New York Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel claimed President Barack Obama is “grasping at straws” by considering an alliance with Iran against ultra-violent Sunni Islamists threatening Baghdad.
Engel appeared on MSNBC’s “Ronan Farrow Daily” Monday to discuss the rapidly deteriorating situation in northern Iraq, after terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) swept through the northern parts of the country in a lighting military offensive last week.
Last week Iranian and Iraqi military sources claimed that two battalions of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard were already fighting alongside the Iraqi military. And rumors are flying in Washington that the Obama administration may provide air support for Iranian and Iraqi troops on the ground. (RELATED: Iranian Troops Already Battling Terrorists Inside Iraq)
“Do you think this idea with greater collaboration with Iran is smart, or is it a dangerous decision to make here?” Farrow asked Engel.
Engel, a Jewish-American who strongly supports Israel against archenemy Iran, was clearly uncomfortable with Obama’s possible plan.
“Well, I think it’s probably both,” he said. “I think it’s smart because, frankly, we’re caught between a rock and a hard place. We don’t really know what to do. And so we’re grasping at straws as far as I can see.”
Engel, like many in his party, blame the situation on former President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
“We’re paying the price now,” he said, “and I think what’s happening is that the president is sort of grasping at straws. Because we cannot allow ISIS to overrun the country because we’ll have a situation, if that happens, like we had in Afghanistan . . . [9/11] would happen again if ISIS just went unabated and controlled large swathes of Iraq.”
“On the other hand, we don’t want to get involved in another war,” Engel continued. “One mistake shouldn’t be compounded by making a second mistake. And so I think we’re really grasping at straws. And if we’re looking towards Iran, I think we’ve sort of reached a new low, unfortunately. And I think we have to not close any windows, and just kind of look to see what alternatives might be out there.”