NBC’s Engel Touts Soleimani Mural Taunting U.S. Diplomats in Baghdad

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After claiming on Monday that the U.S. turned Qasem Soleimani “into a martyr, if not a saint,” on Tuesday’s Today show, NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel touted a “large mural” of the Iranian terrorist being put up across from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad as a way of taunting American officials in the Iraqi capital.

Introducing the report from Engel, co-host Hoda Kotb proclaimed: “Take a look at this scene in Iran. Right now, Iranians coming together en masse to mourn the country’s most powerful general.” She then warned: “This morning, there’s new tension and new threats over the American air strike that took his life.”

 

 

Noting that “the formal period of mourning is coming to an end” in Iran, Engel highlighted: “Amid the crushing sea of mourners, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard making explicit threats, saying, ‘We tell our enemies that we will retaliate, but if they take another action we will set ablaze the places that they like and are passionate about.’”

Wrapping up his report, Engel touted: “And this morning in Baghdad, a large mural of Qasem Soleimani is now hanging from an apartment building facing the U.S. embassy, so U.S. officials literally coming face to face with the man they ordered to be killed.” As if American diplomats should feel any guilt or remorse for the killing of a brutal terrorist.

Co-host Savannah Guthrie then seized on “perhaps surprising news out of Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu, a close ally of the President, and his reaction to the killing of general Soleimani.” Engel suggested that the Israeli leader objected to the strike against the ruthless Iranian commander:

So Netanyahu has long called for action to be taken against Iran, but so far Israel has been very quiet and there are numerous reports coming out of Israel this morning that Netanyahu told his security cabinet that Israel had nothing to do with this action, that it was an American action taken alone, and that Israel does not want to get dragged into it.

Since Soleimani’s death, the liberal media have been desperate to paint the action as a foreign policy failure for the Trump administration, even to the point of adopting Iranian propaganda.

Here is a full transcript of Engel’s January 7 report:

7:02 AM ET

HODA KOTB: We’re going to get right to our top story. Take a look at this scene in Iran. Right now, Iranians coming together en masse to mourn the country’s most powerful general. This morning, there’s new tension and new threats over the American air strike that took his life.

We do have in-depth coverage from Washington to the Middle East. We’re going to begin with NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, who’s on the ground in Iraq this morning. Hey, Richard, good morning.

RICHARD ENGEL: Good morning. The U.S. killed the head of Iranian black ops and now U.S. agencies are bracing for some kind of reprisal, issuing numerous warnings, including this latest one to U.S. shipping. While in Iran, the formal period of mourning is coming to an end.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Tensions Escalate in U.S.-Iran Crisis; U.S. Issues Warning to Ships Amid Massive Funeral Turnout]

Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed by a U.S. drone strike ordered by President Trump, was buried this morning in his hometown. Iranian state TV reports dozens of people were killed and dozens more injured in a stampede that broke out at the funeral. Amid the crushing sea of mourners, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard making explicit threats, saying, “We tell our enemies that we will retaliate, but if they take another action we will set ablaze the places that they like and are passionate about.”

President Trump has offered up threats of his own, saying if Iran does retaliate, the U.S. response could be “disproportionate,” with strikes inside Iran, even against cultural sites. But his own defense secretary directly contradicted the President, acknowledging the laws of war prohibit attacks on iconic cultural heritage.

The U.N. Secretary-General says he hasn’t seen the world so full of risk.

ANTONIO GUTERRES [SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS]: Geopolitical tensions are at the highest level this century, and disturbance is escalating.

ENGEL: Overnight, the Department of Homeland Security issued a general warning that Iran could respond with cyberattacks, improvised bombs, drones, attacks on civilians, or use one of its armed proxies, both on the U.S. or American interests around the globe. Nothing specific, but a clear expression of concern.

The U.S. is sending in several thousand more troops to the region as reinforcements. In Baghdad, troops are hunkering down, suspending training missions and creating some confusion. The Pentagon last night scrambled to correct a letter that strongly suggested all U.S. Forces would be leaving Iraq for “onward movement.” Defense officials said it was “poorly worded” and “a mistake,” saying only a few hundred “trainers and administrative personnel are leaving Baghdad for safer areas, mainly in Kuwait.”

And this morning in Baghdad, a large mural of Qasem Soleimani is now hanging from an apartment building facing the U.S. embassy, so U.S. officials literally coming face to face with the man they ordered to be killed.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And Richard, perhaps surprising news out of Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu, a close ally of the President, and his reaction to the killing of general Soleimani?

ENGEL: So Netanyahu has long called for action to be taken against Iran, but so far Israel has been very quiet and there are numerous reports coming out of Israel this morning that Netanyahu told his security cabinet that Israel had nothing to do with this action, that it was an American action taken alone, and that Israel does not want to get dragged into it. Savannah?

GUTHRIE: Alright, Richard Engel in the region for us, thank you.

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