NBC’s Engel: Very Possible Iran ‘Gamble’ Could Begin Mideast Arms Race – NewsBusters (blog)

Soon after President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday morning that the government of Iran signed a nuclear arms treaty with the United States and a coalition of allies, Richard Engel — NBC’s chief foreign correspondent – stated on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program that the deal was “a gamble” for the U.S. that “very possibly” could lead to a new arms buildup in the Middle East.

Later that day, Engel told Chris Matthews, the host of the weeknight Hardball program, that people were filling the streets of Tehran — the capital of Iran — because “they see this as a real moment to celebrate, a moment of renewal, of hope when they could maybe improve their lives, their freedoms, their financial freedoms, their ability to live a decent life.”

During the morning program, MSNBC correspondent Mike Barnicle asked Engel what the sentiment on the ground in Israel was regarding the new treaty.

The reporter in Tel Aviv responded:

There’s a lot of anger here and not just in Israel. In many capitals in the Arab world, there is deep distrust with this agreement.

Basically, the Arab world and Israel both do not think that Iran will abide by the deal, that it will cheat and that this agreement will give Iran more money, more power, more political clout to continue its policies in the Middle East that are causing a lot of instability right now in Syria, in Yemen and Lebanon.

However, Engel noted that in Tehran, many people were filling the streets, honking their horns, cheering, and celebrating because “they see this as  … a moment of renewal, of hope when they could maybe improve their lives, their freedoms, their financial freedoms, their ability to live a decent life.”

When asked about the possibility of a volatile Middle East arms race, the foreign correspondent replied: “It is very possible. In one sense, you have to look at this as a gamble. … And for the U.S., there’s relatively low risk” because that nation “is far away, its involvement in the Middle East is with a few advisers, with drones, and if it doesn’t work, there are clauses in place to snap the sanctions back.”

While noting that the “gamble” has an acceptable downside for the United States, “active conflicts are underway in which Iran is a major party. There is a possibility that this agreement could just be adding more fuel to the sectarian fire.”

“It will embolden groups like ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which will now see Iran and the U.S. in collusion,” he noted. “It will cause Saudi Arabia to become more nervous that it’s being surrounded by Iranian expansionism.

“An arms race is possible, and a worsening of the active regional conflicts in the region is also possible,” Engel added.

Later that day, while being interviewed by Matthews, Engel stated that the challenge “depends on how you view changing regimes. How do you convince a hard-line rogue regime to come out of the dark and become more moderate, become more responsible and reasonable in its behavior?” (Engel’s comments begin three minutes into the video above.)

He explained:

You can either — this is Israel`s point of view — continue to punish that regime, to strangle them militarily, to strangle them financially, and eventually, according to this theory, they will “cry uncle” and they will change their ways.

Traditionally, that hasn`t worked. The more pressure you put on a rogue regime, the more you isolate rogue regimes, the deeper they retreat into their shell and the more hostile they become.

“The other approach,” Engel stated, is “to try and offer some incentives, offer a different path and see if that works, to see if there is a historic opportunity to change the dynamic.”

Matthews then asked: “What do you think? Is it possible that opening up this kind of engagement with Iran, after all these years of hostility, could permit the middle over there to shift toward non-hostility to the United States?”

“It`s possible,” the foreign correspondent responded. “There are some encouraging signs,” but “the hard-liners in Iran, I think, will try and resist this.”

“The question is, is Iran ready to embrace that change,” he wondered, “or will, as Israel believes, Iran just take the money and then eventually crack down on the people who are out on the streets tonight, tell them that the deal is off, effectively, and move on?”

With that in mind, let’s hope that the results of Obama’s risky arrangement with Iran won’t have any impact until we have someone wiser in the White House.

 

NBC’s Engel: Very Possible Iran ‘Gamble’ Could Begin Mideast Arms Race – NewsBusters (blog)}

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