamic that has certainly regional implications but potentially even global implications. baghdad is certainly at the center of it. and frankly, you could look at it as a glass half full or half empty. let's start with the half full side. the looking good, it could have been worse. so far, in baghdad. they were bracing for those protests to spill out on the
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streets, to try and storm the embassy. and security forces are telling us they reached out to the militias, they reached out to the supporters of the militias and said don't do it. if you go near the u.s. embassy today, they will shoot at you. so far, it hasn't happened. that's the good news. but it is never obviously a good situation when you have the entire region on edge and you have tens of thousands of people standing on the streets of iraq, a capital that was, let's say liberated or that's a loaded word, a government that was brought into being, by the united states intervention. and when you have tens of thousands of people on the streets of iraq now, it shouting death to america, that is not a good sign. >> richard, nbc actually interviewed the iranian ambassador yesterday and he was asked for the response to all of this. how will they respond to all of this and he went so far to say that basically this is not about
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american citizens but i don't necessarily know how iran is going to respond to all of this. what is your sense for the response of iran, one, and alsos i want to pose a question to you which i posed at the top of the show, which is is there confidence that tehran still has control over its proxies? >> reporter: so iran has, let's start with the second, iran has considerably less control over its proxies today than it did yesterday. and that is a real concern. because not all leaders are the same. not all generals are the same. qasem soleimani was uniquely qualified. he was charismatic, at times even funny, and he was certainly very intelligent, certainly also ruthless, and machiavellian, so his ability to control and manage a network of armed groups all around the region will be a high bar for his successor to manage. we'll see if his successor is up to it. but knowing the tensions so far that these groups want to break
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away from iran, they were quite happy with their relationship with iran, they got money and weapons and expertise from iran, so it is not that iran was keeping them under lock and key, but the person holding that lock and key is now dead. so we'll have to watch those relationships. and that was i think what the u.s., what the iranian ambassador was getting at, in the somewhat cryptic comments. he was saying, look, iran can't be held responsible if some of these groups go out and decide to take their act, iran probably can be held responsible for that and probably will be held responsible for that, but he was setting the stage for this scenario, in which one of the proxies takes an action, and iran takes its normal position of denyability, it's not me, it was these local groups, which they nurture and support and fund and arm and train. qasem soleimani, and now through the successor to a degree, we
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will see how effectively. >> to that point, the iranian foreign minister had said to some extent that we are not responsible for everything that happened in the region. and i'm curious to get your thoughts, richard, on this, because he also had a quote, several months ago that i thought was very interesting, he said basically that president trump can't have a monopoly on unpredictability. he can't expect to be unpredictable and everyone else at predictable. so in a scenario where it is unpredictable, what are we likely to see happen next? is this a long-range -- >> what do you brace for? >> yes, what do you brace for? we are seeing the short term positions of securing the embassy and the u.s. men's national team canceling training camp in qatar but the reality is, what is the long game here? >> reporter: okay, so if you talk to military leaders in the pentagon, former and current, some of them are quite happy with what happened. they say that president trump is
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restoring deterrents. that the obama administration, with its somewhat wavering policies, syria, drawing red lines, and not sticking to them, promising to overthrow bashar al assad and not doing it, and pulling out troops from iraq without really a plan, they will say that what president trump did was tough, but clear. not ambiguous. you threaten the u.s. interests, you threaten u.s. personnel, you attack bases, and the people who organize those attacks will find themselves meeting an early death. so there are plenty of people who think this is what the u.s. should be doing. and that the u.s. is on the right path, under this very decisive aggressive policy. now, there are others who take a different approach. they think that operating in the middle east should be more like defensive driving. that your main goal should not be to find a problem and drive right over it, but that shoe avoid problems, shyou should avd
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pitfalls whenever possible and killing soleimani, and opening a door, they have effectively opened a door to a corridor, they don't know where it is going to lead. there is really an ideological difference here. and we vernl have take continue. president trump has taken this decision. he has killed soleimani. there are a lot of people at the pentagon and the white house patting themselves on the back and president trump has taken a victory lap with supporters saying he killed the al qaeda leader and the isis leader and now he killed this iranian top general, so he's the one with bringing decisiveness back to america and pride back to america and there are plenty in the middle east who say that they don't know where this is going to go, that iran is going to respond, at a time and in a way of its choosing, and that might be now, and it might be in a year, we really don't know. and it could be cyber. it could be through one of the mish yas. this he could try to take an
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attack on a u.s. naval vessel. could, could, could, could. we frankly don't know. and i think that's why, when iran says maybe it is one of these misha, we can't take responsibility. we can be unpredictable, too. they're deliberately selling that ambiguity about how and when they respond. >> absolutely. and overwhelmingly, we have heard, anybody who said they do know the response, they don't know. >> exactly. chief foreign correspondent richard engel, thank you very much. stay safe, my friend. the lethal force of force on iran's top military general has sent the u.s. into a state of alert around the world. the daily beast saying the consequences could not come quickly but it could be the beginning of a much wider war in the iran perhaps an all-out war with iran that president trump has said he wanted to avoid. joining us now is one of the
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righters of the piece, an ominous piece. and an incredible development over the last 48 hours and this is the first time we're hearing from you and i want to give you the floor and get your reaction zwr. >> it is an ominous situation, there is no question about it, there is a reason in the past that opportunities in the past were passed up by the bush administration, by obama, opportunities by the israelis taking out soleimani, because the cost would be too high it and would make an incredibly unpredictable region that much more unpredictable. and president trump, his approach to foreign policy, especially in the middle east, is not a poker game. not a chess game. it is more like 52 pickup. you throw all of the cards in the air. you see where they land. and you say well, we'll just deal with that when it comes. well, you can't do that in the middle east. that's what we saw in 2003 in iraq. and we're still paying the price for that. so that is the real difficulty here. now, what is iran's response
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going to be? you're right, nobody knows. but what is iran's perspective? the iran's objective is to squire i -- secure its regime. and securing its regime by securing control over its neighbors. that's what the force has created to do, that's what the militias are about, that's what the alliance with syria is about, and lebanon and especially the activities in iraq where the entire government is heavily penetrated by iranian agents. and pro-iranian personnel. so if the united states thinks it is going to solve this problem by knocking off one man, no matter how charismatic, it's not. iran is going to play a long game. and iraq is going to be faced always with the fact that it has a power neighbor, it has a shia majority, many of whom are highly synthetic highly sympathetic to iran and
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accide accident, desperate need of stability rather than escalation. and the united states is not giving it that. and the question of dignity and humiliation. this is humiliating for iraqis. even iraqis who didn't like qasem soleimani. each iraqis who didn't like iran. the idea that the united states would tee ploy troops and kill people on iraqi streets and the streets of baghdad at its whim is humiliating. and i don't think that bodes well for the future of american involvement in iraq. and i think the bottom line for iran is that in the near future, or the middle distant, there will be no american presence left in iran. that will be the consequence. and if ever there was revenge, by khomeini and his minion, that would be it. >> let's talk a little bit about the potential response from arab countries to this. because certainly there is no
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love lost between saudi arabia and some of the gulf countries and iran but it is also a very difficult situation for them. they're perhaps the most vulnerable in this equation. more vulnerable than certainly the united states. but they wake up this morning, with a new reality, that they have now been put in the cross-hairs of what could be an iranian response, given the fact that they're so closely aligned with the united states, they house thousands of american soldiers, and this morning, they have to make a decision. do you see arab countries possibly breaking a little bit with the united states? saying look, we didn't sign up for this. you're leading us to a full-blown war with a country that we know has far superior capabilities in wreaking havoc internally in our own country? >> i think that the saudi response will be to beg for even more protection from the united states. i think they feel terribly vulnerable. let's not forget the attack on their oil facilities in september. that was a brilliant attack carried out by proxies, supposedly, and what did it do? it created a huge conflagration
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but it was so carefully calculated that nobody was killed. that shows you the way iran calculates what it does. and it was a huge humiliation for mohammed bin salman, the crown prince of saudi arabia. i think we will also see activity in yemen. i think saudi arabia is going to come under a lot more pressure, and we're going to then, president trump is going to have to see how much he wants to commit to the defense of saudi arabia. by the way, isn't he the president who is committed to ending the endless war? to getting out of the middle east? does it look like we're getting out of the middle east now? it doesn't leak like that to me. >> it doesn't feel like that to me with the 3,000 troops to kuwait. >> short answer here, i know we have to go, is iran any closer to regime change now than they were four days ago? >> probably not as close. probably not as close. >> they were closer to regime change on friday than today. >> sure they are, because there is nothing that unifies a country like an external attack,
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even if not everybody loves this regime. >> they are a very patriotic people. iranians. >> all over the middle east, people are patriotic. you can't treat them as if they're just insignificant people, or a nuisance on the map. >> christopher dickey, appreciate it, always enjoy your insights. >> appreciate it. thank you so much. we want to turn to the political fallout from the u.s. air strike that killed top iranian general qasem soleimani. the president's decision to carry out that attack without consulting congress is dividing democrats and republicans and praising his decision and others criticizing the move. take a listen to this. >> when the security of the nation is at stake, decisions must not be made in a vacuum. >> when you have a strategic strike, or one that is tactical, many times they have to be done in a covert manner. >> in these kinds of initial reactions, the president has the authority, should take the authority, and i'm glad that he did. >> we should not go to a war
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with iran based on a presidential decision with no consultation of congress. >> i recommend that all senators wait to review the facts and hear from the administration before passing much public judgment on this operation, and its potential consequences. >> joining us now jonathan allen senior political analyst and scott wong, a senior staff writer covering the hill. there is a disparity that exists right now with regards to why, the decision to strike soleimani now, as we heard from rukmini callimachi earlier, we heard from a top official, basically saying it was par for the course, they had been tracking soleimani for quite some time, there was nothing new, there no imminent threat and we heard from the donald trump we heard from the president, we heard from the secretary of state that there was an imminent threat in syria. what are you making of this
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disparity that exists as part of the decision making from the white house? >> i think there has to be, from the perspective of the white house, the pentagon, and the american government, in order to justify a strike like this, without authorization from congress, without informing congress, and without seeking to cite an authorization from the 2001 ought ration , authorizati military force for afghanistan and al qaeda. and without that, they have to say there was a reason the president went forward without any congressional authorization and to do that, they have to basically say there was an emergency here, that the president was defending american lives and national security interests were at risk. so i think that is why you're hearing that from the pentagon. we don't really have a lot of information. there was not public information about what that threat is. we've just heard, you know, national security officials say that there is that threat. and i think we're going to have
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to wait to find that information. and honestly, i think it's somewhat irresponsible to suggest that that information exists without seeing what it is. >> scott, i know that you have spent a lot of time on the hill, spew ec to your sources, we live in a very hyper-partisan world, where almost everything that plays out on the national stage and international stage is seen through a partisan lens, and we're seeing that now emerge a little bit with the decision to carry out this strike and the potential consequences of it. how likely do you think we will see growing calls by the democrats to actually see some of the intelligence or evidence that compelled this administration to take that strike. when you look at how things have played out, lindsey graham saying he has known about this since monday and the gang of eight, and the senior member was the democratic party who should have been briefed on this, and other members of congress, were totally left in the dark. >> right, a lot of those members
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of the gang of eight were briefed after the fact, typically, they would be looped into the situation beforehand, even if it was, a day or two beforehand, so i think democrats because they do control the house of representatives, they control the committees that have investigatory power, i think we could see investigations take place, at least currently of the soleimani air strike, perhaps in the intelligence committee, led by adam schiff, perhaps in elliot engel's committee, foreign affairs. certainly, we are seeing capitol hill flex its muscle, the senator from virginia, hillary clinton's running mate in 2016, is rolling out a resolution that would require president trump to seek congressional approval for any sort of further military action in, against iran, where
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we are seeing bernie sanders as well as the house of representatives, roll out a resolution, that would try to curtail funding, you attack the president's pursestrings, if you will, when it comes to any sort of further military action in iran as well. >> and we heard -- there was a call with national security adviser which i was talking about at the top of the hour, and in that call he was asked will we see evidence as to why this attack was carried out. >> i doubt it. >> he said basically not going to happen. he talked ab the history of soleima soleimani, and he said we'll have a conversation later about the possible evidence that will be seen. i think the likelihood of anything coming out. >> thank you both for getting up early today, appreciate it. next, how might iran strik back? where in the world does america need to be on guard most?
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welcome back, we continue our special coverage of the fallout following the u.s. air strike that killed iran's top military general has qassem soleimani. >> let's bring in u.s. medal of honor recipient and msnbc military analyst, great to have your insights with us. obviously the first question on everyone's mind is where is the united states vulnerable? where do we have american troops that could potentially be a possible target for iran or its proxies in the region? >> we have a large number of troops there, fewer than we used to, but they're building up again. the 82nd airborne division is going to send a brigade to the region. these numbers are old already. you can see the largest number of troops are here in the persian gulf, and the large majority of those navy and marine corps who are afloat. but we have a big concentration
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of all services, lots of them are in logistics and administration, but we do have combat troops stationed just about everywhere. >> let's talk navy as well. obviously navy will be under threat amidst all of this. talk to us about the navy here? >> yeah, we've got -- these are the carrier battle groups, the u.s.s. batan which has lots of marines aboard for amphibious landing, right off the kcoast o africa, but the harry truman is in the gulf. it's an aircraft carrier battle group. there are lots of other ships, both attack ships and support ships, and probably submarines as well we're sporting, so there's a lot of fire power that can be use ed.
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>> in terms of the as a ruvuln y vulnerability, the geographic dispersion is one thing. are these groups out in the open, are they vulnerable, do you think when they're out? i assume they have the capabilities to defend themselves from what iran did, but then i think of the u.s.s. cole which happened in yemen. >> the large scale ships can defend themselves, battle groups can defend themselves. the problem with the cole was that it didn't pay very much attention to the threat. having said all that, we're talking about what kind of retaliation there could be, it's not going to be directly from iran. it will be from proxies. hezbollah and so on. small rubber boats with explosive ordinates aboard. they're going to have to have great early warning and they're always at risk. the bigger risks, however, are
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not at sea. the bigger risks are on the land. take a look at this. we've got not just the embassy, people outside the embassy even now, but we have consulates less heavily defended right now, and that's not even including the forward operating bases in a wide variety of places. those are all at risk. >> so we have talked overwhelmingly about the fact that if there is a response from iran, and no one knows what that's going to look like, it certainly will not be a symmetric response, it will be more of an asymmetric response with regard to the proxies, so how, in fact, do you set up a defense force to deal with these proxies when they may not be under the control of tehran anymore with the death of qassem soleimani, and they are disbursed everywhere with varying degrees of leadership? >> well, that's been our problem all the while in the middle east. we've been dealing with proxies of various types and varieties,
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home grown movements. they've all been difficult to deal with, and we've got people everywhere trying to pick up intelligence about where they are and what their intentions are and so on, but because they're all fragmented, it makes it extremely difficult. one of the big problems with having a fragmented enemy is that it's not like on a regular battlefield, and gathering intelligence because extremely difficult, determining what intentions are becomes extremely difficult, and that's the problem you have in the middle east right now. >> colonel jack jacobs trying to clarify it all for us. >> it's going to get more complicated and more difficult over time now. >> thank you so much, colonel. appreciate your time on this. two big questions remain, how iraq might respond and how the united states can anticipate what might come next. we're going to talk to a security analyst in our next hour. we'll be right back. insurance,
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