Anti-American commandos from Iran are already helping the Iraqi military by doing the sort of logistical coordination that President Obama promised from the U.S. Army today, NBC's Richard Engel noted in a June 19 Nightly News report from Baghdad. "The image I've had in my head all day, Brian, is of this driver's ed car with two steering wheels, with one with the U.S. Army now about 300 people on one steering wheel and the Iranian Quds Force-- which is often hostile to the United States at the other wheel -- and I'm not sure that Iran and the U.S. have any intention of driving this car in the same direction," the network's chief foreign affairs correspondent told viewers at home.
That's a bit of an understatement considering the Quds Force was implicated in October 2011 in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States on American soil. From reporting on CNN.com on Oct. 11, 2011:
The Obama administration has specific information tying senior officials in Iran's Quds Force – a special unit of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – the official said. One question, according to the official, is whether the Quds officials were freelancing or got approval from senior officials in the Iranian regime.
The administration intends to “go to other countries and say this is a serious escalation of Iran’s use of political violence,” the official said. “Some may build on their sanctions; some could cut off relations with the IRGC.”
Here's the transcript of Engel's June 19 segment:
June 19, 2014
7:05 p.m. Eastern
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: For reaction to all of this in Baghdad, which, remember, remains tense with these ISIS forces now within striking distance, we go to our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel who finds himself back in Baghdad these days. Richard, good evening.
RICHARD ENGEL, reporting from Baghdad: Good evening, Brian. People here in Baghdad certainly welcome this. This city is tense. There's a curfew in place. There are checkpoints across the city. Many people worry that ISIS could invade or at least send car bombs here.
They want the U.S. bombing now, and make no mistake, this is a U.S. Military intervention. They're not American boots on the ground, but these advisers are going to be working with the Iraqi military, guiding the military, picking targets, helping the military to take back the half dozen or so cities that have been taken by ISIS.
The issue is the U.S. isn't the only country doing this. There are already Iranian advisers on the ground doing almost the exact the same thing, working with the Iraqi army, telling it where to go. The image I've had in my head all day, Brian, is of this driver's ed car with two steering wheels, with one with the U.S. Army now about 300 people on one steering wheel and the Iranian Quds Force -- which is often hostile to the United States -- at the other wheel, and I'm not sure that Iran and the U.S. have any intention of driving this car in the same direction. Brian?
WILLIAMS: As good an example as anything we can think of back here. Richard Engel on the streets of Baghdad. Richard, thanks.