CBS Used Iraqi President to Shame U.S. Response to Iranian Threats

Despite the fact, a rocket landed in the Baghdad green zone close to the U.S. Embassy over the weekend, the CBS Evening News was more interested in wagging its finger at the U.S.’s response to intelligence reports suggesting possible Iranian backed attacks were coming. To back up their position, CBS relied on Iraqi President Barham Salih.

Fill-in anchor Major Garrett led into the segment by fretting: “As this conflict plays out, Iraq finds itself in the middle.”

CBS correspondent Roxana Saberi did admit, towards the top of her report, that concerns of attacks by Iranian backed militias “intensified last night when a rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.” But she appeared more concerned with how, “Iraq's President Barham Salih fears his country will be dragged into another war.”

In her interview with President Salih, Saberi allowed him to complain about the U.S. ordering personnel out the Embassy days before the failed rocket attack:

SABERI: Why do you think then that America ordered a partial evacuation of its embassy?

SALIH: I think that was, how shall I say, we were not happy with that. We thought it was unwarranted.

“Unwarranted”? A rocket was fired at it. There was no apparent push back from Saberi.

 

 

From there, she teed up Salih to suggest U.S. concerns about attacks from Iran were a “distraction” from the fight against ISIS:

SABERI: As the power struggle between Tehran and Washington heats up, he warns that the big winner could be their mutual enemy, ISIS.

SALIH: We should start a conversation to diffuse these tensions and to talk about the real issues, combating extremism, eradicating ISIS, accomplishing the mission.

SABERI: So this could be a distraction?

SALIH: Of course. No doubt about it.

Even though CBS was the first broadcast network to report on U.S. intelligence reports which found “Iranian-backed militias in Iraq are moving rockets within range of U.S. outposts,” Saberi seemed to brush those facts aside for the sake of Iraq.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CBS Evening News
May 20, 2019
6:37:49 p.m. Eastern

MAJOR GARRETT: Tensions between the U.S. and Iran remain high after a rocket, possibly fired by an Iranian-backed militia, landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad last night. As this conflict plays out, Iraq finds itself in the middle. More now from Roxana Saberi, the only American network correspondent inside Baghdad.

[Cuts to video]

ROXANA SABERI: [To President Barham Salih] Good to see you again.

Iraq's President Barham Salih fears his country will be dragged into another war.

IRAQI PRESIDENT BARHAM SALIH: In a situation of conflict, God help us all.

SABERI: Iraq hosts more than 5,000 U.S. troops and depends on local militias, many backed by Iran, for its security. The Trump administration says U.S. intelligence shows some of those armed groups are preparing to turn their guns on American forces. Those concerns intensified last night when a rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

We're driving just across the river from the U.S. Embassy. It's in a highly secure area that’s closed off to cameras. That's why we're pointing it out to you from the car. It's surrounded by walls and checkpoints, but if you have a rocket launcher, it's an easy target.

SALIH: From everything we know, it could’ve been the act of a rogue group.

SABERI: President Salih says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised concerns about rogue groups aligned with Iran earlier this month.

Why do you think then that America ordered a partial evacuation of its embassy?

SALIH: think that was, how shall I say, we were not happy with that. We thought it was unwarranted.

SABERI: As the power struggle between Tehran and Washington heats up, he warns that the big winner could be their mutual enemy, ISIS.

SALIH: We should start a conversation to diffuse these tensions and to talk about the real issues, combating extremism, eradicating ISIS, accomplishing the mission.

SABERI: So this could be a distraction?

SALIH: Of course. No doubt about it.

[Cuts back to live]

SABERI: Today, a leader of an Iranian-backed militia here in Iraq released a statement calling on Iraqis to work together to prevent a conflict. Major, he went on to say, "If war breaks out, it will burn everyone.”

GARRETT: Roxana Saberi in Baghdad, thank you.

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